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India-Pakistan: Frontier Fort Falls
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January 18, 2008: In Pakistan, people are angrier over a flour shortage than they are over Islamic terrorism and politics. The government controls the price of flour, and the price is too low (compared to prices in Afghanistan and India). As a result, many middlemen are selling their flour to smugglers who get the flour across the border and sell it for a higher price. The government has increased the price of flour from about nine cents a pound to 18 cents in the last two months, but that has not entirely stopped the diversion of subsidized flour.

 

In eastern India, police continue their aggressive patrols in areas controlled, or at least influenced, by the presence of  armed Maoist rebels.

 

January 17, 2008: In Pakistan, Mehsud tribesmen abandoned a fort, near the town of Sararogha, in South Waziristan, that they had captured a few days earlier. They feared approaching army reinforcements would trap them. Mehsud tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud is believed to behind the assassination of presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto. Baitullah Mehsud also provides sanctuary for Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. Baitullah Mehsud only leads one portion of the Mehsud tribe. The government has avoided attacking Baitullah Mehsud's men, because that could cause many, currently neutral, Mehsud tribesmen to rebel against the government. This could cause several thousand armed tribesmen to take on the army. The tribesmen would lose, but that would merely make the families, of the dead tribal warriors, long-term (generations) foes of the government. That's not a good long term strategy in this part of the world, where such blood feuds are common.

 

Meanwhile, Sunni Islamic terrorists bombed a Shia mosque in Pakistan, killing at least ten people. This war between Sunni and Shia extremists has been going on for decades. The Sunni terrorists ally themselves with al Qaeda and the Kashmir terrorists, because all of them are Sunni and believe Shia Moslems are heretics who are not true Moslems and must be killed.

 

For the second time in five weeks, someone attacked an aircraft factory in southern Pakistan. This time four rockets were fired into the complex. No one was injured. Last month was a suicide bomber, who killed seven people.

 

Three explosions were reported in Indian Kashmir, but there were no injuries. Apparently these were terrorists tossing hand grenades, and missing. Further south, in Indian Punjab, police arrested six Islamic terrorists, and seized large quantities of bomb making equipment.

 

January 16, 2008: A second Pakistani army border fort in South Waziristan was abandoned, when Mehsud tribesmen threatened to kill the garrison of about 40 paramilitary Frontier Constabulary. The army will now have to send in regular army troops to confront the rebellious Mehsud.

 

January 15, 2008:  Several hundred pro-Taliban tribesmen attacked a Pakistani army border fort, near the town of Sararogha, in South Waziristan. Several dozen tribesmen were killed or wounded, but they captured the fort. Fifteen of the 42 troops in the fort escaped, while seven were killed and twenty captured. The fort's garrison consisted of local tribesmen working for the Frontier Constabulary. The fort was one of four in the territory of the Pushtun Mehsud tribe, led by a pro-Taliban chief. The army has 100,000 troops on the Afghan border, but only a few thousand in the Mehsud territory.

 

January 14, 2008: In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, Islamic terrorists set off a bomb outside a factory, killing at least ten, and wounding over 50.

 

January 13, 2008: In the Pakistani border area (North Waziristan), the government has negotiated another deal with tribal elders, to allow tribal militia to replace government troops at the many check points in the area. In the past, the tribal militias have been largely unable to deal with the Islamic terrorist groups. This is changing, but not always quickly enough to make these peace deals work.

 

January 12, 2008: Pakistan's strategy of going after foreign Islamic terrorists (al Qaeda), while leaving most Pakistani ones alone, is not working. This strategy was developed because many of the domestic Islamic terrorists are popular, mainly as a result of two decades of Islamic terrorism directed at the Indian portion of Kashmir. This border province has been claimed by both countries for over 60 years. India has largely defeated the Islamic terrorist campaign, but it's politically unpopular to admit that in Pakistan. Thus the Pakistani government continues to leave alone Islamic terrorist organizations that are closely identified with operations in Kashmir. But it's an open secret that these groups also participate in terrorism against other targets inside Pakistan. Nice little set-up, and the government is under a lot of pressure to terrorists hiding behind the Kashmir issue.

 

 

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