India-Pakistan: The Tribes and Terrorists Win One
September 6, 2006: Pakistan has declared victory and acknowledged defeat in the Pushtun tribal territories along the Afghan border. The government has signed a truce deal with the tribes. Under the terms of the deal, the tribes promise to expel foreign Islamic terrorists from their territories, and not allow their own men to join Taliban operations in Afghanistan. Neither promise is likely to be kept. Even now, Islamic extremists are exercising more control in the tribal territories, forming militias that are able to defy the tribal elders. However, the government is now expected to keep its troops in bases near the urban areas (which the tribes do not control anyway), and send in millions of dollars in economic aid (which the United States is expected to provide). This charade will go on (for a year or so) until the violations of the deal become too much to ignore. At that point, the war between the government and the tribes will resume. Afghanistan is already complaining of an increase in Pakistani Pushtun Taliban crossing over to fight.
The government was not willing to pay the price, in lives and cash, to subdue the tribes. This is nothing new, the fierce and persistent resistance of the Pushtun tribes has defeated outsiders for centuries. But there was also a religious angle. The tribes are full of Islamic conservatives, and tribal religious leaders have been turning the fighting into a religious war. The government does not want to give Islamic conservatives elsewhere in Pakistan more ammunition. Moreover, a significant minority of the officers in the army are Islamic conservatives, and the fighting was causing unrest with that important group. So the government has declared victory, stopped fighting the tribes, and is hoping to come up with some kind of Plan B before the Islamic terrorism gets out of hand.
September 5, 2006: Indian in police in Kashmir found the hide out of a senior Islamic terrorist leader, and killed him. The dead man, Billo Gujjar, was a member of the Hizbul Mujahedeen, and was known to be responsible for several murderous attacks on non-Moslem civilians.
September 3, 2006: In southwest Pakistan, a natural gas pipeline was damaged by a bomb, interrupting the export of the natural gas, and supplies for about 10,000 local people in Baluchistan. Elsewhere in the province, someone tossed a grenade into a crowd, wounding six civilians.
August 31, 2006: Border Guards continue to capture Islamic terrorists crossing the largely unguarded Indian border with Bangladesh. The border runs through lots of sparsely inhabited jungle. Smugglers in Bangladesh will, for a fee, guide illegal migrants into India, via tracks that are least likely to be patrolled.