India-Pakistan: The Secret Truce Becomes Embarrassing


November 1, 2010: Two years later, Islamic terrorists are still actively trying to pull off another Mumbai type attack. Getting a dozen or so heavily armed (with guns and bombs) and suicidal terrorists into a major city worked in Mumbai, but many Western nations have since trained their metropolitan police forces to quickly deal with such tactics. One of the big problem with "Mumbai tactics" is that the terrorists have to employ a large number of people (including support personnel), which makes it more likely that counter-intelligence efforts will detect preparations.

Indian Maoists are using their most effective weapon, terrorism, against the families of local police and potential police recruits. The Maoists have always used these techniques, but now that they are under heavy attack by additional police who do not live in the area, the need to demoralize local cops becomes even more important. The police reinforcements feel compelled to aid their local counterparts, especially if they, or family members are kidnapped or personally threatened. The Maoists have also indicated they are planning more prison breaks. These are high risk (of Maoist casualties) operations, but are great for the morale of the increasing number of Maoists getting arrested, and more police must be diverted to increase security for prisons.

Attacks continue on NATO supply trucks going from the port of Karachi, through Pakistan and into Afghanistan. But the attacks are so few in number, relative to the number of trucks involved, that they are not meaningful. Many of the attacks are simply larceny, not terrorism, because much of the cargo is carted away.

The resumption of peace talks between India and Pakistan has produced some progress. Both nations have agreed to cut down on the one-upmanship between their border troops (in particular, the increasingly ostentatious changing of the guard ceremonies). This has a more serious purpose in trying to halt the frequent gunfire across the border. This is usually initiated by Pakistani troops, and the Indians respond for minutes, or hours, sometimes including mortars and artillery. Troops, and civilians, sometimes become casualties. Pakistani troops sometimes fire to provide cover for Islamic terrorists to get across the border. Both nations have also agreed to coordinate efforts to halt smuggling, which India hopes will include the Islamic terrorists coming from Pakistan. While Pakistan continues to deny that it supports Islamic terrorists operating in India, over a decade of dead bodies and other evidence says otherwise. Pakistan has also offered to increase efforts to prosecute Islamic terrorists. But the Pakistani justice system is so weak and corrupt that the government has a difficult time convicting all the terrorists it really wants to send away (as in those who attack targets inside Pakistan). Corruption among police, and Islamic radicalism in the intelligence agencies (the ISI) only add to the problem. While Pakistan sees itself surrounded (at least to the east) by external enemies (led by India), the major foe is within. Corruption and Islamic radicalism are more of a threat than any real, or imagined (India, again) external menace. But it's fashionable in Pakistan to blame India, and the West in general (especially the United States) for all its problems. These delusions are a major problem for Pakistan, and any nations that have to deal with Pakistan (particularly India, Afghanistan and the West).

Since the Pakistani Army abruptly halted its offensive against the Taliban in August, the terrorist groups (particularly the Taliban and the Haqqani network), have been able to turn their attention to the nearby tribes that agreed to join the fight on the government side. Without the Pakistani soldiers in the area, the terrorist groups were strong enough to keep the tribes in line. But with help from the army (since early 2009), the tribes were able to stand up to the terror groups, and make life a lot more difficult for them. In particular, the tribes could block the few roads in the area, making it more difficult for the terrorists to move around (and into and out of Afghanistan.) Especially in North Waziristan, the terrorists are forcing the tribes to back off, and open the roads. The army does nothing. At least in the area (Waziristan and Baluchistan) where the terrorists are now concentrated. The army excuse for halting the attack on North Waziristan was their desire to clear the Taliban out of the rest of the tribal territories. This was true, to some extent. But terrorist casualties fell by more than half after July. While there were still army and police efforts against Islamic terrorists throughout the tribal territories since then, the army basically halted efforts to wipe out the last refuge of terrorists in the northwest (North Waziristan) or go after the numerous refuges in Baluchistan. Too many senior military and intelligence officials see the need for Islamic terrorists to maintain influence over Afghanistan and a threat against India. This is not public policy, but it's no secret either.

While Pakistan sees a need to maintain some of its Islamic terrorists, it has become more effective in preventing them from making attacks overseas. Pakistan is well aware of how dangerous it is for Islamic terror attacks in the West getting traced back to Pakistan. That sort of thing threatens foreign aid (which Pakistan desperately needs) and all manner of foreign relationships. So Pakistan has been cooperating with Western counter-terrorism organizations to identify and track terrorists from, or just operating in, Pakistan. In particular, Pakistan has prevented foreigners (especially Pakistani expatriates) from freely travelling to Pakistan (where some of them obtain terrorist training.) Arrests have been made, information exchanged and a few people turned over to Western police. Pakistan has not been as cooperative in keeping terrorists away from India, or in shutting down the terrorist training camps (especially those supporting operations in India). Considering how many of these terrorist groups also want to turn Pakistan into a religious dictatorship, it's no wonder that many Pakistanis are hostile to all Islamic terrorists. But the media, and the government, has been pushing hatred of India for so long, that there is still a lot of popular support for the Islamic terrorists, even if the blowback continues to kill many Pakistani civilians.

The U.S. missile attacks and UAV operations in North Waziristan continue at the high level first seen in September (when these attacks doubled, from August, to 21). But with the army pressure off for over two months, the terrorists are better able to go after the American informant networks. Some American politicians are also seeking to destroy these networks, calling them illegal.

October 28, 2010:  More sectarian violence in Pakistan, as for Shia men were shot dead in  the southwest (Baluchistan).

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