India-Pakistan: This Time Things Will Be Different


March 23, 2011: In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), there is increasing terrorist violence. A growing number of Baluchi tribesmen are turning to violence, often in response to the arrest and murder, by the secret police and military, of suspected tribal rebels. Worse, the Taliban who have long had a sanctuary in Baluchistan, are engaging in terrorist acts against security forces, especially irregulars recruited from the tribes. This violates the unofficial truce between the government and Taliban. So far, the government has ignored these violations, but this becomes more difficult to do as the number of terror victims increases. If you read both Indian and Pakistani media, you will see numerous reports of Indian abuse of arrest and interrogation powers in Kashmir, and Pakistani abuse in Baluchistan (and throughout the tribal territories). Pakistan appears to be ahead in the number of abuse incidents, and has greater violence problems as a result. The monthly casualties from this sort of thing is 5-10 times higher in Pakistan, compared to India (which has six times as many people).

The official Pakistani position (and one popular with most Pakistanis) is that Pakistan is a victim of the Taliban and Islamic radicalism, and should receive more aid from America and the West to help pay for the cost of fighting terrorists. By Pakistani calculation, they have spent at least $43 billion on these operations in the last decade, while receiving only $8.5 billion in aid from the United States. Pakistan accepts little, or no, responsibility for creating the Taliban and sustaining them since the early 1990s. Pakistan also denies its decades of support for Islamic terror organizations (once just dedicated to attacking India, but now attacking anyone who does not support them.) The unofficial, but very real, Pakistani policy is to allow Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan to carry out operations in other countries (mainly Afghanistan and India), otherwise they fear these terrorists will make those attacks inside Pakistan.  Thus the basic problem is Pakistan's unwillingness to admit they have supported terror groups for decades, and that much of that support continues, even as some of these terrorists attack the government. Anyone on the ground can see this support in action, and even some journalists have seen this at work, even though the government, and the terrorists, try to tightly control media access to terrorist controlled areas.

The U.S. regularly calls out the Pakistanis on these fantasies. American commanders in Afghanistan continually issue calls for Pakistan to move on known Taliban and Islamic terrorist bases in North Waziristan. In private meetings between American and Pakistani commanders, the conversation sometimes becomes quite sharp, with the Pakistanis blaming the Americans for all the problems in the area, and the American's demanding that the Pakistanis take responsibility for problems created by Pakistanis. Many Pakistanis buy into the "we are innocent victims" line, which is why the Pakistanis are trying to negotiate yet another peace deal with the Taliban. All previous such deals (and there tends to be one every few years) failed because the Taliban violated the terms. This time, however, the Pakistani officials insist, things will be different.

In the past week, Pakistan has begun intense peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, in anticipation of the withdrawal of NATO and American forces from Afghanistan over the next few years. In order to get these negotiations going, the government reduced aid to anti-Taliban tribes, and their militias. This has angered the these tribes, who have taken losses while fighting the Taliban, and now feel abandoned. But the government sees the Taliban as the major threat. Also, the government wanted the Taliban to agree, as a precondition to the talks, that al Qaeda, and other foreign terror groups, would not be part of any deal. Nothing was said about Pakistani Islamic terror groups, which has upset the U.S. and India.

India is finding that the biggest problem in destroying the Maoist rebel movement is the corruption and government in eastern India that caused the popular discontent that got the Maoist movement started decades ago. Corruption is very difficult to eliminate, so sending in nearly 100,000 additional police to hunt Maoists is much easier than getting rid of corrupt and incompetent officials. That is a political, not a police, problem. The political angle is much more difficult to deal with, given the involvement of local businessmen and other notables, as well as well established political activists. So far, there is lip service to dealing with the causes of the Maoist rebellion, but no real action yet.

March 22, 2011: In Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and port, fifteen people died in several incidents of political violence. This was a particularly bad day for this sort of thing, and the government fears that some of this violence could turn entire neighborhoods into war zones. The warring groups represent political, ethnic or religious loyalties. Some of these animosities go back centuries, and are kept alive as more people move from the countryside (where these feuds are even more intense) to the city. Out in the tribal territories, Pakistani police and troops still have to deal with roadside bombs and gunfire. This sort of thing causes several hundred casualties a week, every week.

March 21, 2011: The Pakistani Army is very embarrassed by public revelations of three generals and a senior civil senior servant accused to stealing over 40 million dollars intended for military logistics. The senior army leadership announced that they backed punishment of the guilty and retrieval of the money. But many doubt either will occur.

For the first time, the Indian Defense Ministry's Annual Report stated officially what everyone has recognized, increasingly, for nearly a decade; that China is the main military threat to India. This was done in the report by detailing Chinese military power, as long was done for traditional foe Pakistan. The Annual Report makes it clear why Pakistan has slipped into second place. This is now an official belief in India.

March 19, 2011: In eastern India, a hundred police raided a Maoist camp and made six arrests, but about thirty Maoists managed to escape.  In Kashmir, a clash with Islamic terrorists left two dead.

March 17, 2011: In Pakistan's North Waziristan, an American UAV strike killed over 30 people, including at least ten Taliban and al Qaeda members, including a senior commander. The usual Pakistani politicians and generals condemned this as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty, and yet another senior terrorist leader threatened attacks on senior Pakistani government officials  if the attacks were not stopped. The Taliban claim they arranged the  meeting to mediate disputes between two tribes. American intelligence believed it was a meeting between the Taliban and leaders of two tribes that supported it. The Taliban and its tribal allies were furious that the Americans discovered the time and location of the meeting, and within a few days four men (including a visiting Afghan) were killed after being accused of spying for the Americans.

March 16, 2011: Raymond Davis, an American intelligence operative arrested by Pakistani police eight weeks ago for killing two men he believed were coming after him, has been released. The U.S. insisted Davis had diplomatic immunity and aid would be halted if Davis was not released. But anti-American feeling was exploited, as always, by local politicians and media, delaying the release. The U.S. compromised by paying a bribe of $2.3 million (termed "compensation" for the families of the two dead men, but it's unclear who actually got the money.)


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