India-Pakistan: Tribes Protest Women Voting



December 20, 2007: In Pakistan, the Taliban violence has shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan itself. Since last Summer, battles along the border (Taliban trying to cross, or attacking border police) have fallen nearly in half. The Pakistani army has been battling the pro-Taliban tribesmen inside Pakistan, and diverting the pro-Taliban tribesmen from their efforts to make attacks inside Afghanistan.  The army efforts  have extended to the Swat Valley, a northern area some  distance from the border, but a base for a growing number of Islamic radicals. An army force of nearly 20,000 troops has driven the militants out. The leaders of the Swat uprising have fled, apparently to areas closer to the border, and are demanding that the army get out of the area. The government continues operations against the Taliban forces, as police are arresting Taliban sympathizers and Islamic militants.

In the last week, there have been half a dozen bombings in the Pakistan tribal areas. Half of them injured no one, and were directed at music stores and Internet cafes (which the Taliban use for communication, but are widely seen as places men go to view online porn). The rest were aimed at the police and army, and killed a dozen people.



December 19, 2007:  Indian police were fighting unrest on three fronts. In the northwest, there was a deadly riot in Kashmir, leaving one dead. People were upset that the government would not establish a college in their town. In the northeast, tribal separatist violence left over a dozen wounded in the last week. In eastern India, Maoists destroyed a primary school in a rural area, as part of an effort to terrorize locals into supporting them. Police continued searching for and arresting Maoists who were living in residential area (as opposed to rural camps, where the groups of armed Maoists are).



December 15, 2007:  The six week state of emergency in Pakistan was ended. Pakistan consolidated control over nuclear weapons (and their development) in a National Command Authority, headed by the president and prime minister (as deputy). Before that, control was split between the politicians and the military and was rather vague.



In the Maldives, three men were sentenced to 15 years in prison for carrying out a terror bombing attack three months ago, that wounded a dozen tourists. The Islamic radicals were intent on destroying the tourist industry, which is the main source of income in the Maldives, because they saw it as un-Islamic. Most people on the Maldives did not agree with that, and justice was swift.  However, ten Islamic radicals responsible for planning the bombings fled the country the day before the attack, and are being sought in Pakistan.



December 14, 2007:  Elders from several of the Pushtun tribes along the border have threatened violence if the government tries to set up polling places for women. Some of the Pushtun tribes are not only against education for women, but voting, and much else. This is one reason the Taliban are so popular in these parts. The Taliban interpretation of Islam comes largely from the customs of a few Pushtun tribes.





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