January 25, 2008:
Pakistan has sent the
army after the Taliban forces in Waziristan. This is where Baitullah Mehsud,
the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban is located, as are thousands of
tribal gunmen loyal to him. Recently Mullah Omar, the recognized head of the
Taliban, removed Baitullah Mehsud as commander of the Pakistani Taliban.
Baitullah Mehsud refused to go, and no one could make him because of his power
as a tribal leader. The Pakistani army is not impressed, and has seized one
Baitullah's subordinates Younas Mehsud, and attacked tribal strong holds.
Across the border, the Afghans are
noting fewer al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and gunmen from Pakistan.
Apparently, the pressure from the Pakistani army is forcing the Taliban and
their al Qaeda allies to defend their Pakistan bases. Meanwhile, the United
States has openly offered to send Special Forces and commando type troops to
assist Pakistan in defeating Taliban and al Qaeda forces along the border. While
this is a politically sensitive issue in Pakistan, it keeps coming up. This
indicates the Pakistani government is moving towards letting the U.S. troops
in. There have long been American operatives (mostly CIA, and other U.S.
agencies) in Pakistan, and even the tribal areas. But this is unofficial, and
discrete. Despite that presence, the U.S. seeks better information about what
is going on in the tribal areas. American intelligence analysts believe their
Pakistani counterparts are holding out on them.
The Pakistani army is going after the
pro-Taliban tribesmen, and doing so in the middle of Winter, which makes it
rough on the rebels. The tribesmen normally stay at home in the Winter, but
this year they are being forced out, or called out, to confront the army
offensive. Many of the tribesmen are surrendering, because they can't do much
against gunships and artillery. But the tribesmen can be quite effective as
bandits. In the past week, such a group of tribal gunmen stole four ammunition
trucks, taking the six drivers captive. This sort of theft goes on all the
time, but leads to retribution from the tribe or criminal gang who are
"protecting" the trucks. In this case, the army was the protector, and the army
will have to show that it can protect its own.
Pakistan test fired another of its
Hatf-IV ballistic missiles. With a range of 700 kilometers, these missiles are
the principal method for delivering nuclear weapons against Indian targets.
In Indian Kashmir, police cornered and
killed the Islamic terrorist, Bashir Ahmed, who organized suicide bombings
inside India last November, which left 13 dead and over fifty wounded. Many of
the Islamic terror attacks inside India are carried out by terrorists
originally from camps inside Pakistan, and who sneak across the Line of Control
between the Indian and Pakistani
Kashmir. Increased counter-terrorism
activity inside India has led to more arrests of Islamic terrorists, and the capture
of bomb making equipment and plans for more attacks.
January 20, 2008: Four bombs went off
in Bhutan, a mountain kingdom north of India. One person was injured. Maoist
rebels from Nepal were suspected. The Maoists, and other communist groups,
oppose the elections the monarchy just announced. The Maoists are believed from Nepalese who
were forced from Bhutan in the 1990s, and live in Nepalese refugee camps.