India-Pakistan: A Little Amnesia Would Help


September 4, 2010:  The campaign against Maoist rebels continues in eastern India. It's a war of larger police patrols into rural areas formerly "controlled" (all government officials driven out or brought under the control of the rebels) by the Maoists. This produces more information about what the Maoists are up to and where their camps are. It also produces ambushes and other types of violence between police and the rebels. This is a slow and nasty business, which also has to install less corrupt government in the areas the Maoists are driven out of. The Maoists got in partly because of the feudal social conditions and corruption found in many rural areas. The police part of the operation may prove easier than the political one.

Many Indian leftists are trying to help the Maoist rebels any way they can. This often takes the form of generating favorable publicity. The easiest way to do this is to accuse the  police, fighting the Maoists, of using excessive force or otherwise mistreating the Maoists. This rings true with many Indians, because the police are sometimes corrupt or brutal. The leftists also play down the Maoists murders, extortions and intimidation.

All Summer, the Pakistani Army has refused to go into North Waziristan, and shut down the last Taliban,  al Qaeda and Islamic terrorist refuge in the country. This has allowed the terrorists to continue planning and carrying out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistani terrorists are increasingly being killed or captured in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, there are a lot of Pakistanis (over 20 percent of the population) who support Islamic terrorism, either as a cure for Pakistan's woes (corruption, mismanagement, the threat of Indian invasion) or in the cause of world Islamic conquest. This provides the terrorists just enough cover and support to keep carrying out attacks in Pakistan, especially in the tribal territories (where support for Islamic radicalism is strongest.)

In the last few days, Pakistani F-16s and helicopter gunships have attacked several Taliban bases near the Afghan border (in the area of the Khyber pass road), killing nearly a hundred people (most of them armed men, the rest family members of the militants).

Several members of Pakistan's national cricket team are accused of cheating (throwing games to allow professional gamblers to make large, and safe, bets). This is a big deal in Pakistan. Just as the (somewhat related) American sport of baseball caught on in East Asia (Japan, Taiwan and South Korea), cricket was adopted, from the British,  in South Asia. The teams of South Asia have come to dominate the sport, and Pakistan and India take great pride in how well their teams compete at the international level. There's nothing like that in baseball (where American teams dominate, except in the youth leagues). But while many Pakistanis are not surprised at how the endemic corruption has reached their beloved national team, it is considered a national shame. In response, many Pakistanis are shifting blame to India which, as the new conspiracy theory goes, somehow set up the corrupted Pakistani players.

Pakistanis are perplexed at how slow the world is to provide aid for victims of the huge floods of the last month. With nearly 2,000 dead and six million homeless, Pakistan is receiving less money than it did for the earthquakes that hit the northern part of the country five years ago. But some Pakistanis remember, and acknowledge that, in the wake of the earthquake relief effort if was found that most of the relief aid was stolen (as much as 70 percent by some estimates) and some of it was diverted to Islamic terrorist groups. The donors have not forgotten, although many Pakistanis would like to. Another factor dissuading many Western donors is the very anti-Western tone of the Pakistani media. The U.S. is a particularly popular target, even though the United States is the largest donor to the flood relief effort. In the last few weeks, for example, the U.S. has moved over 30 helicopters to Pakistan, for relief work. The choppers came from Afghanistan, and an amphibious ship off the Pakistani coast. Meanwhile, Islamic radical groups, especially the Taliban, have threatened to kidnap or kill Western aid workers. Some of the people left homeless by the floods, angered by the lack of government aid, have taken their frustrations out on foreign aid workers struggling to do whatever they can.

The flood damage has been devastating to the economy, causing, by one estimate, losses of over $40 billion (a quarter of last year's GDP, a similar disaster in the U.S. would have to cause $3,700 billion in losses). Pakistan is being offered large loans to recover from the damage, and assistance in spending the money most efficiently. The government has an incentive to do this right. If the aid does not enable the six million displaced to return to their farms, rebuild and replant, there will instead be millions of internal refugees. This kind of population just produces a lot of crime and easy recruiting for terrorists.

September 3, 2010:  In southwest Pakistan (Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province), Sunni Islamic terrorists used a suicide bomber to attack a Shia religious procession, killing over 60 people. Both the Taliban, and an anti-Shia Sunni group took credit for the attack. Sunni-Shia violence (usually Sunni against Shia) has been going on for over a thousand years, but has been particularly intense in Pakistan over the last few decades. Sunni Islamic radicals (like the Taliban and al Qaeda) consider Shia heretics, and in need of killing.

September 1, 2010:  In the Pakistani city of Lahore, Sunni Islamic terrorists used suicide bombers to attack a Shia religious festival, killing over thirty people.  Sunni terrorists consider it particularly propitious to attack Shia during the holy month of Ramadan, which is currently underway.

August 31, 2010:  In eastern India, a state government has refused Maoist demands that eight Maoists be released from prison, in return for four policemen recently captured. The Maoists threaten to kill the policemen otherwise.  

August 29, 2010: China has increased its pressure over disputed territory along the Indian border. The latest incident involves refusing a visa for the visit of an Indian general to China (as part of a military exchange program), because the general had served in Kashmir (which China claims most of). India was outraged, and cancelled visits to India by Chinese generals.

August 28, 2010: In Peshawar, Pakistan (the largest city in the tribal territories), some prisoners got loose in an army jail, and it took eleven hours to recapture them. There was an armed standoff and the prisoners took hostages.  Meanwhile, near the Afghan border, an American UAV fired two missiles and killed four Pakistani Taliban.

August 27, 2010: Judges in Bangladesh ruled that colleges, or businesses, cannot mandate the wearing of religious clothing (skullcaps for men, veils, scarves or burqa for women.) A college had mandated veils for women, and was taken to court over it. Bangladesh, formerly "East Pakistan" never adopted Islamic conservatism as a solution to anything. Pakistan (formerly, before 1971, "West Pakistan") did embrace Islamic conservatism, and radicalism, in the 1970s, and will continue suffering from that decision for years to come.

Police in eastern India killed a Maoist leader, Umakanto Mahato, believed responsible for an attack on the railroads three months ago, that killed 150 people. Meanwhile, an amnesty program in the east India state of West Bengal has brought in a female Maoist leader, who was also unhappy with the sexual harassment she got from other Maoist leaders.

Anti-government violence continues in Kashmir, although the Indian police are having their leadership replaced, in order to get some new ideas into play to deal with the unrest.




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