India-Pakistan: Taliban Squabble Over Peace Talks




November 1, 2008:  With the decline of Islamic terrorists from Pakistan (because of the tighter border security), a larger proportion of the terrorists killed in Indian Kashmir are Islamic militants from India. Frequently, the families of these Indian terrorists refuse to accept the bodies of their dead sons for burial. Most Indian Moslems are loyal citizens, and well aware that Moslems in neighboring states are worse off, politically and economically, than the Moslems of India. But Islamic radicalism appeals to the young and poor, and many seek to fight for the establishment of an Islamic religious dictatorship in India.

In Pakistan, the army and police have arrested thousands of suspected Taliban and al Qaeda during several months of fighting along the Afghan border. In Bajaur, nearly a thousand arrests have been made, and about a third of those were foreigners (mainly from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.) These captives have been an excellent source of information on the inner workings of the Taliban, which turn out to be not as well organized as was generally thought. There are several major Taliban factions, and they don't all get along. The Afghan Taliban have become much less dependent on the Pakistani Taliban because of the growing financial support from the Afghan drug gangs. But the Taliban are unsure about working with the drug gangs, who come across as a bunch of greedy hedonists. Not very Islamic, but the drug gangs have lots of guns and the Taliban cannot afford to offend them, too much.

The U.S. has told Pakistan that it will not make any more raids on Pakistan that involve troops on the ground. But there has also been an increase in Predator and Reaper UAVs attacking terrorist targets inside Pakistan with missiles or smart bombs. During the first seven months of the year, there were only five such attacks, while in the last three months, there have been about twenty.

Indian police, pursuing those responsible for recent Islamic terrorist attacks, have uncovered a network of militant Hindu groups responsible for similar terror attacks on Indian Moslems. This sort of thing just makes it easier for the Islamic radicals to recruit young Indian Moslems. The police are rounding up the leaders of both Moslem and Hindu radical groups.

October 31, 2008: In India's northeast, 18 bombs went off nearly simultaneously in four towns of Assam state, leaving 70 dead and nearly 400 wounded. Terrorists operating from nearby Bangladesh were suspected, but it turned out that these terrorists had moved into Assam and were recruiting among the illegal migrants from Bangladesh, who have long been the target of attacks from local tribal separatist groups.  The migration, of Hindus from other parts of India, as well as Moslems from neighboring Bangladesh, has enraged the dozens of tribes living in the rural region, and sustained a half century of terrorism.

India has a lot of terrorist activity that is not much heard about outside India. There are nearly 200 terrorist groups in the country, most (about 60 percent) of them in the northeast. About 30 terrorist groups, many supported by Pakistan, are in Kashmir.

October 27, 2008: In Pakistan, a two day conference of tribal leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to peace talks with the Taliban, but only if the Taliban agreed to abide by the laws each country. The Pakistani Taliban have been asking for peace talks, and may be able to persuade the Afghan Taliban to join in. The Pakistani Taliban need help, as the army has been attacking for the last three months. The Taliban have lost several thousand fighters (killed and arrested), dozens of senior leaders and much equipment. Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban have sent reinforcements, but these have taken a beating as well. The Pakistani Taliban are running out of places to retreat to, and some have moved across the border into Afghanistan. There, a shortage of Afghan and foreign troops enables the fleeing Taliban to find some relief. The Pakistani Taliban have also lost control of much territory, and the income (by "taxing" local businesses) it provided. As all this is happening at the beginning of Winter, the Taliban are going to be preoccupied with survival until next Spring.

October 25, 2008: In Pakistan's Bajaur valley, the army captured the headquarters of the local Taliban, in the town of Loi Sam. So far, over 1,500 Taliban have been killed in Bajaur, along with 73 soldiers. Some of the local tribes, fed up with abuse from the pro-Taliban warlords and tribal militias, have organized their own militias to fight for the government forces. This has not always gone well, as the Taliban have been organized for war for years, and the new tribal militias are not. There are also problems with coordinating operations with the army. Even with that, the tribes are now fighting each other, and it gets very personal. Unlike the army, the tribesmen know where everyone lives, and a favorite tactic is to attack the home of Taliban leaders, drive everyone out into the cold and burn the compound down. This is bad for Taliban morale, and a distraction.

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