India-Pakistan: Embarrassing Questions

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July 7, 2013: Pakistan has received nearly $26 billion from the United States since September 11, 2001. Two-thirds of that was military aid, to be used in fighting Islamic terrorists. But the Pakistani generals stole as much as they could and devoted little to fighting terrorism. Pakistan still expects about $1.5 billion a year in American aid, but U.S. taxpayers and their political representatives are outraged at the Pakistani refusal to shut down blatant terrorist sanctuaries in the tribal territories of the northwest and general misuse of aid money. The American Congress is threatening to sharply cut aid to Pakistan, with a third of it withheld in the next year. If that does not get some action against terrorists, there will be more cuts.

Pakistan responds to these threats with denials, indifference, and pleas for understanding. That last item is the only honest reaction, because Pakistan does have some serious problems in the tribal territories that have nothing to do with Islamic radicalism. A decade of post-2001 anti-terrorist operations in the tribal territories (often only after threats from the enraged Americans) led to the Pakistani government finally making an effort to fundamentally change the way things are run up there. The century old agreement (originally between the British colonial officials and the Pushtun tribal chiefs) gave the tribes a lot of autonomy, in exchange for peace. This was continued when the new Pakistani government replaced British control in 1947. But over a decade of Taliban unrest has pushed the government to face the problem (of tribal governance) head on, and the 1901 agreement has been subject to more and more changes. Not all the tribal people, and their leaders, are unhappy with this, and new reforms are still being negotiated and introduced. The Taliban terrorism exposed the weakness of tribal government. Many believe that change can't be any worse than what is happening now in the Pushtun tribal areas. The government finds itself caught in a tribal civil war (between reformers and traditionalists) and the military’s own desire to protect the terrorists who work (more or less) for the generals.

Most Pakistanis believe that if the Americans had not responded so violently to the September 11, 2001 attacks (which many Pakistanis blame on Israel or the CIA, not Islamic terrorists) there would be no Islamic terrorism problem in Pakistan. All these beliefs are very real in Pakistan and politicians have to deal with (or simply exploit) them. There seems to be more exploiting than dealing. At the moment the most politically popular position is to shut down American UAV attacks on Islamic terrorists and make peace with the Taliban. What prevents this from happening is the fact the U.S. can say no and has the military, economic, and diplomatic clout to make that stick. Moreover, the Pakistani military (and intelligence agencies) rely on the UAV attacks to keep terrorists hostile to Pakistan in check. The Pakistani generals also need some American diplomatic support against their own government. That’s because, after more than half a century of getting their way, the generals are finding that most Pakistanis no longer believe that India is a threat or that their generals are honorable men dedicated to the welfare of Pakistan. No, the generals are now accused of corruption and exploiting the Pakistani people for personal gain. These problems have been getting worse over the past three decades and now the generals are seen as part of the problem, not part of any solution. It’s not just the active duty generals who are scared, but many of the retired ones as well, especially those living like very wealthy men who cannot justify their wealth. While some of the well-off generals come from the elite (and very rich) families, most do not and embarrassing questions are being asked by journalists, prosecutors, and Pakistanis in general. The generals have lost every war Pakistan has been in, but they have been successful at exploiting their own government and getting rich. They are no longer seen as military men but as thieves in uniform.

Decades of pro-Islamic terrorist propaganda in Pakistan (where the army has backed supporting these groups since the 1970s for use against India, because army forces kept getting defeated by their Indian counterparts) has most Pakistanis still supporting peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, despite the fact that the Taliban makes no secret of the fact that it considers such negotiations a tactical tool to gain some advantage and eventually impose a religious dictatorship on Pakistan. Westerners find this hard to believe, but you need only peruse Pakistani media (plenty of it has English language versions) to see the twisted logic in action.

Pakistan has other problems. Afghans are not happy about recent Pakistani suggestions that Afghanistan should make a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban, especially one that gives the Taliban veto power of some government decisions (in effect, making Islamic law supreme to a certain degree). This is anathema to most Afghans and is seen as another Pakistani attempt to gain control over Afghanistan.

In eastern India ( Bihar State) eight bombs went off between 5:30AM and 5:58AM. Two people were wounded, and police later found two more bombs and disabled them. All the explosions took place at a major Buddhist religious shrine (Buddha was born in India) and terrorists are suspected, but no one took credit for the attacks. Maoists are active in the area but are not known to be on particularly bad terms with the Buddhists.

July 6, 2013: Indian and Chinese officials met in China and agreed to try and work out their border dispute, or at least keep things quiet on the border. China has not backed down on its claims to Indian territory.

In Lahore Pakistan a bomb went off in a restaurant, killing five people. No one took credit for the attack, which took place in a high security area of the city.

July 5, 2013: The Indian defense minister arrived in China for a four day visit and was greeted by the local mass media criticizing India (via the remarks of a retired Chinese general) for deploying more forces to the Chinese border and blaming border disputes with China for recent increases in Indian defense spending. The Chinese comments assumed that India was definitely in the wrong for continuing to occupy 90,000 square kilometers of territory claimed by China. India was also accused of being the only country to increase its defense spending because of Chinese territorial claims. It is no secret that nearly all of China’s neighbors have blamed their defense budget increases on the need to deal with Chinese territorial claims and growing aggression by Chinese forces in support of those claims. China is making it clear that it is not bothered by the nuclear threat (of Indian’s ballistic missiles and their nuclear warheads) and will keep pushing to get the territory it claims. Chinese officials sought to placate their Indian guests by pointing out that the Chinese general was retired and had a reputation for making outrageous remarks. The Indians, however, knew that nothing like that gets into Chinese media without government permission.

In Pakistan China agreed to spend $18 billion to build a road from Pakistan’s Indian Ocean port of Gwadar into northwest China. This will require drilling long tunnels through the Himalayan Mountains on the border (in Pakistani controlled Kashmir).

July 4, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (outside Peshawar) police killed two Taliban. Peshawar is the scene of several sweeps (for Islamic terrorists) by police and soldiers. Many arrests are being made and the operation is expected to go on for at least several more days. Elsewhere in the tribal territories (South Waziristan), Pakistan complained that over fifty mortar shells were fired from nearby Paktika province just across the border in Afghanistan. The barrage damaged 30 buildings and wounded five people. Afghanistan and Pakistan claim that each country gives shelter to terrorists.

July 3, 2013: Pakistani leaders and media angrily denounced accusations by the head of the Afghan Army that Pakistan created the Afghan Taliban, still exercises a lot of control over them, and is trying to gain control over Afghanistan. Details of how Pakistan created the Afghan Taliban two decades ago are well documented, and many Taliban leaders have boasted about it. That Pakistan still exercises a lot of control over the Afghan Taliban is also true, and it is no secret that the Afghan Taliban depend on a sanctuary it has in and around Quetta, the largest city in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan). Quetta is safe because Pakistan will not let American UAVs to operate there. Quetta is where the Afghan Taliban leadership has been sheltered since 2002, and is right across the Afghan border from the Taliban heartland in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Since the Afghan Taliban has not made (or sponsored) terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, there has been an unofficial truce with the Pakistani government. Lately this cooperation has expanded. For over a year now the Pakistani military has been trying to persuade the Afghan Taliban to help deal with anti-Pakistan Islamic terrorists in Pakistan. Most of these attacks are carried out by factions belonging to the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban were persuaded to help as long as they only had to attack the Pakistani Taliban inside Afghanistan. There was another reason for this as well. Pakistan assisted the Afghan Taliban in getting permission to open up an official office in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar recently.

In eastern India (Jharkhand State) police launched a large search operation to find the Maoists who had ambushed and killed six policemen the day before.

July 2, 2013: In Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV attack killed 17 people in a Haqqani Network compound. Last November the UN added the Pakistan-supported Haqqani Network to its list of international terrorists. All UN members are supposed to go after international terrorists and Pakistan complied, on paper, by insisting that it was seeking to shut down the Haqqani Network. But that is not what is happening, as the Haqqani Network is still safe in North Waziristan. This was the third American UAV attack in the Pakistani tribal territories since the May elections that brought to power a new civilian government that has vowed to halt these UAV attacks. The new government has been distracted by all the Islamic terror attacks on Pakistanis since May, which have killed nearly 200 people. Elsewhere in the tribal territories (outside Peshawar), Taliban attacked a checkpoint, killing six paramilitary police and kidnapping two.

In India Kashmir police were fired on from the Pakistani side of the border as they returned from collecting the body of an Islamic terrorist who died the day before when one or more of the grenades he was carrying went off.

July 1, 2013: In India, Kashmir a policeman was killed and two others wounded when they fought Islamic terrorists they had cornered. Three of the terrorists also died. Elsewhere in India, Kashmir a mob of 500 locals, protesting the shooting of two locals by soldiers, set fire to a school complex that had been donated by the army. Elsewhere in Kashmir, near the Pakistani border, an Islamic terrorist was killed when grenades he was carrying went off as he was trying to sneak across the border. Indian troops detected this and confronted the intruder.

June 30, 2013: Three bombs went off in the Pakistani tribal territories, killing 53 people. A bomb in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) killed 28 Shia. Near the Pushtun city of Peshawar in the northwest, a roadside bomb killed 17 paramilitary police. Another bomb in North Waziristan killed eight soldiers. Sunni terrorists (similar to al Qaeda) are responsible for the anti-Shia violence, while the Pakistani Taliban is the major threat in the northwest. North Waziristan is maintained as a terrorist sanctuary. There are soldiers in some of the large towns, and terrorists attack these troops when they venture outside the towns (which they have to do periodically to bring in supplies). Baluchistan suffers from Baluchi tribal terrorists demanding more autonomy and a larger share of natural gas revenues (the source of all Pakistani gas is in Baluchistan). The anti-Shia attacks are carried out by Sunni Islamic radicals who have been at it for decades. The government is more concerned with the Baluchi and have been fighting an illegal (and regularly denied) “dirty war” (kidnapping and often murdering suspected Baluchi terrorists) against them. Much to the dismay of Pakistani Shia (about twenty percent of the population) the government has been much less aggressive against the Sunni Islamic terrorists.

In India, Kashmir soldiers fired on teenagers they say were attacking them. Two of the teenagers were killed and this caused an uproar among local civilians. The soldiers are being investigated for possible misbehavior.

 

 

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