India-Pakistan: The Older Guys Are Shoving Back


November 10, 2009: Pakistani troops have taken two (Ladha and Sararogha) of the three towns where the Taliban and al Qaeda had set up shop in the tribal territories. The third town, Makeen, is now being fought over. So far, the month of fighting has caused nearly 2,000 casualties, including at least 50 soldiers and nearly 500 Taliban killed. Outside of the combat zone. Islamic terrorist attacks have killed over 300 in the last month, most of the victims beings civilians. Over 50,000 troops are either inside South Waziristan, or blocking roads and passes outside it. There are believed to be about 8,000 Taliban and al Qaeda personnel defending. About 15 percent of the enemy have been killed, wounded, deserted or captured. The army has lost 1-2 percent of its force (dead, deserted, wounded). Most of the Islamic terrorists are fleeing the army, and heading for other terrorist bases in North Waziristan, and nearby areas. Some have fled across the border into Afghanistan. The offensive is proving very expensive to the Taliban. The terrorist groups have lost several hundred tons of weapons and ammunition, plus food and medical supplies, and many vehicles and computers. The fighting has hurt the reputation of the Islamic groups, who liked to boast that they were immune from attack in the tribal territories. In the last two years, the growing number of U.S. UAV missile attacks on terrorist leaders tarnished that claim somewhat. But the Pakistani troops seizing one terrorist base after another has been a major propaganda hit for the Taliban. The terror attacks throughout the country (but mostly in the tribal territories), have demonstrated the Taliban ability to slaughter random civilians, but not to threaten government control. The terror attacks increase popular enthusiasm for the anti-terrorist offensive, which is not what the Taliban wanted. But the offensive is hurting the Taliban, not destroying it. That will take months of continued operations, and some cooperation from Afghan forces across the border.

There's one angle to all this that does not get big play outside South Asia. That is the Pakistani belief that India is behind a lot of the Islamic terrorism. To an outsider, this is absurd, as a primary goal of Islamic terrorism in this part of the world, is the destruction of Hinduism. While Jews and Christians are formally recognized by Islam as kindred (if misguided) religions, the Hindus are considered pagan idolaters who must be destroyed. Hindus are seen as particularly dangerous as they are one of the few religions that, when confronted with an invading Islamic army, refused to convert in large numbers. Thus northern India, which had been under the control of Moslem leader for centuries, clung to its Hindu faith. This upsets most Moslems, and infuriates Islamic radicals.

Thus Pakistanis tend to believe, despite the religious animosities, that Islamic terror groups would accept aid from Hindu India. Afghanistan does accept aid from India, and the U.S. has good relations with India, which simply confirms Pakistani fears that the hated Hindus are conspiring to destroy Pakistan. To a lesser extent, Indians see every terrorist or criminal activity coming out of Pakistan as part of an Islamic radical plot to destroy Hindu India. There's more truth to that, at least in terms of evidence that Pakistani officials have supported Islamic terror groups that target India.

Meanwhile, in response to the terror attacks, Pakistani police have arrested over a thousand people, after interviewing many more. Most of the terror attacks take place in the tribal territories, and concentrate on government officials and tribal leaders who oppose the Taliban. That latter group is increasing, despite the terror attacks. Many Pushtuns see the Taliban as a front for criminal gangs and local hotshots seeking a shortcut to tribal power. The Taliban tend to attract a lot of younger guys with more ambition than clout, and the religious fanatic angle enables older tribal leaders to be shoved aside. Now many of the older guys are shoving back.

India has seen a twenty percent increase in Maoist violence this year, with nearly a thousand deaths attributed to the communist rebels so far this year. India is massing over 70,000 troops and special police in the east, to attempt inflicting some major damage on the leftists.

In Bangladesh, police continue to keep Islamic radical groups on the defensive. The groups lack sufficient popular support to provide safety from police informers. Thus the Islamic terrorists are constantly on the run, and unable to plan and carry out many attacks.

November 9, 2009: In Pakistan's tribal territories, a suicide bomb in a rickshaw was set off in the largest city (Peshawar), killing three.

November 8, 2009: In eastern India, Maoist rebels attacked police and killed four of them.

November 7, 2009: In Pakistan's capital, a suicide bomber was shot in the head when he tried to approach a police checkpoint on foot. The truck he arrived in sped off.

November 6, 2009: In Pakistan's capital, gunmen wounded an army general and a soldier. In the tribal territories, two suicide bombers were wounded during a shootout at a checkpoint.

November 4, 2009: A group of Taliban ambushed a van near the Swat valley, in Pakistan's tribal territories, killing two female teachers. The Taliban have continued to carry out their violent campaign against the education of girls, even though most parents want to educate all their children. Pakistani police promptly rounded up 75 of the usual suspects, including two dozen Afghans who lacked proper identifications. These men were sent back to Afghanistan.

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