India-Pakistan: Rebel Tribes Offer Bombs, Bullets and Bluster


September 10, 2007: Former Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif, who tried to remove current president Musharraf as head of the armed forces in 1999, and was himself removed by the army in turn, tried to return Pakistan and overthrow Musharraf. He was arrested at the airport. Many of Sharifs followers had earlier been rounded up. Sharif had earlier agreed to stay out of the country for ten years (until 2010). This was partly to avoid going to prison for corruption. While Musharraf is disliked for being a dictator, the political parties don't offer much of an alternative. The Islamic parties fear they are losing support, because of the continuing Taliban and al Qaeda violence. Musharraf has ordered elections before the end of the year, and declared that his presidential term ends in two months.

September 9, 2007: Troops and tribal gunmen continue to face off with each other in Pakistanis tribal territories. There are a dozen or so casualties a day as the army contends with multiple factions among the tribesmen. There are warlords, Taliban leaders and terrorist organizations in the tribal areas, in addition to the traditional tribal elders. It's a sort of democracy, where you vote with bullets and bluster. The army has tribal allies, but these allies don't want a major war in their backyard. The tribes have a tradition of life-and-let-live, which includes tolerating the Taliban and Islamic terrorists.

September 6, 2007: In southern India, Maoists used a roadside bomb to attack to attack two politicians. Three people were killed, but the main targets were uninjured. In the last three years, the Maoists have killed 129 politicians, and over 400 other government officials.

September 5, 2007: India's northeast has seen were 219 civilian casualties so far this year, versus 164 in 2006 and 173 in 2005. for the same time period. This year, there was more terrorist activity in the northeast (where a dozen tribal groups carry out the attacks), than in the northwest (Kashmir and its Islamic terrorists from Pakistan).

September 4, 2007: Two suicide bombers attacked a Pakistani army base in Rawalpindi, near the capital. Nearly 30 were killed, and many more wounded. A third bomb was found and defused. This was a high-security area. It is believed that the Islamic radicals in the tribal areas could launch far more suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan. In the last two years, the Taliban in Pakistan have created a large suicide bombing organization, but nearly all the attacks are across the border in Afghanistan. In 2005, before the bombers got organized, there were only 17 suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan. But in 2006, there were about ten attacks a month. Some 80 percent of the bombers, and most of the support staff, were from Pakistan. So far this year, there have been 15-20 attacks a month. While most of the bombers are young men or teenagers recruited from Afghan refugee camps, some of these bombers have been used against targets in Pakistan. The Taliban promises that if they regain control of Afghanistan, things will be better for the millions of Afghan refugees still in Pakistan. The Taliban also supports continued autonomy for the Pushtun tribes on both sides of the border. The twenty million or so Pushtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan don't want to form their own nation, they just want to be left alone. That means being allowed to deal in heroin, smuggling in general and a little banditry on the side. National governments draw the line at this, so "law and order" continues to be a contentious issue in the tribal areas.


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