India-Pakistan: Your Nukes Won't Save You

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June 1, 2012: The U.S. has offered to double the "transit tax" for trucks hauling NATO supplies from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The new fee would be $500 per truck. Pakistan is demanding $5,000 be paid per cargo container or fuel truck. Most of this cash would go into the pockets of senior Pakistani officials. That comes to $14 million a month in bribes. The Pakistanis consider this a good deal because it is costing NATO $38 million a month in additional transportation costs because the Pakistani route has not been available for seven months. American politicians note that the U.S. has been giving Pakistan over $80 million a month in military aid, so the U.S. Congress is increasingly withholding this aid and threatening to cancel it completely if Pakistan does not open the border. The Pakistanis are also aware that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will involve the shipment of over 100,000 containers (and half a billion dollars in loot for Pakistani leaders, not the Pakistani people). So far, NATO and the U.S. refuse to give in to these extortionate demands, which include the U.S. taking the blame for last November's friendly fire incident that left 26 Pakistani soldiers dead. There is a long history of Pakistani troops firing across the border at NATO and Afghan forces. Giving the Pakistanis the apology they demand would be bad for NATO morale, as American and NATO troops are still facing a lack of cooperation from Pakistani forces along the Afghan border. The U.S. Congress has withheld $250 million in aid for Pakistan until NATO truck traffic can again go into Afghanistan. Congress says it will cut more of this aid if the border remains closed.

The U.S. is also angry at continued, and rather open, Pakistani support for Islamic terror groups that carry out attacks in India and the West. Even many Pakistanis are concerned about this because many Pakistanis living in the West are receiving terrorist training in Pakistan. The West has made it clear that if any of these louts managed to carry out a major attack, there would be serious consequences for Pakistan. Every year some of these Pakistani trained terrorists are arrested in the West, where they return and try to carry out attacks. The Pakistani military won't shut down these schools and even many Pakistanis are nervous about this because if a few Pakistani trained terrorists get lucky, Pakistan could find itself blockaded, bombed, or worse. India came close to invading in 2008, after the Mumbai attacks, which were proved to have come from Pakistan. The proof is convincing to everyone but the Pakistan military (which believes its nuclear weapons will protect it from any retaliation, despite Western nations telling them this is not the case).

Pakistan's civilian politicians are also concerned about their military. For the moment the elected government is popular enough to keep the generals from taking over the government again. But the military is working the media, and their political supporters, hard to turn public opinion against the elected officials. The military is trying to convince most voters that American and Indian plots against Pakistan can only be foiled with generals in charge. That has meant decades of corrupt and ineffective military rule in the past but the generals are betting on mass amnesia. This approach sometimes works and not just in Pakistan.

Pakistan (especially the military) continues to insist that American UAVs are forbidden in Pakistani air space. Apparently the U.S. has warned Pakistan that if there is any attempt to interfere with UAV operations, there will be serious consequences for Pakistani warplanes and air defenses (as in extensive destruction of these Pakistani assets). Apparently the Pakistanis take this seriously and have not taken their anti-UAV threats beyond posturing. Many Pakistani generals sense that American anger is growing and U.S. patience is wearing thin. The American UAV attacks seem to be concentrating on foreign terrorists, which is more difficult for the Pakistani generals to turn into anti-American propaganda. Most Pakistanis don't care much for the foreign terrorists either.

The Pakistan generals have allowed some U.S. military trainers back into the tribal territories. These are U.S. Army Special Forces troops and they are wary. It's possible that only a few Special Forces trainers are being allowed in so that Islamic terrorists, allied with the Pakistani military, can try to kidnap the Americans for political and cash ransom.

The Indian counter-offensive against leftist Maoist rebels in the east is having some success. Many Maoist camps have been destroyed, forcing the rebels to scatter and lose control over large areas they used to "tax" (via extortion from businesses) and live off. The Maoists have fallen back on terrorism and are more often using kidnapping for ransom to pay the bills.

India is withdrawing from its joint oil exploration effort with Vietnam in the South China Sea. The official explanation (which may be true) is that the test results so far have not been encouraging. A more widely accepted reason is that Chinese threats against Vietnam (for oil drilling in the South China Sea, all of which is claimed by China) and any "outside powers" that challenge Chinese claims.

Pakistan's has made some real progress in fixing the financial mess the country is usually wallowing in. In the last year tax collections were up an unprecedented 25 percent (while the economy only grew 3.7 percent). Pakistan has always had problems collecting taxes. Only two percent of the population pays taxes, which results in Pakistan only having about ten percent of GDP for government spending. Corruption and tax evasion are still very common, but the current government is trying to fix both problems. Meanwhile, inflation rate has been reduced to 10.8 percent, versus 13.8 percent last year.

The Pakistanis are having a more difficult time reducing religious and anti-women violence. For example, clerics in rural areas still call (often with success) for the death penalty against those accused of religious offenses. The offenses range from blasphemy (often false accusations, used as a weapon against personal enemies) to gender mixing (men and women dancing and singing together at a wedding). The government tries to stop this sort of thing but they are often too late. Most of those killed or maimed are women.

May 31, 2012: In Pakistan (Lahore and Faisalabad) there were riots and demonstrations protesting yet another round of power cuts. The electricity is being shut off for hours at a time, more frequently because the government mismanaged the construction of needed power plants.

May 30, 2012: The U.S. Congress has cut $33 million in aid for Pakistan in response to the conviction of Shakil Afridi. Pakistan recently sentenced a doctor, Shakil Afridi, to 33 years in prison for working with Islamic terrorists. Afridi was originally arrested for working for the CIA in the operation last year that found and killed Osama bin Laden. Afridi's family, and much other evidence, indicates that the case against Afridi was made up and the terrorism charge was a way to punish Afridi without saying it was for helping get bin Laden. The U.S. is trying to get Afridi out of Pakistan while the Pakistani military is trying to discourage other Pakistanis from working with the Americans.

In Indian Kashmir two gunmen fired on an army truck and wounded seven soldiers.

The Indian government has extended its ban on the LTTE for another two years. This is in part because the Indian Maoist rebels issued a new doctrine (how to organize and fight) document three years ago in response to increased government counter-terror activity in areas of heavy Maoist presence and the then recent defeat of the Tamil LTTE rebel movement in Sri Lanka. While not exactly allies, the LTTE and Maoists were in touch. The Maoists were not happy with the way the LTTE was crushed and warned its members to not be over-confident (which is seen as the main reason for the LTTE defeat). The Sri Lankan are ethnically related to the Tamils in Tamil Nadu, a major state in the south. Many Indian Tamils supported the LTTE and want the ban lifted. The LTTE still exists, mostly outside Sri Lanka, and is rebuilding for another rebellion and civil war in Sri Lanka. India would like to avoid this.

May 27, 2012: In Pakistan's North Waziristan a U.S. UAV killed seven Islamic terrorists with a missile.

May 26, 2012: In Pakistan's North Waziristan a U.S. UAV killed four Islamic terrorists with a missile.

In Quetta, Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) a rocket was fired into a market, killing two people and wounded 18. Nearby, another rocket was fired into a Christian neighborhood, wounding three.

In Karachi, Pakistan someone threw a grenade into a shop, killing one person and wounding ten. This was believed related to political strife in the city.

May 24, 2012: In Pakistan's North Waziristan a U.S. UAV killed ten Islamic terrorists with a missile.

 

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