India-Pakistan: June 17, 2002

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Pakistan's northern tribal (Pushtun) region has long been noted for two things. First, the tribesmen are heavily armed and unwilling to submit to control by the central government. In the last half century, since Pakistan became an independent state, the government has slowly gained a degree of control over the cities and towns in the tribal areas. But out in the countryside, most of the tribal peoples have never seen a Pakistani soldier or government official. And the tribes want to keep it that way. The other major feature of the tribal areas is the popularity of Islamic fundamentalism. This is where the Taliban was born, away from any government control and in an atmosphere of Islamic militancy. One thing the government has managed to avoid is the establishment of terrorist training camps in the north. With one exception. There are such camps in Pakistani Kashmir. In 1947, it was Pushtun tribesmen who invaded Kashmir and seized control of that portion of Kashmir that remains under Pakistani control. But the tribesmen had help from the Pakistani army and army intelligence, which still has, so to speak, a veto power over Islamic radicals in Pakistani Kashmir. There are terrorist training camps in Pakistani Kashmir, but not as many as were in Afghanistan. In fact, Kashmiri militants often sent some of their recruits for training in Afghan camps. As a result of the working relationships established with al Qaeda during those visits, there probably are a lot of al Qaeda and Taliban personnel in Pakistani Kashmir. American Special Forces and CIA personnel are not allowed to roam freely in Pakistani Kashmir as they are in the rest of northern Pakistan. And the al Qaeda and Taliban have noted that these armed Americans, and the large rewards they offer, are making northern Pakistan a dangerous place for Taliban, and especially al Qaeda, members. So these terrorists have probably moved to Pakistani Kashmir to avoid some local chief deciding that the American rewards are too generous to pass up. 

For the past two days, there has been a lot less artillery fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

 

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