2008: The U.S. has given Pakistan over
$10 billion in military and economic aid in the last seven years, and billions
more are promised. But with the newly elected Pakistani government unwilling to
shut down the Taliban (and many other Islamic radicals), the U.S. is using its
foreign aid as a club to force the Pakistanis to ignore the growing number of
border crossing incidents by U.S. forces. American UAVs regularly cross into
Pakistan, and small groups of soldiers sneak across to collect intelligence, or
guide smart bombs on targets.
The new Pakistani
government completed another cycle of Pakistani history, in which a civilian
government replaces a military one. Throughout Pakistan's 60 years of existence,
military governments deposed corrupt civilian ones, wear out their welcome with
unpopular measures, and are in turn replaced with elected governments that
proceed to make themselves unpopular with their corruption and inability to
carry out policies. The last military government had some success against the
Taliban and Islamic radicals. But the new civilian government wants to make
deals with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Ignoring the fact that the Islamic
radicals see democracy as "un-Islamic" and consider it an obligation to lie to
their enemies, the new government is moving forward with "peace" deals. The
government is trying to appease the Islamic radicals, to craft a deal whereby
the terrorists will not launch attacks inside Pakistan, while the government spouts
the usual anti-terrorism drivel.
government is applying the same strategy to the five year old peace deal with
India. This deal included curbing Islamic radicals who were running training
camps in Pakistan, and moving Islamic terrorists into India with the aid of
Pakistani border guards. After several years of crackdowns on these Islamic
militants, the new Pakistani government has backed off, and more Islamic
terrorists are crossing into India. The Indians are not happy.
is being less diplomatic than India about the role Pakistan is playing in
hosting Islamic radicals, and allowing them to operate along the border. Afghan
officials are calling out their Pakistani counterparts, and vowing to send the
war back into Pakistan, by allowing Afghan troops to use "hot pursuit" (of
Taliban fleeing into Pakistan.) If the Pakistani army tries to block this, the
Afghans will call on their U.S. and NATO allies for air and ground support.
This could get messy.
years of attracting Islamic radicals, Iraq is no longer the place to go. A year
ago, about a hundred Islamic radicals entered Iraq to fight (and usually die)
each month. Now, only a few dozen enter, with most of the others either staying
home or reconsidering Islamic radicalism. But 20-30 a month are heading for
Pakistan, to either fight there, or across the border in Afghanistan.
Taliban are defying the army along the border. The Taliban are kidnapping
paramilitary (recruited from the tribes) border police and threatening to kill
them if Taliban leaders are not released from prison. This puts the government
in an awkward position. If they comply, the Taliban tribes are stronger, if
they refuse, and the hostages are killed, the anti-Taliban tribes are angry at
2008: Indian Maoist rebels have been
attacking cell phone towers, either to force the phone companies to pay
protection money, or to prevent police informers from reporting in. The Maoists
are difficult to wipe out as long as rural poverty persists (as it has for thousands
of years) in the countryside. India crippled its economy for half a century
after independence by trying to make socialist methods (state control of key
industries, restrictions on foreign investment) work. No economic growth meant the rural poor stayed
poor. The politicians finally wised up in the 1990s, and the economy has been
growing ever since. But the prosperity is getting to the countryside slowly.
And until it does, the Maoists will have plenty of support for their solution
(a communist dictatorship).
2008: Pakistan has signed a peace deal
with the tribes around the Khyber Pass (into Afghanistan). This came after a
week of fighting pro-Taliban tribesmen. The government doesn't care if the
Taliban tribes go fight in Afghanistan, or impose strict lifestyle rules on
their own people. But the new Pakistani government will fight if the Taliban
try to extend their influence into the towns and cities of the tribal areas.
Over the last half century, the government has taken control of the urban areas
in the tribal zone along the Afghan border. The government will not give this
up, even though the pro-Taliban tribes make a big deal out of taking back the