India-Pakistan: How To Be Unpopular and Love It

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December 8, 2009: The Taliban in Pakistan have made a big deal about eliminating non-religious schools Nearly 500 have been destroyed in the last two years. Most of the damage was done in the tribal territories, where the need for education is greatest. In the tribal territories, schools that educate girls are the main target, while outside the tribal areas, all schools are potential targets. This anti-education (except in religious schools, where Islamic radicalism is a primary subject) policy is very unpopular with the general population,  the Taliban don't seem to notice or care. The Taliban believes that they are doing God's will and cannot lose. Meanwhile, polls show that most Pakistanis would rather kill Taliban, than follow them.

The continued decline in Taliban (and Islamic radicals in general) popularity, has made it easier to find and destroy the gangs (or "cells") that plan, prepare and carry out the bombings. These attacks, often using suicide bombers, are the only offensive weapon the Taliban and al Qaeda have. It's mainly a media weapon, dependent on changing public opinion to the benefit of the terrorists. While the attacks scare people, the end result, so far, has been to encourage more people to call the police when they see Taliban or al Qaeda activity. Most of the victims of these attacks are civilians, and the impact on the security forces is minimal.

After weeks of warnings, India blocked service for over 20 million cell phones that did not get a modification needed to include the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification). This is a 15 digit number embedded in the phone, so calls can be traced by police. Chinese firms sell very inexpensive, and basic, phones in India, that lack the IMEI. Now most of the blocked users are flocking to cell phone stores to get their phones upgraded, or replaced. Terrorists and criminals preferred to use phones lacking IMEI, but such phones will no longer work in India.

December 7, 2009:  In India, communist Maoist rebels continue to terrorize rural people who oppose them. Near Bihar, India, a group of fifty armed Maoists entered a village at night and killed two men they had identified as "hostile" to them.

December 6, 2009: In Lahore, Pakistan, two bombs went off in a major market, killing 40 and wounding over a hundred. In Peshawar, the largest city in the tribal territories, another bomb killed eleven.

December 4, 2009: In Rawalpindi, Pakistan, four Taliban gunmen charged into a mosque, frequented by officers from the many military bases in the city, and killed 36 people. The attackers were then killed. For many Taliban, Moslems who do not agree with them, are not really Moslems, and must be killed. Thus the justifications for using assault rifles and grenades on worshipers in a mosque. While this sort of thing goes over well with the hard core Taliban themselves, it enrages most Pakistanis. But there are a small minority of Pakistanis, usually young males in their teens and twenties, who are drawn to this sort of mindless fanaticism. While only a few thousand people throughout the non-tribal populations of India and Pakistan, the Internet enables them to find each other. It also enables the police to find them, and much counter-terror efforts are directed at these enthusiastic amateur terrorists, before they get better, or get lucky.

In northeast India, police arrested the leader of the ULFA, the largest tribal rebel group in the area. The arrested man, Arabinda Rajkhowa, had been arrested in Bangladesh a few days earlier. Indian rebels often establish sanctuaries across the border. But India has been, with increasing success, negotiating deals that result in neighboring countries seeking out and arresting key rebels leaders, and turning them over to Indian police. India often does the same for their neighbors, as many foreign rebel groups hide out in India. This even extends to the United States, where many Pakistani and Indian expatriates live. Some of these migrants are involved with Islamic terrorism, and the American FBI has been sharing such information with Pakistani and Indian intelligence organizations. All three nations were surprised at how many militants they found hiding out in America.

December 2, 2009: In Pakistan's Swat valley, troops cornered a large group of Taliban, and killed at least fifteen of them. Most Taliban are seeking refuge from the army offensive, and the weather (it's below freezing in the mountains of the tribal territories, and adjacent areas like Swat and Kashmir.) Pakistani air power, and cold night weather, make it difficult for the fleeing Taliban to fight back against the security forces. This will change when Spring, and warmer weather, arrives. But for the next few months, it's going to be hard times for the Pakistani Taliban.

December 1, 2009: In Islamabad, Pakistan, a teenage suicide bomber was stopped while trying to enter a military complex. He detonated his bomb and 11 people died (six of them civilians).

 

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