India-Pakistan: Tribal Suicide


October 13, 2009: Recent bold Taliban attacks in Pakistan have motivated the army to carry out their invasion of Waziristan, and use force to put down the Taliban. For the Taliban, this is a death sentence, although most of the tribesmen who support the Taliban don't see it that way. The tribal fighters still believe they are superior, in a fight, to the lowlanders from Punjab and Sind (where 80 percent of Pakistanis live). But the reality is that, while the tribal warriors are more fierce and aggressive, they have lost their edge to air power and modern military technology. Pakistani helicopters and bombers, plus American UAVs, have made the tribal fighters very vulnerable. While lots of Pakistani troops will die as tribesmen use their traditional ambushes and fierce attacks, more tribesmen will die in air and artillery attacks.

For the tribes, it's the beginning of the end of their rule in the mountains. For thousands of years, the tribesmen were protected by their fierceness and poverty. It was just not worth the effort for outsiders to conquer them. But now, Islamic terror throughout Pakistan has made it worthwhile to remind the tribes that they could be conquered. And it was the Taliban and al Qaeda that gave the outsiders the incentive to come in and increase the already high poverty and death rates among the Pushtuns.

In Pakistan, the military has publicly objected to $7.5 billion in new American military aid being subject to the monitoring of how the Pakistani generals used it. The U.S. also demands that the Pakistani government have ultimate control of their military. In the West, the military accepts this level of control, but it is alien to Pakistan, where the military has been very independent (and has run the country as a military dictatorship half the time since Pakistan was created in 1947). Over seven billion dollars in earlier U.S. aid was found to have been diverted or stolen by the generals. Much of the money that was to have been spent on counter-terrorism, went to other uses (like upgrading troops meant to fight India in another major war). The Pakistani generals are getting backing from politicians, by portraying the U.S. terms as an assault on Pakistani honor and sovereignty. This puts politicians under popular pressure to oppose the American conditions. This could threaten the U.S. aid, because most Americans are fed up with the theft and diversion of military aid.

Fighting has increased in the Swat valley, and surrounding areas, as the Taliban remnants are chased down and killed (by the army and local tribal militias). There are dozens of casualties a day, mostly Taliban.

India has ordered its security forces to destroy the Maoist rebel movement in the eastern part of the country. The Maoists have been around for several decades. While never a large problem they have spread to over a third of the country, where they are usually a low-grade nuisance. The rural police are not numerous enough, or equipped, to deal with armed Maoists in their area. So India is greatly increasing police and paramilitary forces available for operations against the Maoists.

October 12, 2009: In Pakistan, police have arrested over twenty people connected with those who staged a raid on army headquarters. That operation, in Rawalpindi, apparently meant to capture the head of the army, and other senior generals, and use this to persuade the army to withdraw from the tribal territories, and let the Taliban run things there.

In the Swat valley, a Taliban suicide bomber killed over fifty people (mostly civilians). Army and air force attacks in Waziristan left about twenty Taliban dead. Meanwhile, is was announced that provincial police knew of plans to attack army headquarters in Rawalpindi, but the army was not kept informed of the plot.

In eastern India, thousands of Maoist rebels showed themselves briefly, in an attempt to enforce a general strike in five states. Some damage was done to railroad and police facilities. This strike was a protest against increased anti-Maoist operations by government forces.

October 11, 2009: The military stepped up artillery and bombing attacks on Taliban targets in Waziristan. Elsewhere in the area, police raided Taliban bases and arrested 29 suspects. In Peshawar, over 120 Taliban suspects were arrested, most of them Afghans who did not have permission to be in Pakistan. The Pakistani army announced that it would soon move into Waziristan and attack the strongholds of the Taliban leaders. This would force the Taliban leadership to stand and fight (and likely get killed or captured), or flee, as Winter sets in, and be pursued by the security forces.

October 10, 2009: In the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, ten Taliban, dressed as soldiers, shot their way into main army base (containing army headquarters). Six soldiers were killed trying to defend the main gate of the camp, and the Taliban took control of a building on the base, and held several dozen soldiers and civilians hostage. The building was quickly surrounded by troops and commandos, and the next day the building was attacked, freeing the 39 hostages and killing four of the Taliban. A total of 19 died in two days, but the Taliban leader of the attack force was captured. Several of the Taliban were wearing explosive vests, but did not get a chance to set them off.

Acting on a tip, police arrested a senior Maoist rebel leader in eastern India. This enraged the local Maoists, who expect their leaders to be left alone.

October 9, 2009: A suicide car bomb went off in a crowded market in Peshawar, the largest city in the Pakistani tribal territories. Meanwhile, Britain is building a training camp, in southwest Pakistan, to put 360 Frontier Corps troops, at a time, through a 12 week training course. The Frontier Corps are local tribesmen recruited into a paramilitary force that guards the border and helps maintain peace among the tribes. But these troops often get little or no military training, but are instead run like a tribal militia in uniform. Britain will have 24 trainers working at this camp.

Outside Peshawar, armed men raided a truck depot and destroyed or looted half a dozen trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

October 8, 2009: In eastern India, Maoists rebels ambushed 40 police, out on a training exercise in eastern India, and killed 17 of them. The army and police were mobilized to hunt down the killers.

October 7, 2009: Five Islamic terrorists were killed in Indian Kashmir, in separate incidents. One of the dead was a terrorist who was imprisoned in the 1990s, served his time, got out, and rejoined a terror group.




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