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India-Pakistan: Taliban Leader Captured
   Next Article → ATTRITION: The Secret War in South Asia

February 15, 2008: In Pakistan, troops captured Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the recently dismissed head of Taliban combat operations in southern Afghanistan. It's suspected that the Taliban provided the information that enabled Dadullah to be found (along with seven of his men), as Dadullah earlier refused to leave his post as Taliban leader, when Taliban leader Mullah Omar publicly fired him. This is another example of how the Taliban leadership is falling apart, with the older generation of leaders (from the 1980s and 90s) being shoved aside by a younger generation more into it for money and power, and more enthusiastic about working with the drug gangs. All this takes place within a tribal culture where warlords are not only tolerated, but encouraged. All manner of criminal activities are recognized as permissible as long as the victims are "outsiders" (usually just anyone not of your tribe, but in the case of the Taliban, anyone not connected with the Taliban). Thus when Mullah Mansoor Dadullah was captured, his followers began looking for prominent government officials in the border region, to kidnap and exchange for their leader.

In general, the tribesmen are not happy with increased police activity in areas where they live. Since Pakistan was created 60 years ago, the police and army had generally stayed out of the rural tribal areas. But the support, by some tribal factions, for Islamic terrorists has changed that. The gunmen opposing the security forces are a small minority of the tribal population, most of whom are apparently fed up with the Islamic conservatives, and all their promises (and lack of performance.)

The tribal gunmen have learned not to form into large groups (of several hundred) if the government has helicopter gunships or artillery in the vicinity. If used to be that a few hundred gunmen were a force to be reckoned with, but now such a group is just an attractive target. In response, the Islamic rebels have been using more suicide bombers, up to one attack a week. A recent one killed 25 people, and these are often directed at civilian targets. The tribesmen have tried to use roadside bombs, but have not found enough skilled bomb technicians and delivery teams to make this work yet.

Meanwhile, in northwest India, Kashmiri Islamic terrorist leaders are also suffering heavy losses. No drug money in Kashmir, where most of the terrorists come from camps across the border in Pakistan. The largely Moslem population of Indian Kashmir has turned on the Islamic radicals, making it much harder for the terrorists to operate. Elsewhere in India, communist Maoist rebels have become more active in the eastern part of the country, with seven rebels killed in recent clashes.

India is attempting to reform its military procurement system, long plagued by corruption and inefficiency. At the same time, India is trying to organize a coalition of Indian Ocean nations to jointly deal with pirates and terrorists and other criminals operating at sea.

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