India-Pakistan: March 27, 2004

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The fighting near the Afghan border, in South Waziristan, turned ugly when the bodies of eight Pakistani soldiers were found, apparently executed after they were captured several days ago. The al Qaeda call for Pakistani troops to rebel has had no apparent effect, and now this atrocity will likely inflame Pakistani attitudes towards the hundreds of al Qaeda fighters surrounded in the hills. Many of the al Qaeda are foreigners (mainly Uzbeks and Chechens), which makes them even more suspect in the eyes of Pakistanis. Al Qaeda's public call for rebellion against the Pakistani government, and the governments response that it will destroy al Qaeda, makes it likely that al Qaeda will have a hard time continuing to hide out in the border area. It was long assumed that Pakistan would just go through the motions of trying to root al Qaeda out of the tribal territories. But the ferocity of the fighting, and the number of casualties, indicates a serious effort to eliminate al Qaeda. The Taliban are another matter, as they are often related to people they are hiding with along the Afghan border. Even if the Taliban are not related, they are Pushtuns, and culturally related. Although about 40 percent of Afghans are Pushtuns, there are even more Pushtuns living in northwest Pakistan.

In southern India, police searched for a group of about a hundred Maoist rebels, who attacked a remote luxury resort and burned it down Thursday night. The rebels cut the phone lines, which delayed the police response. 


 

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