India-Pakistan: Not Worth Dying For


March 6, 2010: The Indian government admits that it could take up to ten years to crush the Maoist rebels. While there are only about 10,000 armed Maoists, they have established themselves as the de-facto government in rural areas where there was a lot of bad government (like feudal practices) and corruption. The Maoists fight the feudal practices, expel the corrupt officials, and fund themselves with extortion (from businesses in the area.) So the problem is not just going after the armed Maoists, but rebuilding government staff and services in the area, and dealing with economic and social problems that made the Maoists an acceptable alternative to the government. Thus the government is finding that capturing and killing Maoists, which police are increasingly successful at, will not, in itself, bring victory against the leftist rebels.

The Indian Maoists also have a plan, and expect to take over all of India in 40 years. Actually, they've had that kind of long range plan for several decades, and the true believers are not dismayed by recent setbacks. Meanwhile, corruption, low pay and increased danger have caused recruiting problems with the Indian police to persist. Some twenty percent of Indian police jobs are unfilled as a result. It's worse in areas where Maoists, or other terrorists, operate. To most Indians, being a cop is not a job worth dying for.

Pakistan is receiving a thousand smart bomb (laser guidance) kits (700 for 500 pound bombs, and the rest for 2,000 pound bombs). The Pakistanis already have American Sniper targeting pods for their F-16 fighters, and have been using GPS and laser guided bombs from these aircraft. GPS guidance will land the bomb within 10 meters of the aiming point, while laser guidance come within three meters. With the smaller 500 pound bombs (which contain only about 110 kg of explosives), and laser guidance, the Pakistanis can destroy individual buildings in rural compounds or villages, and greatly limit civilian casualties.

Afghanistan is accusing a Pakistan based terrorist group (Lashkar-i-Taiba) of carrying out a recent terror attacks in Kabul, that killed Indians, and other foreigners. Lashkar-i-Taiba has long been associated with violence in Kashmir, and other parts of India. Because of the Kashmir connection, the Pakistani government has been reluctant to cooperate on going after Lashkar-i-Taiba.

Pakistani military commanders believe that about a quarter of the Pakistani Taliban (as many as ten thousand gunmen) along the border  have fled into Afghanistan. About a quarter were killed or captured, and the rest went back to being civilians (and might get arrested later on for past crimes), or are still armed and looking for a fight.

March 3, 2010:  Indian police in West Bengal arrested Maoist leader, Venkateswar Reddy, who was responsible for an attack last month that left 25 policemen dead. In Pakistan's tribal territories, over a hundred Taliban attacked a border post. The attackers were repulsed, losing at least 30 dead. Two soldiers were killed and six wounded. The Frontier Corps troops defending their base were aided by distant artillery fire, and helicopter gunships that raced to the scene. This is a familiar pattern, and something the tribal warriors have not figured out how to deal with yet. The local Taliban, reeling from the loss of several major bases (including a large underground complex in Bajaur, near where the Taliban attack was defeated), needed a victory, but got another embarrassing defeat. The Bajaur underground complex was actually an al Qaeda base, but Taliban forces, especially leaders, had access. When the underground complex was taken, many documents (paper and electronic) were captured, giving details of how the Islamic radicals have operated in the border region.

March 1, 2010:  Near Pakistan's Khyber pass police found and rescued two Sikhs (non-Moslems) who had been kidnapped for ransom last month. Several Islamic terrorists were killed during the rescue. Three Sikhs were kidnapped ;ast month, but one was killed and beheaded by the kidnappers, to speed up ransom negotiations. Skikhs are a small, successful, religious minority in India, and some remained in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. There, they often ran successful businesses, but always faced resentment and harassment from some Islamic radicals.

February 28, 2010: Bangladeshi and Indian border guards are at it again, having exchanged fire four times in the last month. There has long been tension on this border, and a constant flow of smugglers, Islamic terrorists and illegal immigrants. The border guards are known to be trigger happy at times. This usually begins when border guards fire on illegal line crossers (smugglers, poachers, illegal migrants), and border guards on the other side fire back. There are rarely casualties, just a lot of noise, and a subsequent meeting to discuss the incident and agree that it was no big deal.

Last year, the Bangladeshi government identified 33 Islamic radical organizations, but only banned four of them. The government hoped to get most of these groups to back off from terrorist acts. It was believed that banning the groups gives the more extreme radicals an opportunity to persuade followers to commit violent acts. This "hands off" approach does not always work, and police are arresting more and more people who are planning attacks (usually in India), recruiting and raising money for the cause. More Islamic radicals from Pakistan and India are ending up in Bangladesh, where the police will leave Islamic terrorists alone as long as the radicals do no violence in Bangladesh, and are discreet (don't get identified) if they do something overseas (usually in India.) The Indians have been tracing more and more Islamic terrorism back to Bangladesh. When this happens, the Bangladeshi police will take action. Arrests are made, although local authorities will not round up as many suspects as the Indians would like. This is because Islamic conservatives are a large minority in the country, and can become violent if too many Islamic radicals (who are not obviously guilty of terrorist acts) are arrested.

This situation is worse in Pakistan, which, unlike Bangladesh, has a high profile territorial dispute (Kashmir) with India. For over three decades, the Pakistani government has praised Islamic terrorists who attacked India in the name of regaining Kashmir. This campaign has failed, but the Islamic terrorists have become folk heroes. Pakistan has cracked down on Islamic terrorists who are not involved with Kashmir, but fears the backlash if the Kashmir oriented radicals are rounded up and prosecuted. India has identified 42 terrorist camps in Pakistan, and demands that they be shut down, and a long list of known (to India) terrorists be arrested. But Pakistan is not yet ready to grapple with the Kashmiri terrorism monster it created and unleashed. Not yet, but eventually. Otherwise there will never be peace between the two countries.




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