India-Pakistan: Taking A Chance On War

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July 23, 2007: Since the assault on the Red Mosque in Pakistan's capital 13 days ago, nearly 300 people have died in the battle between Islamic radicals and the Pakistani government. Over half the dead have taken place in the northwest, near the Afghan border. There, a truce with the tribes, which was supposed to have shut down Taliban and al Qaeda terrorist operations, in return for allowing the tribes to run the region (as they always have), has failed. In reaction to the Red Mosque battle, the pro-Taliban tribes have declared war on the government, and are attacking troops with roadside and suicide bombs.

The army can defeat the tribesmen in battle, but it's guerilla warfare where the tribes have always had an edge. But that edge as disappeared as the tribes became more dependent on outside goods, moved by truck over a few roads. For thousands of years in the past, the tribes were self-sufficient in their mountain valleys. Now, the tribes suffer when the army sets up checkpoints on those roads, and forces the tribesmen to attack the better armed and disciplined soldiers. The only thing the tribes have going for them is the fact that many of the Pakistani troops are religious, and a significant minority are Pushtun. While most of the officers and NCOs would remain loyal, there has long been a fear that, if the government cranked up the violence against the tribes too much, there would be increased desertions, and maybe even mutiny, in some units. So far, the government has made itself out to be the good guys, with their restraint during the siege of the Red Mosque. But going to war with the tribes is a roll of the dice. There's a chance that it could end in chaos within the army.

July 22, 2007: There have been over a dozen bombs reported in the Pakistani capital in the past few days, but none were actually found. People are nervous, and quick to report terrorist activity (real or imagined.)

China has ordered its citizens in Pakistan to stay away from crowded public places until further notice. Nearly a hundred Chinese have returned to China, at least temporarily. There are thousands of Chinese in Pakistan, working for commercial enterprises, or as representatives of the Chinese government.

July 21, 2007: For the second time this week, Islamic terrorists threw grenades at Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir. There are several ancient Hindu holy places in Kashmir, which is now a largely Moslem area.

July 20, 2007: In India, police have been arresting Maoists, seeking leaders and base camps of the increasingly violent communist terrorists.

July 19, 2007: Pakistan ordered two combat divisions (about 21,000 troops) to move into the northwest tribal areas. Pro-government tribes were asked to contribute several thousand more men for paramilitary duty (these are paid, temporary, irregular forces.) Also, in response to American criticism, Pakistan pointed out that, by general agreement, the Taliban was doing much more poorly this year, than last, and that al Qaeda's terror operations were not doing very well either.

In Kashmir, an Indian police raid captured a terrorist commander, and several lesser terrorists. The Islamic terrorist operations in Kashmir have been declining, as improved border security makes it more difficult for terrorist reinforcements to get across from the training camps in Pakistan, and Indian Moslems in Kashmir grow weary of nearly two decades of separatist violence.

July 17, 2007: In Pakistan, a terrorist bomb went off at a rally for the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court, who openly opposes the military government. No one took credit for the bomb. Meanwhile, the U.S. openly admitted that leaving counter-terror operations to the Pakistanis had failed, allowing the Taliban and al Qaeda to fund sanctuary along the Afghan border. The U.S. will adopt a new strategy, which includes American forces attacking terrorist targets inside Pakistan. Actually, the U.S. has been doing this, but rarely, in the last two years. Usually its Hellfire missiles fired from Predator UAVs. Technically, this sort of thing does not involve American troops inside Pakistan, and the Pakistanis always claim that the missile was theirs.

 

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