India-Pakistan: Hunting Season


July 21, 2009: There are still small bands of Taliban wandering around Pakistan's Swat valley. Not all of them were able, or willing, to flee, and army patrols have to be alert to the possibility of a violent encounter. These Taliban groups do not seem determined to make trouble, but are trying to find an escape route amidst all the police and soldiers flooding the valley. In addition, some of the tribes living in areas adjacent to the Swat valley have turned on the Taliban, and formed militias to hunt down and kill any stray Taliban they can find. Thus as over a million refugees return to their homes in Swat, it's hunting season on the Taliban, with dozens of them killed, wounded or captured each day. While the Taliban like to boast of the Pushtun prowess at defeating foreigners who come into tribal lands, they are finding that many Pushtuns consider the Taliban the foreign enemy, and are working with the less dangerous foreigners (the Pakistani army) to hunt down and kill Taliban members.

Pakistani troops continue advancing into South Waziristan, searching for weapons, bomb building workshops, groups of Taliban willing to fight, and terrorists (especially suicide bombers). This is the home of the primary Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who has  $5 million U.S. and $615,000 Pakistani rewards on his head. American and Pakistani intelligence, and air forces, are cooperating in going after Mehsud and other Taliban leaders, as well as training camps and safe houses. The U.S. continues to increase the use of UAV attacks (with Hellfire missiles) on the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership. This has made life miserable for these guys, who have become very paranoid in their relationships with locals, and their travel arrangements. The Pakistani Taliban have tried to use civilians as human shields, but the Pakistani media has turned on the Taliban because of all the terrorist attacks, and don't play up the civilians killed along with the terrorist leaders nailed by a Hellfire.

The Taliban are striking back with suicide bombs and ambushes of police patrols. The Taliban use of suicide bombs, which mostly kill civilians, has made the terrorists very unpopular, even in the tribal territories. So the police get enough tips to succeed in finding many Taliban hideouts.

In three months of fighting in northwest Pakistan, some 1,700 Taliban have been killed, and even more wounded or captured. The main Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, is under additional pressure because Pakistan still has "collective responsibility" laws on the books for the tribal territories. That means all members of the Meshud tribe are subject to arrest or confiscation of their property until the head of the tribe, Baitullah Mehsud, is taken down. The Mehsuds are a powerful tribe, but not all Mehsuds support Baitullah Mehsud and his Taliban obsession.

The Pakistani war on the Taliban has left the Afghan Taliban without a safe area to retreat to. While the Afghan Taliban have lots of drug money, they are in bad shape because of this loss of a cross border sanctuary. With U.S. and NATO forces fighting their way into drug gang strongholds in Helmand province, the Taliban there have no place to retreat to. Oh, they can still scoot across the border, but will soon find themselves under attack in Pakistan as well.

The Indian government is now saying that they have underestimated the Maoist rebels for years, and now they are going to sort out this rural unrest throughout eastern India. But the government is ignoring the real reason for playing down the Maoists for decades. And that's the fact that the prominence of leftist, particularly communist, political parties played a major role in this light handed treatment of these leftist activists and terrorists.

July 20, 2009: Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only surviving terrorist of last Novembers Mumbai attacks, surprised everyone at his trial by suddenly confessing, and admitting his guilt. He then proceeded to name names of Pakistani Islamic terrorist leaders who had supervised his training and planned the Mumbai attacks. Indian police continue to find new evidence of how Pakistani Islamic terrorists operate inside India and Bangladesh (which is used for safe houses and a source of weapons and other supplies.)

In eastern India, Maoist rebels have increased their attacks on civilians accused of being police informers. The Maoists usually don't have firm evidence, so they will often kill someone who is not popular.

July 19, 2009: In eastern India (Jharkhand), police got a tip and arrested eight Maoists, including two local leaders.

July 16, 2009: At a refugee camp in the tribal territories, a UN official was killed during an attempted kidnapping. Grabbing foreign aid officials are seen as a quick way to make some ransom money. But these officials increasingly have bodyguards or work in guarded premises.

July 15, 2009: Bangladesh police arrested a leader of Indian terror group, Asif Reza Commando Force, as members of the group sought to recruit locally and expand their operation.




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