The Pakistani Army has decided to lay siege to South Waziristan, the heartland of the Pakistani Taliban, rather than sending columns of troops in. At least for the next few months. By blocking the few roads, and continuing to use U.S. Predator missile attacks on terrorist leaders, and while recruiting tribal chiefs to openly side with the government, the Pakistani generals hope to collapse the Taliban without taking lots of casualties. This does not rule out a ground offensive. But over the next few months, the army will scout the area and develop contacts with tribes, and be better prepared to overrun the area quickly. The army also provides aid to anti-Taliban tribes, who continue to shoot at the Taliban, and suffer attacks from Taliban assassins.
The peace talks between India and Pakistan are deadlocked on the issue of terrorism. India is becoming more insistent that Pakistan shut down the terrorist camps on the Indian Kashmir border. These camps continue to send dozens of terrorists a month across the border, to kill Indians (both Moslem and non-Moslem). Pakistan is eager to go after such terrorist camps in its tribal territories, to halt attacks on Pakistani targets, so why not help stop attacks on India? Pakistan would rather avoid this issue, as decades of government propaganda have praised the terrorists sent into India, and it's difficult to reverse the effects of all that official hostility.
In Pakistan, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud's death has set off another frantic search for the informant. This has led to the victimís father-in-law, Ikramuddin Mehsud, his son, a brothers and a nephew being arrested by the Taliban, and questioned about who might have let the Americans know where the victim was.
In the second quarter of this year, nearly 50,000 Afghan refugees moved back to Afghanistan. Most of Afghanistan is at peace, while Pakistan is trying to get rid of several hundred thousand Afghan (some of them, or their parents, dating from the 1980s) refuges out of the country. The remaining refugee camps are in the tribal territories, which are awash in Taliban violence.
In India, the government has been having little success in halting Maoist extortion of money from businesses. The Maoists can always mass a large force of gunmen to attack businesses that fail to pay, especially those located in rural areas.
In Bangladesh, the government has developed a mass media and mass action program to battle terrorist propaganda. At the same time, the police and intelligence agencies have devoted more resources to monitoring terrorist activities. Although a Moslem nation, and a popular hideout for Islamic terrorists, Bangladesh has not proved hospitable to active terrorists. Those who do carry out violent acts, tend to get turned in quickly. Now the government wants to catch more terrorists, before they can act, and is mobilizing volunteer defense groups, the military, police and political parties to try and do that.
August 23, 2009: In Peshawar, the largest city in the tribal territories, two Islamic radical groups fought each other, leaving three dead and fifteen wounded. In Karachi, Pakistan, police arrested seven al Qaeda terrorists and seized the house they had rented for a base. Bombs and weapons were seized.
August 22, 2009: In Pakistan's Swat valley, police spotted what appeared to be a suicide bomber, and tried to capture and defuse him. But the man fled to a house, then detonated his explosives.
In eastern India, a police patrol was ambushed by sixty Maoist rebels, and four of the six policemen were killed. The quick arrival of more police forced the Maoists to retreat.
August 21, 2009: The 42 members of the Pakistani Taliban council have selected Hakimullah Mehsud as their new leader. He is the 28 year old military leader of the Taliban faction Tehrik-e-Taliban. This group has been responsible for several terrorist attacks outside the tribal areas. This included a bold daylight attack (with assault rifles) on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this year. He was behind the attempts to shut down NATO supply movements by road into Afghanistan. Hakimullah Mehsud has a reputation for being the most violent and daring Taliban commander, and now he is in charge of all Pakistani Taliban. Hakimullah Mehsud will probably try and fight his way out of his situation (surrounded by the Pakistani Army and stalked by U.S. intelligence and missile armed UAVs). He has a $120,000 price on his head now, which will probably increase sharply. His predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, had a $5 million reward for his death or capture, and the Taliban are still trying to identify who collected it..
August 20, 2009: In Pakistan's Swat valley, a Taliban leader, Akbar Zada, and his sixty followers, surrendered to the army. Zada and his men were responsible for much of the violence in the area, and will face prosecution based on accusations by local victims. Police arrested several other Taliban in the area, and killed two as well.
In North Waziristan, a U.S. Predator UAV fired two missiles at a religious school run by veteran Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, killing twelve people. This was the third such attack this month.