The fighting on the
Pakistani side of the Afghan border continues, even though it's the middle of
Winter. Some 10,000 Pakistanis have fled to Afghanistan, to get away from the
battles between Taliban tribesmen and Pakistani security forces. Much of the
fighting is tribe against tribe, as some support the Taliban/al Qaeda
coalition, while many do not. All the tribes, however, agree on keeping the
government out. This confuses things a bit in the border area.
February 21, 2008: India is gaining more control over its separatist
rebellions in the northeast (Moslems) and northwest (tribal groups). But the
Maoists in eastern and central India are becoming more popular as the rebels
adopt Robin Hood tactics (going after the rent (for landlords) and tax (for the
government) collectors, and trying to replace the local government with
something less corrupt.
February 19, 2008: The elections in
Pakistan resulted in defeat for president Musharraf's party, and the Islamic radical parties (who
lost 90 percent of their seats). Six years ago, Islamic conservative
politicians won control of the northwest and promised an end to corruption.
They failed to do anything about the stealing, and allowed Islamic militants to
set up shop. This was very unpopular in the tribal areas, and the voters were
not reluctant to show their displeasure.
The anti-Musharraf parties now control
over two-thirds of the seats in the Pakistani parliament, making it
theoretically possible to impeach Musharraf. The leaders of this new majority
say they will negotiate with the pro-Taliban tribes, in an attempt to end the
violence on the border. Based on past experience, this means a return to
non-interference on the border, allowing the Islamic radicals to do whatever
they want, as long as they do it in the tribal areas or Afghanistan. That won't
work, because the radicals among the Islamic groups insist on trying to take
control of Pakistan, and that means more terrorism throughout the country.
Pakistan is in the middle of a war, and the new parliamentary leaders are
calling for a ceasefire and negotiations.
In central India, police operations
against Maoist rebels left 17 dead (six police and 11 rebels). The police had
received a tip on a gathering of Maoists, and raided the meeting, which
resulted in a gun battle. To the east, police went after Maoists who had raided
police stations, killing more than a dozen of the rebel gunmen.
February 18, 2008: Islamic terrorists
in Pakistan launched half a dozen suicide bombing, and dozens of other attacks,
to try and disrupt parliamentary elections. In the northwest tribal areas, this
prevented about twenty percent of women from voting. This is Taliban country, where
the men like their women illiterate and confined to the house. In Baluchistan,
tribal separatists made about twenty attacks. Nationwide, about 20 percent of the 362 seats
in parliament are reserved for female candidates.
February 17, 2008: In Pakistan, two Red Cross staff, kidnapped
two weeks ago near the Afghan border, were released. The Red Cross insisted
that no ransom was paid, but would not say who the kidnappers were. The Red
Cross has about 400 staff in Pakistan, 90 percent of them locals. Bandits and
criminals prey on the Red Cross, stealing relief supplies and equipment, or
extorting "protection" payments. Local and tribal leaders will try to protect
the Red Cross operations, because these can be moved to another part of the
country, and the Red Cross uses that as leverage to obtain some relief from the
February 16, 2008: In eastern India, over 400 armed Maoist rebels
attacked police stations, leaving 13 police and two rebels dead. The objective of
the attacks was to steal weapons and ammo from police stocks.