India-Pakistan: Technology Trumps Tribal Tenacity

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May 10, 2006: In Pakistan, the two separate tribal wars (against Pushtuns and Baluchis) go on. The army has 45,000 troops fighting several Pushtun tribes in Waziristan, along the Afghan border. In the last few months, the troops have killed nearly 350 and arrested 142 suspects. While the tribes say they are pro-Taliban, dozens of foreign fighters have been killed or captured. These are al Qaeda, and not shy about admitting it. Two months ago, 1,500 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters sought a spectacular victory by attacking a small army base. But the Pakistanis quickly brought in helicopters and artillery fire, repulsing the attack, and killing or wounding some twenty percent of the attackers. Since then, the tribesmen have reverted to their ancient tactics of ambush. This has not been as successful as in the past, as now the Pakistani army has dozens of American helicopters. The army is also using UAVs, to spot the ambushers before they can fire, and turn the ambush into a defeat for the tribesmen. The tribesmen have had to face aircraft before, and they don't like it and have never come up with an effective way to deal with it (except to fall flat on the ground, as from the air their brown clothing blends with earth to make them invisible.) But now the Americans have provided heat sensors. The camouflage effect of the traditional clothing doesn't work against that. What does still work is the willingness of the tribes to out-wait the army. To keep resisting until the soldiers go away. But this time, that may not work. After over half a century, the government sees a chance to finally bring the tribes to heel. The war on terror has turned into the war on the tribes. The Americans are providing technical and intelligence help, along with new equipment. Both the Pakistanis and Americans want the tribes out of the terror business, and neither care if the tribes lose some of their traditional freedoms along the way.

As a bonus, these operations, employing divisions and brigades, gives Pakistani troops invaluable combat and operational experience. This could be decisive in any future wars with India. Because both nations have nuclear weapons, it is believed that future wars will be brief and contained affairs along the border. In those circumstances, the combat experienced Pakistani troops would have an edge.

May 9, 2006: Over the last few days, a terrorist cell was destroyed inside India. A Pakistani Islamic terrorist from Kashmir was cornered and killed inside India (Delhi), another two were arrested. The terrorists continue to attempt attacks inside India, as Kashmir becomes more inhospitable, even though killings of uncooperative civilians has increased. The terrorists believe that India's booming economy is vulnerable to terror attacks, but so far, not enough terrorists have been sent into India to overwhelm counter-terrorism forces.

May 8, 2006: In central India, police killed five Maoist rebels. So far this year, nearly 140 people have died in Maoist related violence in India. As police have moved into villages and districts long controlled (via terror) by Maoist gangs, the Maoists have fought back. Most of the dead have been villagers, killed by Maoists to discourage cooperation with the police.

May 4, 2006: In Pakistan's Baluchistan, the tribal war has simmered down, with deaths coming from land mines and AK-47 bullets of the occasional ambush. The army is daring the tribes to make a major move, at which point the troops would round up major tribal figures.

 

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