January 17, 2011: Only two percent of Pakistanis pay income taxes, and this does not include the major land owning families that dominate politics, nor the generals, who take over the government every decade or so. The military is currently getting $5 billion a year for defense, which is 3.5 percent of GDP. Most of the rest of the national budget goes to patronage and special interests. Decades of not investing in infrastructure and education leaves Pakistan farther and farther behind India militarily and economically. Although Pakistan created the Taliban in the 1990s, has been supporting Islamic terrorism since the 1980s and has been under attack by Islamic terrorists for the last decade, the government continues to tolerate or support many Islamic radical organizations.
Many Pakistanis see American aid for fighting Islamic terrorists, and insistence that it be used for that, as unwarranted interference in Pakistani affairs. It's a messy situation, with no easy solution. This is especially the case because Pakistani politicians and government officials are so corrupt. Pakistanis know about the corruption, but don't like to discuss it with foreigners. Its' a shameful thing that Pakistanis should fix, but have been unable to. American efforts to help with fighting the corruption are, again, seen as unwarranted interference in internal affairs. As a result, Islamic terrorists have a sanctuary, and American officials call Pakistan the center of worldwide Islamic terrorism. Places like Somalia and Yemen are mere sideshows in comparison.
Recent announcements by al Qaeda that they have dozens of Caucasian terrorists in Pakistani camps, trained and ready to head for Europe and North America to launch attacks, puts more pressure on Pakistan to invade Taliban controlled North Waziristan, and have troops and police in Baluchistan round up known Taliban. But the Pakistanis refuse, not wanting the added expense and bloodshed. Plus, many Pakistanis agree with the idea of establishing Islamic governments in Pakistan, and worldwide.
Police make an effort to monitor who goes into and out of North Waziristan, but these controls are loose. Threats to Pakistan, from American and European aid donors, to round up known terrorists, are simply shrugged off with vague promises of, "eventually, some day." This makes Pakistan an ally of the Islamic terrorists, as well as an economic and political basket case. There are no easy solutions to this one. But the Pakistanis insist that they will eventually move. There are currently 147,000 troops in the tribal territories, and nearly 40,000 surrounding North Waziristan (4,700 square kilometers, and 365,000 people).
Pakistani counter-terror officials take comfort that in 2010, terrorism (including non-Islamic radical stuff like political and ethnic violence) was down 11 percent over 2009, and suicide bombings were down 22 percent (from 87 to 68). But violence in Karachi, the nation's largest city and main port, nearly tripled. Karachi is increasingly a base for Islamic radicals, and police have a hard time keeping track of the terrorists, much less taking them down.
In Kashmir, Indian border control efforts continue to block most attempts, to sneak across the border, by Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan. Last year there were 468 attempts (often accompanied by machine-gun and mortar fire by Pakistani Army troops), and 80 percent of them failed. Usually, this means the terrorists just pull back into Pakistan, but some keep coming, and 40 of these terrorists (most of them Pakistani, not Kashmiri) were killed. Only about a hundred or so terrorists are believed to have made it into Kashmir, and most of these are eventually hunted down and captured or killed. The Indian government wants to cut security forces in Kashmir by 25 percent, but the military is resisting.
January 16, 2011: A curfew was imposed in parts of Karachi, as police sought to halt political violence that has left at least 24 dead in the last week.
January 15, 2011: In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), tribal rebels have blown up six sections of natural gas pipelines in the last week. This is part of a battle to get more of the gas revenue for the tribes whose territory the gas wells and pipelines are located in.
January 12, 2011: In northwest Pakistan, a suicide car bombing of a police station left 18 dead. The Taliban later took credit for the attack, saying it was revenge for continued American UAV missile attacks on terrorist leaders and anyone around them. The Pakistani allows the American CIA to operate its UAVs from Pakistani air bases, seeing this as a good way to placate the Americans while also keeping terrorist leaders under control.