Counter-Terrorism: Pakistan And The Secret Plan

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September 23, 2011: Pakistan is now where most suicide bomb attacks are taking place. In the decade after September 11, 2001 there were 303 suicide bomber attacks in Pakistan, which killed 4,808. Iraq suffered about a thousand suicide bomb attacks since 2003, but these have sharply declined in the last three years, while attacks in Pakistan have increased. Afghanistan has suffered 740 suicide bomb attacks (killing 3,800) since 2003, but most of them have been in the past few years. Those attacks sharply declined this year. All this leaves Pakistan with most suicide attacks, which is rather ironic, considering the Pakistani government's long-time support of Islamic terrorism.

Suicide bomb attacks initially hit Pakistan in 2001, as a result of Pakistan joining the U.S. in a war against Islamic terrorism. Before that, Pakistan thought it was immune to such violence, because Pakistan has created the Taliban in the early 1990s, and helped many Islamic terror groups in the 1980s. Pakistan provided bases and all forms of aid to Islamic terror groups that carried out attacks in India. But the United States told Pakistan, shortly after September 11, 2001, that there was a choice. Either join the U.S. in an effort to destroy Islamic terrorism, or go to war with America. While many Pakistanis would have gone to war with the United States, wiser heads prevailed, as it was understood that the Americans were very angry, and could destroy the current Pakistani ruling class, and much of Pakistan, if the Pakistani government refused to turn on the Islamic terrorists they had supported for the past two decades.

Pakistani leaders believed they could take the billions of economic and military aid the U.S. offered, and do as little as possible to hurt the Islamic terrorists, and escape this situation with minimal damage to the terrorist groups they supported. While some Islamic terror groups went along with this secret plan, many did not. And those groups became more and more aggressive in their opposition to the Pakistani government.

In 2007, Pakistan cracked down on the most troublesome (to the government) Islamic radical groups, and touched off open war between Pakistan and a large assortment of Islamic radical groups (including the Pakistani Taliban and some of those groups that had long concentrated on attacking India.) There were 56 suicide bomber attacks in 2007, followed by 60 in 2008, 78 in 2009 and 51 last year. While the number of attacks declined a bit, the size of the bombs, and the number killed, increased. And it kept up this year.

Through all this, the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, has continued to support Islamic radical groups that would not attack the government, and stay in touch with some of the groups that did. While most Pakistani are anti-American (partly due to decades of government sponsored anti-American propaganda), the population has also become hostile to Islamic radicalism. That’s because most of those killed by suicide bombers have been civilians. The ISI, and many Pakistani leaders, would like to regain control of (or just a lot of influence over) Pakistani Islamic terror groups. But that is unlikely to happen. Once a war like this starts, there’s only one way to stop it. One side must prevail. While the Islamic radical groups are more bloody-minded, they are greatly outnumbered. Historically, the radical groups lose, some with a higher body-count than others. The Pakistani terrorists have the numbers, determination and hatred at the government that betrayed them, to take a lot of Pakistanis down with them.

 


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