Counter-Terrorism: Earthquakes Make Strange Bedfellows

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October 24, 2005: Since the devastating earthquake racked northern Pakistan and adjacent areas of India and Afghanistan on October 8th, there has been an enormous flow of military and civilian rescue and relief personnel into country. In addition to the U.S., which has diverted some military assets from Afghanistan and other areas in the Middle East to support relief efforts, Pakistan is hosting personnel from Afghanistan, Britain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, and the UAE. In addition, as in the case of the 2004 southeast Asian tsunami, the Moslem world has again made a poor showing of support to one of its most important members, a matter which may affect Pakistani attitudes region toward Islamist terrorists, who maintain some two dozen base camps in and around the affected region. In this regard, the presence of Afghan and Indian personnel is potentially of enormous diplomatic importance in reducing support for terrorists.

It is unclear whether the terrorist networks are likely to attack "infidel" or "apostate" (i.e., Moslems who are supporting international cooperation) personnel. The Islamist terrorists apparently are distracted by trying to provide relief to devastated areas in which they maintain a presence, mostly very isolated regions that are normally rarely get much support from the Pakistani government in the first place.


In nearby Kashmir, where the damage was considerably less, anti-Indian separatists are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. India has mounted an enormous relief effort, which has resulted in the movement of large forces into the region. One Kashmiri separatist group had declared a unilateral "truce" in the struggle with India, but others have not, and there have been some attacks on Indian relief personnel. This may backfire on the separatists, since it could be interpreted as opposition to humanitarian assistance.

 


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