India-Pakistan: Taliban Truce Betrayed By Reality


March 10, 2009:  In Pakistan, the peace deal with the Taliban in the Swat valley was, to no one's surprise, promptly violated by the Islamic radicals. Instead of the "Sharia Lite" specified in the peace deal, the Taliban are doing what they please. No music or video stores, no schools for girls, and government officials continue to be attacked. The government has also released twelve jailed Taliban leaders, and continues to negotiate with Taliban leaders elsewhere along the border. There is every indication that this peace deal with the Taliban will turn out like the others. The Taliban will continue to try and expand the area under their control, and eventually the government will be forced to fight back. This time around, it appears that the government counterattack will come sooner, because the Taliban are more aggressive.

The Pakistani government continues to be distracted by its conflict with the powerful Sharif clan. Led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the family  dominates politics in Punjab, and ran the country until the army took over in 1999. The Supreme Court has banned the two Sharif brothers, including Nawaz, from politics. This in retaliation for not cooperating with the current government. The government has called the Sharif's bluff, threatening them with arrest and risking civil disorder, or worse.  Punjab is the most populous (with nearly half the nation's population) province. The Sharif brothers lead a powerful political party, the Moslem League, and are launching more and more demonstrations and other organized protests against the government.

On the Afghan border, around Bajur, the army is still fighting the Taliban. After a Taliban ambush killed 13 policemen, the army retaliated with ground troops and helicopter gunships, killing at least 15 Islamic militants. The Mamund tribe, which controls most of the people in Bajur, has agreed to surrender Taliban leaders in its area and submit to government control.

Pakistani police have identified the men who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team last week. The attackers were "minor Islamic terrorists" who apparently came up with the idea themselves. None of the actual attackers have been arrested, and apparently all have fled for refuge in the tribal territories. However, Pakistani police have arrested over a hundred people, many of them known associates of, and facilitators for the actual attackers.

In Kashmir, the border police are finding that the smuggling routes long used to bring Islamic terrorists and weapons across from Pakistan, are now being used to move Afghan heroin into India. The booming Indian economy is producing many more potential customers for the Afghan drugs.

Indian police continue their offensive against Maoist rebels in eastern India. Police are seeking out Maoist camps, and the rebel leaders who live there. Several camps and Maoist leaders have been attacked recently.

In Bangladesh, investigators believe that about 450 members of the border guards (the 45,000 strong Bangladesh Rifles) were involved in the recent mutiny (for better pay and working conditions), and that the mutineers killed 74 people, including senior officers. Meanwhile, the government has blocked access to YouTube, and other sites, for making available an audio recording of a meeting between the recently elected prime minister and some senior army officers. The generals could be heard talking back to the prime minister when she insisted on trying to negotiate with the Bangladesh Rifles mutineers. The army wanted to attack immediately.

March 9, 2009:  Over the weekend, three bomber went off in the Pakistani tribal territories, killing fifteen people. There were also reports of a UAV being shot down by Islamic militants. The U.S. promptly denied that it was one of theirs. Moreover, the U.S. Predator and Reaper UAVs deliberately fly above 10,000 feet, beyond the rage of Taliban weapons. If a UAV did go down, it was probably Pakistani, as they use smaller ones that fly low enough get hit by machine-gun fire. But the Pakistanis don't say much about their UAVs, and most mass media are unaware that Italian Falco UAVs began arriving in Pakistan two years ago.




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