India-Pakistan: Armed, Starving And Dangerous


September 21, 2009: India and the United States are pressuring Pakistan to prosecute the six main Islamic radicals responsible for last year's Mumbai terror attack. Pakistan is going through the motions, but there is much fear that they will not follow through. Killing Indians and Westerners is very popular with many Pakistanis, sort of a secret pleasure. The Islamic terrorists have lots of supporters throughout all levels of Pakistani society. Officially, this cannot be admitted, but if you look at how Islamic terrorists have been able to operate, without government interference, for decades, you can see the impact of this support.

Operations in Pakistan's Swat valley continue, with the Taliban on the run, but not yet wiped out. Five months of fighting in the valley have left 1,800 Taliban, 330 soldiers and police and several hundred civilians dead.

The weakening economy, and the inefficiencies created by the growing corruption, have led to increasing food shortages, or inability to buy food because of continually rising prices. There are also growing electricity shortages, for the same reasons. This problem has been around for years, and much anxious debate has accompanied it. But officials and politicians have been unable to get organized and do anything about the corruption and other government created ills. This is why many Pakistanis continue to see Islamic radicals as a viable alternative to their current government.

Few al Qaeda operatives are active in Afghanistan, and many more of them have been trying to establish bases in Pakistan. They have had some success, but face continued attacks from the local police, and American UAVs (who have killed some 300 al Qaeda this year). The UAV attacks are particularly devastating because they tend to target leaders and technical personnel. The al Qaeda leadership has been hurt badly, and efforts to cut off the supply of information (about where these leaders are) has led to many innocent Pakistanis being killed. This  has increased tension with tribesmen in the border areas where al Qaeda hides out. There are several tribal militias that actively seek out al Qaeda in their territory (or trying to pass through). Pakistan's tribal territories are the last place where al Qaeda can find refuge, for camps and safe houses, but the atmosphere is growing increasing hostile, and lethal. The Taliban have similar problems with American UAVs, and respond the same way. Recently, Taliban killed the nephew and father-in-law of Baitullah Mehsud (head of the Pakistani Taliban, who was recently killed by an American Hellfire missile.)

Pakistan is being more vigilant in detecting and arresting Islamic militants trying to enter and leave the country. Islamic radicals from Europe and North America have been accustomed to freely travelling to and from terrorist facilities in Pakistan. Not so much anymore. This includes those who thought sneaking across the Iranian border would be easier. Sometimes it is, but mostly it isn't. The Iranians don't mind Sunni Islamic terrorists (who tend to be hostile to Shia Moslems, which most Iranians are) passing through. One problem with this is the growing number of terror suspects sitting in Pakistani jails. Many are just terrorist suspects, without enough evidence against them to assure a conviction.

Overnight, Pakistani police in the North West Frontier Province, acting on a tip, interrupted a plot to assassinate provincial Education Minister Sardar Hussain Babak. Four terrorists were killed, including the teenage suicide bomber, who detonated the explosives he was wearing.

The Pakistani Taliban, under unprecedented attack by the Pakistani military this year, have not been able to obtain much help from their Afghan brethren. That's because the Afghan Taliban are also under attack, and the drug gangs that supply the money, which pays for most of the Afghan Taliban gunmen, are not interested in subsidizing a similar force in Pakistan. Then there is the rivalry between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, which the drug lords are apparently taking sides in, and allowing the Pakistani Taliban to get smashed, and leave the Afghan Taliban the major Islamic radical group in the region.

September 20, 2009: Sher Mohammad Qasab, a Taliban leader in charge of the “beheading squad”, died of injuries in a Pakistani jail. Qasab was wounded by police gunfire when he was recently captured. Qasab was also responsible for teams that went around destroying schools for girls. He had a $120,000 price on his head.

In eastern India, police commandos concluded several days of operations in which they captured several Maoist bases, and killed over twenty Maoists. There were believed to be over a hundred Maoists in these camps, and most managed to flee. But much material was left behind, including documents and a weapons workshop. So far this year, nearly 600 people have been killed in Maoist related violence (compared to 721 killed for all of last year.) The Maoists are being pushed out of areas they had long dominated. Some have set up bases in neighboring Nepal (which has a Maoist dominated government), and India is trying diplomacy to deal with this problem. Overall, the amount of Maoist related violence is up, as the communist rebels resist government efforts to shut them down. The Maoists tend to be pretty hard core, and will not go easily.

September 19, 2009:  In Kashmir, police arrested seven terrorists, and seized weapons and bomb making equipment. The police had received a tip about where the men were hiding out. It's tips like these, which are increasingly common, that are mainly responsible for the decline in terrorist activity in Kashmir.

September 18, 2009: In Pakistan, 150 kilometers southwest of the capital (on the border of the tribal territories), a suicide car bomb killed nearly 40 people, and wounded many more, when it went off in the middle of a market.

September 16, 2009: In Pakistan, local Christians clashed with police at the funeral of a Pakistani Christian who was arrested and accused of blasphemy against  Islam. Then the police reported that the imprisoned Christian had committed suicide. Local Christians believe the police murdered the accused, to avoid an embarrassing trial.

September 14, 2009: In Karachi, Pakistan, three terrorists wearing women's clothing (burqas) attempted to attack one of the country's largest oil terminals, but were intercepted and chased off when a security guard confronted them. The security man was shot dead.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close