India-Pakistan: It Pays To Be Bad


June 26, 2011: The Pakistani Army is uncomfortable about recent scrutiny of its operations in the tribal territories. Since bin Laden's death in early May, journalists have ignored decades of threats and intimidation and reported embarrassing aspects of military life. This includes years of support for Sunni religious radicals (Taliban, al Qaeda and many others). These radicals have long terrorized non-Sunni Moslems, and non-Moslems in general. The government always deplores this violence, but in the tribal territories, the army has openly taken sides against the non-Sunni tribes (which are often most willing to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban).

The U.S. has revealed that cell phones captured in the bin Laden raid showed calls to Islamic terror groups (like Harakat-ul-Mujahideen) with known connections to the Pakistani Army. American intelligence has long had evidence of such connections, but has kept the details secret because it would reveal sources and methods of how terrorist (and Pakistani Army) communications were monitored.   Bin Laden's documents also revealed that al Qaeda has suffered a sharp drop in popularity, and donations, in the last few years. To cope with the money shortage, bin Laden has quietly encouraged the use of kidnapping to raise money. He cautioned his followers to be careful who they kidnapped, lest their few remaining allies be angered. But the al Qaeda kidnapping was unpopular anyway.

Recently arrested (for pro-Islamic radical activities) general Khan's attitudes are shared by many Pakistanis. A recent poll showed that  only 37 percent of all Pakistanis supported using the army to fight Islamic radicals. Two years ago, it was 53 percent, but that was mainly because the Taliban were staging a lot of terror attacks outside the tribal territories back then. Today, only 12 percent of Pakistanis have a positive view of the United States. These attitudes are common within the Islamic world, and reflect ideas promoted by the dictators and aristocrats that run most of these nations. The West is portrayed in the media as the enemy, which focuses the people's attention on that. Dictators have known for thousands of years, that this sort of thing distracts people from paying too much attention to the real cause of all their problems.

The reality of the situation in Pakistan, however, is spreading to more and more Pakistanis. For example, despite the dismal record of the Pakistani Army in combat, Pakistani generals are, on average, much wealthier than their Indian counterparts (who have been much more successful in battle). Even without illegal income from corruption, Pakistani generals are paid more, legally, than their Indian counterparts. While there is corruption in the Indian military, those activities are under constant attack. The Pakistani military have stolen government funds on a much larger scale, but have made it much more dangerous for anyone inside Pakistan to complain about it. The military denies any complicity in the deaths of journalists, or threats made against others, but now the details of this terror campaign against the media are coming out. In effect, the Pakistani military has been running a scam for decades, and now it is beginning to unravel. This could degenerate into a chaotic civil war. The main factions would be the military (which is, after all, an outfit with lots of wealth it wants to hang on to), democratic reformers, Islamic reformers, and various tribal and local strongmen. The army has long justified its corruption, wealth and periodic government takeovers, because of the need to maintain the unity and power of the Pakistani state. But with the revelations that the military fueled corruption has been largely responsible for the poverty and weakness of Pakistan, the army gets much less respect, and obedience, than it did in the past. The decades of deception could end very badly.

Pakistani troops are still fighting Islamic militants in the tribal territories, just not the ones who are most active across the border in Afghanistan. On the Pakistani side, troops are fighting the Pakistani Taliban, and any other Islamic militants still dedicated to carrying out terror attacks inside Pakistan, especially assassination efforts against army leaders.

June 25, 2011: Indian and Pakistani diplomats concluded two days of discussions in Pakistan. Everyone agreed that controlling nuclear weapons and suppressing terrorism were vital issues for both countries. Vague promises were made, and, very diplomatically, no mention was made of the pro-terrorist activities of the Pakistani intelligence services and military.

In Iran, Pakistani, Iranian and Afghan diplomats met and agreed to cooperate in the battle against Sunni Islamic terrorists (al Qaeda and the Taliban, plus the many Pakistani based terror groups). Another major target is the opium and heroin producing operations in southwest Afghanistan. These gangs cause enormous problems in all three countries, by making it possible for over seven million people to become drug addicts. Iran hosted the meeting in part to promote itself as a better ally for Afghanistan and Pakistan than the United States. In the past, Iranian empires had controlled most of western Afghanistan. While Iran has fans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is still fear that Iran, despite being a religious dictatorship now, will revert back to its old imperial ways.

In Pakistan's tribal territories, a married couple attacked a police station. Sixteen people (including the suicide bomber couple and four other attackers) were killed. This was the first Taliban use of a female suicide bomber.  

In Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, ethic/political/religious violence flared up again in the past few days, leaving at least 20 dead. Police and army reinforcements were brought in last month to calm the city, after such violence killed and wounded hundreds.

June 24, 2011: In eastern India, police arrested a local Maoist leader. A tip from locals made the arrest possible. Especially in urban areas, the Maoists are seen as just another criminal gang.

June 22, 2011:  After going through the motions of expelling many American CIA operatives, Pakistan has issued as many, if not more, visas for American personnel to replace those expelled.

June 21, 2011: The Pakistani Army revealed that, on May 6th, it had arrested an outspoken Brigadier General (Ali Khan), and accused him of working with Islamic radical groups. What Ali Khan was really arrested for was his anti-Americanism and enthusiasm for installing a religious dictatorship to solve problems with corruption that, he believed, prevented Pakistan from reaching its potential. He saw aid from the United States as a drug, that gave Pakistan a false sense of power. According to Kahn, only Islam can deliver real power. Khan had been increasingly outspoken about this in the last year. He had grown a beard, and spoke and wrote to his fellow generals on the subject with increasing frequency. The May 2nd raid that killed bin Laden, and embarrassed the Pakistani military, sent Ali Khan into high gear. It is believed that the army revealed Kahn's arrest to deflect media attention from the arrests of those Pakistanis who had helped the CIA in pinpointing bin Laden's location. Other recent arrests of military personnel have received little coverage outside Pakistan. These involve the roundup of those current and former members of the armed forces who aided Islamic radicals in their attack on a naval base on May 30th. This was as embarrassing as the May 2nd raid. As in many past cases (usually involving attacks against generals and politicians), the Islamic terrorists had help from military personnel with Islamic radical tendencies. Some of these men had been expelled from the military because of it, but others had kept their heads down. Men like this are increasingly being sought out, and discharged.

For a decade, Ali Khan's outspoken hostility towards America and the West had kept him from being promoted. But Khan was an otherwise excellent officer, and had many friends among the generals. However, after May 2nd, Khan's anti-American attitudes became dangerous to many generals. Khan was, in effect, calling for mutiny. So now Khan, and several of his more obvious supporters, were under arrest.

June 20, 2011: In the tribal territories, U.S. UAVs made two missile attacks, killing 12 people. Meanwhile, Islamic terrorists near Peshawar (the largest city in the tribal territories) kidnapped a 9 year old girl and forced her to wear a bomb vest (that could be detonated by remote control). The girls refused to cooperate and escaped to the police before the vest could be detonated.

Elsewhere in the tribal territories, some 80 Taliban attacked the fortified compounds of two anti-Taliban tribal leaders. Four people died and six were wounded before the attackers were forced to withdraw.

June 18, 2011: Once more, pro-terrorist members of the Pakistani army and intelligence services tipped off the Taliban, after the U.S. supplied locations of two Taliban bomb-making factories, which the Pakistanis said they would raid. But U.S. UAVs recorded the Taliban emptying the bomb workshops and driving away, between the time the Pakistanis were given the location info, and the raid was to have taken place. This is the second time the Pakistanis have passed the trustworthiness test lately. The Pakistanis insist that they have no leaks, and that the Americans must be setting them up.

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