India-Pakistan: This Could Get Ugly


November 17, 2011: India and Pakistan have agreed to eliminate most of the prohibitions against trade. For decades, the two countries sharply limited trade, which was especially harmful to the economies of border areas. The new trade policies are the result of recently resumed peace talks, which were interrupted in 2008 after Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists, attacked Mumbai and killed nearly 200 people.

When Pakistan agrees to move against the Taliban in the tribal territories, they often know exactly where to go. That's largely because of new reconnaissance and targeting pods available for their F-16 fighters over the last few years. The pods enable pilots to zoom in to see individuals, and if they are carrying weapons, or zoom out and see what is happening over a large area. The U.S. will sometimes supply satellite or UAV photos indicating where Taliban or terrorist camps are. What angers the United States is how frequently the Pakistanis refuse to go after terrorist targets. But Pakistan has been more willing to hit terrorist targets this month, after the Pakistani Taliban refused to take part in peace negotiations, and instead announced that there would be more terror attacks, and not just in the tribal territories. The Pakistani Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, was badly injured by an American missile attack last year and is out for revenge. The Americans are constantly seeking a second shot at Mehsud. This is particularly important because Mehsud has made himself popular with many of the Pushtuns on both sides of the border because he wants to eliminate the Durand Line, a colonial era border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that was never accepted by many tribes that straddle the border.

The U.S. suspects that Pakistan has changed its nuclear weapons security measures since the U.S. raid last May that killed Osama bin Laden. The new procedures emphasize trying to hide the locations of the nukes from U.S. intelligence. This is to make it more difficult for a larger American commando operation to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons. The U.S. fears that pro-terrorist Pakistani officials may be convinced or bribed to let terrorists have nuclear weapons or radioactive material (for a "dirty bomb.")

The U.S. is not the only foreign aid donor who is fed up with Pakistani support for Islamic terrorists. An increasing number of donors are pressuring Pakistan to suppress terror groups, or lose foreign aid. Pakistan has a difficult time refuting these charges, because so much evidence of this cooperation has piled up over the last decade. The presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, where he hid out for years, was particularly revealing.

In Pakistan, Karachi remains the source of most terrorist violence in the country. Not so much bombs, but ambushes and assassinations of political rivals. Increasing numbers of border patrol troops were brought in over the last few months, and the political terrorists were killed, captured or forced off the streets. Winter weather is slowing down terrorist activity up in the Afghan border areas as well. But Pakistan is still much more violent than India.

In Kashmir, Indian security forces continue to kill or arrest the remaining Islamic terrorists. The Pakistani border remains tighter than it has ever been, keeping out most terrorist reinforcements sent from Pakistan. The renewed peace talks between India and Pakistan have largely ignored Kashmir. While still a volatile issue in Pakistan, years of unsuccessful terrorism in Indian Kashmir has left Pakistan without many options other than to move on.

The Indian offensive against Maoist rebels in eastern India is getting a lot of bad publicity because the police battalions, unfamiliar with the areas they are operating in, are treating civilians badly, and being outmaneuvered by local Maoist groups. The Maoists also gain followers because the government offensive has not been accompanied by much improvement in the social justice situation. Local gangsters and corrupt politicians are seen as friends of the government, and are not being pursued for all the harm they do to local people.

November 16, 2011: In Pakistan, the army retaliated against Taliban in the tribal territories (Kurram), killing at least 20 Taliban and destroying nine of their camps or safe houses. This operation was triggered by an attack on an army checkpoint yesterday, which killed an army officer. Elsewhere in the area, a bomb was set off near a police checkpoint, killing a policeman and a civilian.

In eastern India, the body of a top Maoist leader was found. The man was apparently killed during an internal dispute with another Maoist faction.

November 15, 2011: In Pakistan, near the Afghan border, American UAVs made three missile attacks, killing 23 suspected terrorists. The targets were believed to be the Haqqani Network. Elsewhere in the area, on the ground, Pakistani troops and helicopters attacked five terrorist camps, killing 16 Taliban.

November 12, 2011: Pakistan and the U.S. have agreed on how to cooperate to prevent Islamic terrorists from using the Afghan border to escape retribution. For decades the Afghan Haqqani clan operated criminal and terrorist operations from sanctuary in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. But since the Pakistani Taliban declared war on Pakistan several years ago, the Pakistan Army has driven many of the Pakistani Taliban into Afghanistan, where the Pakistani Taliban established bases for continued attacks into Pakistan. Pakistan has agreed to control Haqqani operations in Afghanistan, if the U.S. and Afghanistan will control the use of Afghanistan as a sanctuary for attacks into Pakistan. The U.S. does not trust the Pakistanis when it comes to Haqqani, having been promised action often, followed by nothing. This time, however, the U.S. and Afghanistan are telling Pakistan that there will be no action against Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan unless Haqqani bases and personnel in Pakistan are hit. Pakistani forces do attack some Islamic terror targets in North Waziristan, usually with artillery or air strikes. Some of these groups believe they have an unofficial deal with the Pakistani Army, in that they are immune from Pakistani attacks as long as the terrorists only attack foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Americans want these deals cancelled as well.

November 9, 2011: The Pakistani government has promised to go after the Haqqani Network, which has enjoyed sanctuary in North Waziristan for decades. The problem here is that the Pakistani military, and the main intelligence agency (the ISI) have traditionally ignored government orders to crack down on Islamic terrorists. But this time the legislature, judiciary and executive branches of government have all agreed that the army must obey. This could get ugly.




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