India-Pakistan: January 4, 2004

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Unexpectedly, the leaders of India and Pakistan, both at a South Asian summit meeting in Pakistan, held a meeting to discuss the ways to reduce tensions between their two nations. 

Meanwhile, Pakistani police arrested eight men as suspects in the two recent attempts on president Musharraf's life. The suspects are members of Islamic radical organizations that Musharraf had banned. The majority of Pakistan's population (especially the tribal peoples and the very poor), back Islamic radical and conservative positions. The minority supports Western style democracy. But since Pakistan never went reforms (as India did) in the 1950s to deal with the feudal landholding and political system, democracy has not been possible. With Musharraf determined to clean up government in Pakistan without creating an Islamic republic, there are many, many people out there who would like to kill him. If Musharraf did die, it's unlikely that the Islamic radicals and conservatives could agree on a candidate to replace him. Another general, or former general, would step up. And all would remain as before. That is, a mess.

In Bhutan, the army captured the last of thirty camps used by Indian rebels. Troops arrested 24 rebels in the last five days, the rest fleeing into the bush, or back into India. In addition to the camps, the army destroyed 35 observation posts the Indian rebels had used to watch out for strangers approaching their camps. The army now has to try and either flush the rebels out of the bush, or push them back into India. The rebels, it is feared, might resort to banditry in order to support themselves. The Indian army has increased patrols on its side of the border, making it dangerous for the rebels to flee into India. 

Along the 1,200 kilometer border between Pakistani Baluchistan and Afghanistan, police and troops continue to arrest smugglers trying to bring weapons into Pakistan. Today, a shipment of over a hundred anti-tank and anti-personnel mines (plus RPGs and rifle ammo) was seized. Police continue to collect information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be moving from village to village in Baluchi tribal areas that are still pro-Taliban and pro-al Qaeda. Bin Laden has also been reportedly seen inside Iran, where Islamic conservatives control the police and provide aide for al Qaeda members who fled Afghanistan in late 2001. 

 

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