India-Pakistan: Twilight of the Tribal Traditions

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January 24, 2006: The hunt for al Qaeda is forever changing the relationship of the tribes along the Afghan border, and the government of Pakistan. Since it's founding in 1947, Pakistan has basically left the border tribes alone. That changed after 911, and has continued to change as the Pakistani army moves into the area, building roads and installing communications facilities. New American helicopters give the army more mobility in the area than ever before. The traditional tribal and religious leaders resist these incursions, for change threatens their power over the people in the region.

January 22, 2006: Indian police arrested Shayek Abdur Rahman, head of the outlawed Bangladeshi Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group. This outfit is believed responsible for the wave of recent bombings in Bangladesh. Things have been hot for Rahman in Bangladesh, so he fled to India (a common tactic for gangsters.) However, Indian police are currently hot on the trail of many high ranking Islamic terrorists.

January 21, 2006: In Pakistan's southwest (Baluchistan), troops and police continue to hunt armed tribesmen who oppose the central government. This has gotten ugly, with raids sometimes ending in torture or killings of locals. For the last few years, the tribesmen have sniped at and harassed soldiers, so there is an element of payback going on there.

January 20, 2006: Terrorists blew up an electricity tower in the Pakistani border area, cutting off electricity for two towns.

January 19, 2006: The American missile attack in Pakistan's tribal region apparently killed four al Qaeda leaders, including one with a five million dollar price on his head. Local tribal leaders are up in arms at this attack, partly because it shows that the Pakistani government has an ally who can strike from the sky anywhere, at any time. No Pakistani government had that power before, and the independent tribal chiefs don't like it.

 

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