India-Pakistan: The Truce None Dare Speak Of

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October 18, 2010: The political and religious violence death toll in India is about the same as last year. There are three different problems areas; Islamic terrorists in the northwest, tribal separatists in the northeast and communist (Maoist) rebels in the east. These three rebellions will kill about 2,200 people this year, but the pattern of violence is different. Because of a major government offensive, deaths are up a third in the war with the Maoists. Trends so far this year indicate 1,200 or more Maoist related deaths. Increased infiltration from Pakistan has increased deaths in the northwest (Kashmir) by about 12 percent (to an expected 420)  this year. The increases in these two areas has been matched by a sharp drop in the tribal territories of the northeast. The government has negotiated peace deals, or suppressed by force, many of the tribal uprisings in that region.

Pakistan is a much more violent place, about 18 times more violent (on a per-capital basis). With one sixth the population of India, Pakistan suffers three times the deaths each year from terrorism and rebellion. That said, the violence is down about 30 percent from last year, mainly because of the unofficial truce between the army and the Taliban and other Islamic terror groups. It's the truce none dare speak of, on the record at least, especially if you're a Pakistani government official. This refusal by Pakistan to defeat their own Taliban groups, makes it impossible to shut down the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, a lot of the deaths from organized terrorism are not caused by bombs, but bullets. Assassination via pistols or assault rifles is increasingly common. In Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, over 500 people will die this year (based on current trends) from political assassins alone. Karachi contains about 11 percent of the national population.  Nationwide, more people are killed by small arms (mainly pistols) than bombs. But the 335 suicide bombings so far this year are much more newsworthy, even though they kill fewer people than the assassinations (which are targeting, usually, political rivals.) But the political differences are often based on ethnic and religious ones. The million or so Pushtuns who have flocked to Karachi in the past decades, support parties, and criminal gangs, that kill leaders of opposing parties (who retaliate, and so on.)

India's anti-corruption efforts are faltering, and this is becoming a very public failure.. The recent Commonwealth Games, a huge international sporting competition hosted by India, displayed extensive corruption in the construction of the needed facilities. Voters, and the media, are demanding investigations and punishment. But anti-corruption investigators point to the lack of cooperation from guilty government bureaucracies in the past, and indicate not much will come of the current investigations. Too many politicians are either tainted by corruption, or dependent on allies who are. Where does one start when the corruption is so extensive? Even when you have obvious, and massive, looting of the public funds spent on the Commonwealth Games.

The U.S. is unhappy with continued Pakistani refusal to shut down the Taliban and Islamic terrorist operations in their tribal territories. The Pakistanis will only go after terrorists operations that are attacking Pakistani officials. Any terrorist outfit that is concentrating on hitting Afghanistan, India or Western targets is left alone. Pakistan just denies this, and complains about not getting enough money, access to American markets or respect from the United States. Pakistan also expects the U.S. to muscle Indian into giving up Kashmir, an expectation that leaves American diplomats dismayed at how detaches from reality the Pakistani officials are. The U.S. has been unable to get the Pakistanis to admit that their pro-terrorist policy is counterproductive. By leaving the Taliban a refuge in North Waziristan and parts of Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), the terrorist groups will simply move back into the adjacent areas the army recently chased the Taliban out of. Pakistan apparently feels this is preferable to losing the services of terrorist groups who will continue to make attacks in Afghanistan, India and the West. Pakistani officials won't admit this is what their policy amounts to, but it does, and it has made negotiations with the U.S. and India very difficult.

The floods in Pakistan, which began in July, are now over. But the waters did about $10 billion in damage to about 20 million people. About half of these folks are still homeless. Foreign aid continues to come in, and continues to be plundered by rapacious politicians and government officials. At its height, the flood waters hit about a fifth of the territory in Pakistan, and killed at least 2,000. While the Taliban and other Islamic radical groups made a lot of noise about helping out, they didn't. Most of the Islamic terror groups relief efforts were directed at terrorists who were displaced by the floods.

October 16, 2010: In North Waziristan, American UAVs made two missile attacks on terrorist targets and killed at least ten suspected terrorists. The pace of these attacks has increased over the last few months. So far this month there have been 16 attacks, versus 21 for all of September. Although Pakistan has 34,000 troops in North Waziristan (about one soldier for every ten people in the area), the American UAVs are doing the most damage to local terrorists. The Pakistani troops do little besides guarding their supply routes and keeping banditry under control. Terrorists have no problem getting through army roadblocks, although the troops apparently have orders to try and keep foreign (especially from the West) terrorists out. The terrorists and soldiers don't shoot at each other. But the Americans track terrorist activity, and their missiles hit terrorist leaders five or more times a week, at least. The U.S. efforts are particularly directed at terror groups who are training operatives for attacks in the West. Several such operations are believed to have been crippled by killing key people with missiles.

October 15, 2010: Pakistani police report that they foiled a plot by Islamic terrorist group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, to assassinate the prime minister. The police learned of the plot when they interrogated seven terrorists who had been captured after a shootout in central Pakistan two days earlier. While most Islamic terrorist groups go along with the unofficial truce, some do not, and these the government hunts down.

 

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