In the Pakistani tribal areas, the government effort to gain control, and
shut down Islamic terrorist (Taliban and al Qaeda) activity has stopped. The
tribal areas have never been controlled by the Pakistani government (or the
British colonial government before them). The tribes were allowed to run their
own affairs, as long as they did not raid outside their territory. That
agreement was violated over the last few years, when the Islamic terrorists
make attacks against Pakistani officials all over the country. The government
has made several of the traditional "punitive raids" since September 11, 2001,
but none of these took control of all the thousands of fortified tribal compounds
that dot the border zone. The army uses thousands of local policemen in these
operations, which is a problem because the cops are often related to the
rebellious tribesmen. About fifteen percent of army units are men from the
tribal areas. To further complicate matters, there has been, over the last
decade, a major change taking place in how the tribes run themselves. The
centuries old system of letting tribal elders settle disputes and make
decisions, is being overthrown, often violently, by a system based on armed
entrepreneurs who are, in effect, gangsters. There have long been entrepreneurial
warlords up in the hills, but the custom is more widespread this time around,
and often working with Islamic terrorist organizations. In the last six years,
nearly 300 tribal elders have been killed by the gangster or Islamic radical
thugs, and many more elders have shut up, or fled to the cities. The tribal
areas have become pretty wild, and the government wishes it would all just go
away. But it won't, and neither will the Americans and Europeans just across
the border in Afghanistan, worried about the new al Qaeda camps that are
training terrorists for attacks in the West. The new Pakistani government says
it will negotiate deals with the tribes that will shut down terrorist activity.
Few in Pakistan, or the West, believe that will work. But for the moment, the
diplomats insist that everyone go through the motions of believing that it
will. The only alternative is threatening the new Pakistani government with,
what, if they don't shut down the lawlessness in the tribal areas.
In India, Maoist
violence in eastern India is causing several dozen casualties a week. Some of
it is Maoists fighting leftist rivals, but mostly it is resisting police
efforts to shut down Maoist camps in remote areas.
2008: In southwest Pakistan, police arrested four Turks who, according to
material found with them (ammo, laptop full of terrorist documents) belonged to
al Qaeda. The four had false identity cards, and were trying to pass as
Afghans. Al Qaeda has training camps in villages along the Afghan border, in
tribal areas where the army and police do not venture. Foreigners fly into
Pakistan, then make their way to these camps, and are often caught by the police.
2008: In the Pakistani city of Karachi, political violence (between fans and
does of president Musharraf), left eight dead and nearly fifty injured.
2008: In southwest Pakistan, along the Iranian border, police clashed with
Sunni Islamic militants, killing three, while losing two police.
2008: In Indian Kashmir, police have killed or arrested seven leaders (including
the chief spokesman) of the largest Islamic terrorist organization (Hizbul
Mujahideen). Indian counter-terrorism efforts have shut down most Islamic
terrorist activity in Kashmir, over the past few years.