February 1, 2008: The U.S. and Britain
are going to try and buy the loyalty of the restive tribesmen of northwest
Pakistan. Over the next five years, about half a billion dollars a year will be
spent there on security (for the local frontier guard units) and infrastructure
(roads, bridges and such). The big problem will be preventing local Pakistani
officials from stealing most of the money before it gets to its intended recipients.
This has thwarted smaller reconstruction efforts in the past.
January 31, 2008: In southwest
Pakistan, a bomb went off, wounding five people. Tribal (Baluchi) rebels have,
for years, been running a low level war against the government.
January 30, 2008: In the Pakistani port
of Karachi, police captured a senior Taliban leader, Qasim Toori, who was
planning terror attacks against the government.
January 28, 2008: In Pakistan's North
Waziristan area, a gang of tribesman attempted to kidnap a government official.
The police caught on, and a gun battle and chase ensued. The kidnappers ran
into a primary school, and took many of the students and teachers hostage. The
criminals demanded safe passage back to their tribal territory, or the kids
would die. The cops let the gunmen surrender their weapons, and flee into the
hills. Sometimes these kidnappings are by pro-Taliban tribesmen, sometimes just
guys looking for a quick rupee, or some leverage to get a kinsman out of jail.
Nearby, a missile, apparently a
Hellfire from a U.S. Predator UAV, struck a building where a group of al Qaeda and
Taliban leaders were meeting. Apparently, increased U.S. and Pakistani efforts
to make tribesmen aware of large rewards available for information on terrorist
movements, has worked. Either that, or the bad guys got sloppy with their
electronic communications. Among the dead terrorist leaders was Abu Laith al Libi,
who has long been sought because of his role in carrying out terror attacks. Al
Libi was number five or six in the al Qaeda global hierarchy.
January 27, 2008: In northwest Pakistan, troops cleared tribal
rebels from a key road, and a tunnel through a mountain, to enable an offensive
against the pro-Taliban tribesmen. The army is playing divide and conquer.
There are truces with some tribes in North Waziristan have a ceasefire, while the
army moved on tribes in South Waziristan. The tribes are on the defensive now,
because the army has an easier time moving and fighting. The military has air
power, and the tribes do not. This makes a big difference.