August 28, 2012: In Pakistan (North Waziristan) thousands of people have fled their homes in the belief that the army will soon begin an operation against the Taliban bases in the area. The Taliban have been threatening to launch more terror attacks in non-tribal Pakistan if the army does come in. North Waziristan tribal elders have called on the government to not attack. The government, and the army leadership, has already said they will not attack but many in North Waziristan do not believe these assurances.
There are currently 150,000 troops in the Pakistani tribal territories and nearly 40,000 surrounding North Waziristan (an area of 4,700 square kilometers, with 365,000 people). North Waziristan has been surrounded since late 2009, but Pakistani generals have refused to go in and take down this terrorist refuge. Politicians have been under growing pressure from the West, especially the United States, to do something about the continued terror attacks by what the Pakistanis call "bad Taliban". These are mostly Pakistani Taliban who want to establish a religious dictatorship in Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban, who wants to establish a similar government in Afghanistan, are considered "good Taliban" (along with the minority of Pakistani Taliban who don't want to overthrow the government). In the last two years the Pakistani Taliban have also caused hundreds of casualties among pro-government tribesmen throughout the tribal territories, and it's no secret that the army hires tribesmen and puts them in dangerous situations to minimize army casualties. The army cannot afford to lose the support of the loyal tribes up there. All this has put pressure on the army to eliminate the refuges the killers can flee to in North Waziristan. Several times, because of the demands of Pakistani and American politicians, the Pakistani generals have said they will consider advancing into North Waziristan. But it hasn't happened yet. The most likely outcome to all this is a very special army operation in North Waziristan, one that will avoid doing too much damage to their terrorist friends and just go after a few towns known to be terrorist (who attack Pakistan) hangouts. In other words, the army will put on a show and hope that the intended audience (the United States) approves. Bad reviews will be bad news indeed. Then there's the fact that there will be a lot of advance publicity for this operation, including details (in the Pakistani media) of which Pakistani brigade will go where, giving the terrorist groups plenty of time to get out of the way. This has happened before and could happen again. The bottom line is that the Pakistani military is not likely to attack its longtime and loyal terrorist allies (especially Haqqani Network) in North Waziristan, at least not as long as the elected politicians have no control over selecting the senior military leaders. The Pakistani military is a self-selected aristocracy that extorts a large chunk of the national wealth to sustain itself. More Pakistanis are looking at the military this way, especially in light of how well serving and retired generals (and lower ranking officers) live. But the military has the firepower and few civilians are eager to take the troops on.
The Pakistani generals deny that there is any agreement with the Americans to shut down terrorist operations in North Waziristan in return for NATO action against Pakistani Taliban hiding out in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, in the last week, American air power appears to have done just that, killing several senior Pakistani Taliban leaders in their Afghan hideouts. Now the Americans are waiting for their Pakistani counterparts to do something in North Waziristan. This is one reason civilians in North Waziristan are fleeing their homes. They know how such deals work, you do a big favor for someone and there has to be payback. It's the code of honor and must be observed. But maybe not. Officially, Pakistan opposes the American UAV patrols over North Waziristan and the hundreds of missile attacks on terrorists below. Pakistani politicians openly decry these attacks as violations of Pakistani sovereignty, while privately supporting these operations that kill Islamic terrorists the Pakistani security forces will not or cannot get to. It's all a convenient hypocrisy.
But the Islamic terror threat inside Pakistan is real. The August 16th terrorist attack on a Pakistani air base was an example. Even though the attack largely failed (it damaged some aircraft and killed two security personnel) the fact that the terrorists got as far as they did (past two of the three layers of security around the base) was disturbing. If the military cannot protect its most important bases, how vulnerable are Pakistani civilians to another campaign of terror attacks. Usually the Islamic terrorists confine their attacks to the tribal territories (which the Pakistani Taliban wants to conquer first, before going after the rest of Pakistan). But in the past the Islamic terror groups have gone after targets outside the tribal territories and threaten to do so again because of threats to North Waziristan. The Pakistani media is blaming American media for all this unrest in North Waziristan, because it was U.S. news outlets that first announced possible Pakistani agreement to clean the terrorists out of North Waziristan. The Pakistani military leaders were quick to deny such a deal.
At the same time the Pakistani military is also pushing the idea that the war against the Pakistani Taliban is one that involves the entire nation, not just the security forces. For years the military had blamed terrorism within Pakistan on American and Israeli intelligence efforts. You don't hear that any more, at least not from the army generals. You still see it in some of the civilian media, but the government seems to have agreed that the terrorist threat is from within, not without.
Pakistani border troops' firing at their Indian counterparts has been going on for decades. It declined in the last few years because of peace talks between the two countries but has increased lately. In the past, the firing was usually to assist Islamic terrorists to get into Indian Kashmir. But now the main reason appears to be assisting drug smugglers. In the last decade India has greatly strengthened its border security in Kashmir, and this hurt drug smugglers financially. Apparently the smugglers have made deals with commanders of Pakistani border guards to get some firepower to help move the drugs into India.
Afghanistan complains that Pakistani troops continue to fire rockets into Afghanistan, in an attempt to hit Pakistani Taliban bases in eastern Afghanistan (Kunar province). Pakistan continues to deny any involvement.
In the last few weeks ethnic violence in the Indian northeast, between local tribes and migrants from Bangladesh and the rest of India, has caused hundreds of casualties and forced over 400,000 from their homes. Some 30,000 people fled into non-tribal India. A lot of the panic was caused by Internet based messages warning of revenge attacks by Moslem groups for violence against Moslem migrants in the northeast (especially from Bangladesh). An investigation found that these rumors originally came from Internet users in Pakistan. The Indian government proposed imposing restrictions on the Internet to make this sort of rumor mongering more difficult, but Internet experts quickly pointed out that the proposed restrictions would annoy many Indian Internet users and not stop anyone from spreading false information.
Indian state governments in the east, especially Bihar, claim their anti-Maoist offensive is working. Maoist activity is down in many parts of Bihar and new economic and social efforts to improve living conditions are underway. But the Maoist organizations are still out there, planning a comeback.
India has obtained manufacturing licenses for several modern Russian ammunition designs. The missiles and shells will be produced in India with Russian technical assistance and, at least for a while, some Russian components.
August 27, 2012:
In southwestern Pakistan (Baluchistan) three Shia civilians were shot dead, apparently by Sunni Islamic terrorists.
August 26, 2012: For the last three days a group of (less than a hundred) Pakistani Taliban from Afghanistan has been attacking checkpoints in the Bajur region of Pakistan (north of North Waziristan). The checkpoints are manned by pro-government tribesmen who helped the Pakistani Army force the Taliban out of the area. Rather than flee to North Waziristan, the local Taliban found it easier to set up new bases across the border in Afghanistan. That sparely populated region (Kunar province) has plenty of hills and forests to hide in and few roads to bring in a lot of Afghan soldiers or police. NATO and Afghan forces are more concerned with terrorists based in Pakistan who are carrying out attacks in Afghanistan.
August 24, 2012:
In eastern Afghanistan an American UAV fired missiles at some Taliban in Kunar province and apparently killed Mullah Dadullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban across the border in the Bajur region.
August 21, 2012:
In eastern Afghanistan, an American UAV fired two missiles at a house where members of the Haqqani Network were meeting. Some 25 people were believed killed, including several senior Haqqani Network leaders.
Across the border in North Waziristan another UAV fired missiles that killed five Islamic terrorists and wounded two others.
In southwestern Pakistan (Baluchistan) a roadside bomb went off, killing a civilian and wounding eight others. The intended target, some military vehicles, was unharmed.
August 19, 2012: I
n North Waziristan U.S. UAVs fired missiles that killed ten Islamic terrorists and wounded several others.
August 18, 2012: In eastern Afghanistan an American air strike in Kunar province apparently killed Taliban leader Maulawi Nur Mohammad and over a dozen of his followers.