India-Pakistan: Bodyguard Of Lies


November 10,2008: In the last three months, there have been over 20 U.S. missile strikes (usually with 107 pound Hellfires launched from Predator or Reaper UAVS) in Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda have tried to respond to each of these attacks with a suicide bombing, but have only managed one such attack for every two or three Hellfire strikes. Pakistan is running another public relations campaign in support of these Hellfire attacks. It goes like this. These Hellfire missile attacks are not popular with most Pakistanis, who see these UAV operations as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. At the same time, Pakistan wants the attacks to continue, as the Hellfire missiles have killed dozens of key Taliban and al Qaeda leaders so far this year. This has helped make it possible for the Pakistani army to attack the Taliban and al Qaeda bases in Pakistan, without taking heavy casualties (and the risk of being forced to call off the attacks because of that). But why not give Pakistan the UAVs and missiles and let them do the deed? Not possible, because of the large number of pro-terrorist personnel in Pakistani intelligence. With the U.S. making the attacks, there are no leaks. Intel information from the Pakistanis, plus what American operators obtain from their own spies in the border region, make it possible to locate terrorist leaders, without the bad guys getting warned by pro-terrorist operators in Pakistani intelligence. To make this work, the Pakistani government has to admit that the attacks are taking place (to appease many politicians under pressure from nationalist constituents), and keep protesting to the U.S., while simultaneously (and discreetly) feeding the American  information about Taliban and al Qaeda operations in Pakistan (especially from the hundreds of Islamic militants captured in the past few months). The U.S. generally ignores the Pakistani protests, although placating press releases are issued periodically. Thus is the truth of the border war against Islamic terrorists, protected by a bodyguard of lies.

The Taliban are directing more of their terror attacks at pro-government tribal leaders and government officials (especially local police and paramilitary forces). Fighting the army is a losing proposition, because the troops have effective air power and artillery. But the tribal forces are amateurs, and easier to get close to.

Pakistan has another serious problem. The new government is seen as anti-business, and this has caused capital flight. That, and the growing global recession, has caused many export businesses to cut back or shut down. Foreign reserves (to pay for imports) are down to about a month's worth of imports. Foreign nations, and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) can lend money to help out, but this often comes with conditions. The IMF wants Pakistan to cut military spending, and the U.S. (and any other Western lenders) want more action against Islamic militants.

In Kashmir, Islamic radicals are changing their tactics. The terrorism has not worked, and the Indians have made getting terrorists and supplies across the border from Pakistan, very difficult. So more effort is going into non-violent demonstrations against Indian control of Kashmir (and its largely Moslem population). At the same time, more Islamic militants are being smuggled in via Nepal, where the border is less tightly controlled. But Pakistani Islamic terrorists in that part of India are easier to spot, and many are being arrested before they can get to Kashmir, or other parts of India.

In the Bajaur district of Pakistan, nearly two thousand Islamic militants have been killed, and over a thousand arrested (about a third of those were foreigners). The Taliban had been sending about a hundred additional fighters a day into Bajaur, mostly from across the border in Afghanistan. But the number of reinforcements has been declining over the past few weeks. Partly it's the Winter weather. The Pushtun tribes don't like to fight during the Winter, as the bad weather makes movement more difficult, and sharply increases the likelihood of death from wounds, accidents, disease or exposure. There's also the problem of getting killed or captured by the army in Bajaur. In three months of fighting, the Taliban have lost over 5,000 men (dead, wounded, captured, illness, desertion) in Bajaur. The army has lost about one tenth as much, mainly because the army has refused to expose their troops to ambush and the other tactics favored by the Pushtun tribesmen. As a result, the Taliban have had to rely on suicide bombing of checkpoints to cause most of their casualties on the troops. But the soldiers and paramilitary local forces have noticed the disparity in casualties, and their morale has held up because of it. On the Taliban side, there is no joy, and desertion is a growing problem. The Taliban are doing a little better in the Swat valley, but know it's only a matter of time before the Taliban in Bajaur are crushed, and the Pakistani army will move more forces into Swat, and the last Taliban stronghold in Waziristan.

India has a arrested a colonel in army military intelligence, and a retired army major, for aiding Hindu nationalists in making terror attacks on Indian Moslems. This is the first time senior army officers were charged with this sort of activity. The army insists that it's a random thing, that with over 100,000 army officers, and most of them Hindu, it was only a matter of time before one went bad and got caught. Nevertheless, India is taking a closer look at its Officer Corps.

In eastern India, Maoist rebels are attacking, intimidating, and sometimes killing anti-communist politicians running for election. Voting begins on November 14th. More police and soldiers have been sent to the areas with the most election violence.

November 2, 2008: Indian Maoist rebels in West Bengal tried to assassinate the Chief Minister of the state with a roadside bomb. The attack failed, but there were casualties.


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