India-Pakistan: Tribal Politics Trumps Border Security

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December27, 2006: Pakistan has offered to build a fence, and plant landmines, along portions of the Afghan border, to prevent Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists from crossing. Afghanistan opposes this, because the barriers would make it more difficult for Pushtun tribesmen, from tribes that straddle the border, to freely cross. Moreover, Afghanistan does not recognize parts of the border, and wants Pakistan to shut down Taliban bases inside Pakistan. This is difficult for Pakistan to do, as the tribes do not like outside interference, and are currently undergoing a civil war of their own, as various factions (traditional elders, Islamic conservatives, newly wealthy men) struggle for control of the tribes.

In Bangladesh, rival political parties fought in the streets for the last week, leaving several hundred injured. The violence is over accusations of corruption in the voting process.

December 26, 2006: A recent opinion poll in South Asia found that about half of Pakistanis don't care if their country is ruled by a democracy or not. In fact, a majority in Pakistan, and Bangladesh, preferred rule by the military. It was quite the opposite in India and Sri Lanka. It appears that the lower the education levels, the more preference for non-democratic rule. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, economic problems are of paramount importance, with so many people just getting by. Moreover, in Pakistan, there has been little example of democracy working, and producing a government that is any better than a non-democratic one.

December 25, 2006: In Kashmir, three days of fighting followed an operation to arrest Islamic terrorists in their rural hideouts. Several of the terrorists were found to be Pakistanis. At least five people were killed.

December 22, 2006: On the Indian-Bangladesh border, two more Bangladeshis were killed by Indian border guards. That makes about a hundred Bangladeshis killed this year for trying to cross the border illegally. Sometimes, the Bangladeshi border guards will fire on their Indian counterparts, when the Indians are seen trying to stop Bangladeshis from crossing. Population pressure in Bangladesh makes crossing illegally into India attractive, but the tribal peoples on the Indian side resent the illegal migrants, and stage violent protests against the Indian government for not keeping the Bangladeshis out.

December 21, 2006: Pakistan is feeling the international heat to do something about the terrorist sanctuary it has allowed on the Afghan border. Basically, Pakistan told the tribes that if they kept quiet (at least in Pakistan) and did not harbor anti-Pakistani terrorists, the government would stop trying to take control of the tribal areas. Unfortunately, this deal, according to the tribes, allowed Taliban terrorists from both Afghanistan and Pakistan to establish bases, and raid into Afghanistan. Pakistani officials say they are talking to the tribal leaders, to try and clear up with Taliban business.

 

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