Attrition: The Bloodiest Border In The World


July 11, 2012: On both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border there is a tribal conflict going on. The casualties, opponents, and tactics have been similar on both sides. It's all about Pushtun tribes that believe they are not getting enough respect or power. This violence has been going on for thousands of years and is still pretty gruesome. Consider the casualties in both countries over the last 5.5 years (2007 to the first half of this year).

Year -   Afghanistan/Pakistan/Total Dead

2007 - 7,221/3,598/ 10,819

2008 – 8,396/6,715/ 15,111

2009 – 8,474/11,704/ 20,178

2010 – 10,826/7,345/ 18,171

2011 – 8,942/6,303/ 15,245

2012- 5,900/6,700/ 12,600 (estimate for full year based on losses for first six months)

In Afghanistan some 55 percent of the dead are Islamic radicals or terrorists. Another quarter are civilians (including government officials). About 13 percent are soldiers and police, while about 5.5 percent are foreign troops. In Pakistan 57 percent of the dead are Islamic radicals, 31 percent are civilians, and 12 percent are security forces.

The fighting in Pakistan peaked in 2009, when the government launched an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, which was trying to take control of the tribal territories along the northeastern border with Afghanistan. By 2011, the Pakistani Taliban were beaten but not destroyed. Islamic terror groups that convinced the Pakistani military they would not carry out attacks inside Pakistan were given a sanctuary in North Waziristan and Baluchistan. While American UAVs could hunt for terrorists in North Waziristan, part of that deal was to stay out of Baluchistan, where the Afghan Taliban leadership have had their headquarters for the last eleven years.

In 2010, the U.S. sent another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan ("the surge") and, with some NATO contingents, went after drug gangs in southern Afghanistan and Islamic terrorists throughout southern Afghanistan. The gangs and their Taliban allies fought back strenuously at first but then fought only when they had to. The drug gangs are waiting for the foreign troops to leave next year, leaving local troops and police more amenable to bribes. This approach has worked well on the Pakistani side of the border and is expected to be equally successful in Afghanistan. This will reduce the death rate on the Afghan side of the border. Unlike the Afghan Pushtuns, who are 40 percent of all Afghans and a major power in the national government, in Pakistan the Pushtuns are only 15 percent of all Pakistanis and possess even less of the national wealth. The Pushtun violence in Pakistan will continue.



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