April 7, 2009: The most powerful Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud is in hiding, but he's also declared war on the Pakistani government. This is not the first time a Pushtun chief has done this over the last thousand years or so. Usually, without some strong foreign support (like a Persian or Mongol army), the effort is just another hillbilly tribesman running his mouth for the entertainment of his buddies, and to scare the wimpy flatlanders. In this case, Mehsud does have some support, in the form of drug gang and Persian Gulf "Islamic charity" cash. Mehsud has electronic media, in Pakistan and worldwide, that pounce on, and repeat, his more interesting press releases. Mehsud has al Qaeda, or, more specifically, terrorists who worked in Iraq, where the art of the packaged (bought and paid using local contractors) terror attack was perfected. Mehsud can carry out a suicide bombing anywhere in Pakistan for $30-40,000. Everything is taken care of, including about 20 percent of the money going to the bombers family. In a nation as poor as Pakistan, that sort of deal makes economic sense for a family with a wild-eyed, but unemployable son, and lots of bills.
The Islamic terrorists in Pakistan believe they can pull off 8-10 of these attacks a month. The Pakistani police are searching for the key people in the organization that is packaging (organizing) these attacks. This is how Israel defeated the terrorists in the West Bank, and the U.S. in Iraq. Cause enough casualties among management and technical experts, and there are no more (or far fewer) attacks. But the situation is complicated in Pakistan because about half the organized Islamic radicals are dedicated to carrying out terrorist attacks in India. This is a popular activity with most Pakistanis, who have been conditioned by decades of propaganda to see neighboring India are always threatening to invade. India has no such intention, has never tried to take Pakistan (which it long had the capability of doing). Most Pakistanis ignore the fact that India is a much more successful country, and the last thing India needs is a mess like Pakistan to rule over. But a lot of those anti-Indian Islamic terrorists have friends among the police and armed forces, and many of those same terrorists are willing to work for Baitullah Mehsud. The increasing need for the Pakistani government to restrain its anti-Indian terrorists (because of growing world outrage over their support for attacks like the one in Mumbai last year), has caused those same terrorists to join with the Taliban in trying to overthrow the Pakistani government. There's no chance of that, mainly because the terrorist groups are so poorly organized and fractious. The government is backed by far more people, a lot more talent, and many more trained killers. The Islamic terrorists can create lots of profitable (for the media) headlines, but not a new Pakistani government.
The Pakistani army continues to attack the Taliban in the tribal areas, which is why the Taliban are making so much noise about terrorist attacks. The army has helicopters, warplanes and artillery, weapons against which the tribal warriors have no defense. But the tribal areas are vast, and the army only has 120,000 troops in the area. Most of the Pakistani armed forces are still on the Indian border.
Pakistani terrorist groups try to achieve increased popularity by announcing they are going after high profile targets in India. The latest example is a headline grabbing "we are targeting Indian rocket scientists" terrorist plan. These pronouncements rarely have anything behind them, but they do induce fear and grab attention. That's what terrorism is all about.
One if the most powerful weapons the Pakistani government has going for it is the U.S. armed UAVs (Predators and Reapers). A joint U.S.-Pakistani campaign against terrorist leaders, begun eight months ago, and using the UAVs in 35 attacks so far, have killed 350 people. Most of the victims have been al Qaeda leaders or technical experts. Now the Pakistanis have begun supplying location information on Taliban leaders. This was not the case in the past, because the al Qaeda were foreigners. This dulled the Pakistani public outrage at these attacks. But as long as it was foreigners killing foreigners, the outrage was mostly noise and little else. But now the Taliban are threatening the entire country. Most (about 80 percent) Pakistanis are not tribal, and dislike the Taliban (which is seen as a tribal thing), so the government is feeding the Americans location data on Taliban leaders. This has got people like Mehsud worried, because the government has spies everywhere, and it’s common knowledge that the U.S. pays big bucks, and even green cards, for valuable tips.
In eastern India, Maoist rebels are trying to disrupt the April 16 elections. The Maoists despise democracy and want to establish a communist police state, in order to achieve social justice. Several states in this part of the country suffer hundreds of casualties (dead, wounded and missing) a year because of Maoist activities, and the central government has provided more resources for a sustained effort against the Maoist gangs. This is cornering many Maoists, and making the rebel operations less effective. But the Maoists are not likely to disappear anytime soon.
In Bangladesh, police arrested senior officials of a British Islamic charity, Green Crescent. A local property owned by the organization was found to be a base for Islamic terrorist operations, including a bomb making workshop. The government has cracked down on local Islamic radicals, executing seven terrorist leaders two years ago, and breaking up several Islamic radical organizations. But outside assistance is helping Islamic radicals to regroup.
April 5, 2009: In Indian Kashmir, troops continue to comb a mountain forest near the Pakistani border for Islamic terrorists who crossed over last month. Initially, 17 terrorists were killed, some of them belonging to a reception party that was to lead the fifty or so Pakistani terrorists to terrorist bases in remote areas of Kashmir. Indian troops have cordoned off a large area, and are still encountering the trapped terrorists. Over twenty terrorists have died, along with several police and soldiers.
April 4, 2009: In southwest Pakistan, over a hundred Afghans were found in a shipping container, being used to smuggle the Afghans into Iran. But something went wrong, the trucker abandoned the container, and over half those inside died before someone noticed. Smuggling, of people and goods, has long been a big business in this part of Pakistan. It's also a deadly business, with the Iranian border guards having a license to kill, on sight, drug smugglers.
April 2, 2009: In Pakistan, a two minute cell phone video of a teenage girl being whipped in the Taliban controlled Swat valley, has the country in an uproar. The government bought peace in the Swat valley recently by allowing the local Taliban backers to impose Sharia law. This had long been a demand in the Swat valley, mainly because the civil judicial system was so slow and corrupt. The traditional tribal courts used Islamic (Sharia) law to settle common land and family disputes. But the Taliban believe in taking it farther, and the flogging video (the girls was accused with adultery with her father-in-law) shows the Taliban doing just that. This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, it happens every time the government makes these peace deals with the Taliban. Going along with this charade is seen as preferable to continuing to fight the tribesmen.
Taliban attacked a truck terminal on the outskirts of the largest city in the Pakistani tribal territories, Peshawar. Five shipping containers were damaged. The trucking companies are angry at the government for not stopping this violence, as now the U.S. and NATO are shifting their supply lines to several routes coming through Central Asia (from the Baltic and the Black Sea, as well as from suppliers inside Eurasia). Already, 75 percent of the fuel the foreign troops in Afghanistan use, comes via Central Asia.