India-Pakistan: Finding The Will


February 12, 2010:  The United States is expanding its current training effort in Pakistan. The two training centers will be expanded to include several smaller centers, closer to the Afghan border. This would increase the number of American troops (currently about a hundred Special Forces) a bit. Most of the training is for the 9,000 members of the Frontier Corps, the locally recruited force in the tribal territories that guards the border, and enforces government orders. There is usually little of the latter, because the tribal territories are allowed to manage their own affairs. This has been the law since Pakistan was founded in 1947, although the government rules in the major urban areas, and cannot be ignored because police control the roads into the tribal territories (which are dependent on all manner of manufactured goods that their ancestors did without.) Special counter-terror commando units are also trained.

Pakistani tribal leaders in Waziristan insist pro-Taliban warlords be consulted as part of any peace deal. This recognizes that these Taliban leaders have a large armed following, including many men who believe the "mission-from-God" angle and are not inclined to go along with any deal tribal leaders worked out. The government has to decide if it wants to fight the hard core Taliban to the death. In the past, the government has been inclined to back off on a fight to the finish, thus allowing Islamic radicals to rebuild their strength and resume another cycle of rebellion and violence. The U.S. is pressuring the Pakistani government to finish the Taliban and break the cycle.

February 11, 2010: Islamic militants in Pakistans' Bajaur Agency (a 1,300 square kilometer area along the Afghan border) have been given ten days to surrender, or be hunted down and killed or captured. The 600,000 people in Bajaur have largely united against the militants, and tribal leaders arranged for the army to hold off for ten days, so that the few hundred remaining militants could be persuaded to surrender. Some will never be surrender, and will likely flee the area.

In the Pakistani city of Bannu (in the tribal territories, next to Waziristan) two suicide bombers attacked a police center, killing nine police and seven civilians. A few days earlier, Taliban has blown up a girls school in the same area. The Taliban are much fewer in number after a year of fighting, but those still in action are concentrating on terror attacks. If the attacks can be made in high profile areas, to attract maximum media attention.

The Indian campaign against Maoist rebels (whose violence long killed about 600 people a year, but has now risen to over 1,000), is pushing the Maoists back. But the communist rebels have settled into rural areas in about a third of the country. All these Maoists are local, and the government has a special force of 75,000 soldiers and police going into one area after another to do some serious damage to the Maoists. It's uncertain if the government can collect sufficient intelligence, money or will to keep this counter-terror force going for the several years it will take to do serious damage to the Maoist movement. The Maoists are fighting back by making more attacks on strategic targets, like railroads, communications and utilities (particularly electricity.)

February 6, 2010: In eastern Punjab, Pakistan, clan fighting, over land ownership, left fifteen dead. This feud has killed at least fifty people in the last five years. Such feuds are not uncommon, and the police and courts spend a lot of their time trying to keep these disputes from turning fatal. In Bajaur, Pakistan, soldiers captured the last Taliban base, a series of training sites and safe houses in an area called Damadola.

In India, along the Orissa-Jharkhand state borders, police found and destroyed two Maoist camps.




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