India-Pakistan: Taliban Pushes, Gets Shoved Back


June 30, 2008: In Pakistan, banned Islamic radical groups are reforming, often under new names, in the cities, especially Karachi. This is a challenge to the new government, which hasn't yet decided how to respond. Meanwhile, up in the tribal territories, the army continues to push the Taliban out of the Peshawar suburbs. Officers mentioned that an advance against the Taliban in the Swat Valley would be next. Meanwhile, the Taliban has suspended peace talks with the government, if only because the Taliban never had any intention of honoring any agreements they negotiated.

The government believes that a lot of the worst violence is the work of al Qaeda foreigners (from Central Asia, the Middle East and Chechnya). Many of these guys have been around since late 2001, when they were driven out of Afghanistan. But the "foreigners" have often offended some of the tribes, and are not universally accepted up in the hills. More Arabs have been moving in of late, as al Qaeda abandons Iraq, to make a last stand along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

June 29, 2008: Maoist gunmen attacked a boat crossing a reservoir near the southern coast of India. Most of the 64 police on board were killed. The remote area is a major base for Maoists, and thousands of counter-terror troops are moving in to flush out the communist rebels.

June 28, 2008: Pakistani troops moved to drive Taliban gunmen out of Peshawar, and other areas they do not, by tradition, control (as members of their tribes, not as Taliban, which is too recent a creation to have much tradition.)

June 27, 2008: Pakistani troops could be seen moving towards Peshawar, the major city (with a population of over three million) in the Pushtun tribal area along the Afghan border. In recent days, Taliban gunmen have been moving into Peshawar, apparently with the intention of taking over. Peshawar is on the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, a major gateway of the ancient Silk Road between China and the Middle East, and the modern day main route into Afghanistan. While the Pushtun tribes control the countryside, the Pakistani government has always controlled Peshawar, and major towns in the tribal areas. With the Taliban now moving in on Peshawar, the government has to respond. Too much money is at stake. The tribes can have their backcountry wasteland, but the government wants to hang on to the cash cows. Now truckloads of Taliban are in Peshawar, demanding the theaters and video shops close, and kidnapping Christians.

June 26, 2008: In the Swat Valley, pro-Taliban followers of a local Islamic cleric, invaded Pakistan's only ski resort (nearly 20,000 feet up in the mountains) and burned it down.

June 25, 2008: Pakistani Taliban captured 27 pro-government tribesmen and later killed 22 of them in Waziristan. This has caused the pro-government tribes to demand army intervention, so that revenge can be obtained and honor maintained.

June 24, 2008: In the last week, Pakistani Taliban loyal to tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud have, well, gone wild in Waziristan, near the Afghan border. This includes attacking pro-government tribesmen and police guarding the Khyber Pass (one of the main roads into Afghanistan). The Taliban tribesmen have also been hijacking food trucks headed for areas occupied by Shia. The violence between Sunni Moslems and Shia (whom the Sunni consider heretics) predates the creation of the Taliban.

June 23, 2008: While the Islamic terrorists have failed to drive India out of Kashmir, they have managed, in the last two decades, to drive most (95 percent) of the Hindus from the Kashmir Valley. But many Hindu shrines, some over 3,000 years old, remain. Thousands of Hindus return each year to pray at these shrines, and the Moslems have begun agitating to restrict access to these shrines. The most militant Moslems want the shrines destroyed. Although Moslem armies first entered this region a thousand years ago, the struggle between Islam and much more ancient Hindu religion continues.




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