In its continuing effort to get Pakistan to quit supporting Islamic terrorism the U.S. has gone public with more and more evidence of the corruption and double-dealing in Pakistan that supports terrorism. One of the latest problem areas to be highlighted is the connection between the Pakistani Army and ISI (military controlled intelligence agency) and large criminal gangs. These gangs are an essential part of the organized crime activities used by terrorists groups (especially the Haqqani Network and Pakistani Taliban) to support their terrorism. Speaking openly about this stuff in Pakistan can be fatal but American officials can do so with a greater sense of security. These terrorist groups are deeply into drug smuggling, extortion, theft, and kidnapping. Since the cops and military are being paid for their participation, and troublesome journalists silenced, there is nothing to stop this sort of thing. So far, publicity generated by foreigners has had little impact inside Pakistan.
The three year old Indian campaign against Maoists in the eastern states is making progress. In many rural areas where the Maoists were long in control, the leftists are much weaker on the ground. The government sent 80,000 special police into these areas (including over 70 paramilitary police battalions). The years of patrols by these police (who are operating as infantry and police) has reassured the locals to the point where more people are reporting Maoist movements and locations. This leads to more raids on Maoist camps and fewer armed Maoists to contest the police and intimidate civilians. The information gained from Maoist camps and prisoners has led to the identification and capture of more Maoist leaders (who often hide in plain sight in cities and towns). The Indian Air Force is sending some new Mi-17 helicopters equipped to operate at night. This will provide the police with yet another advantage over the Maoists, who will now lose sleep over the threat of night raids. The air force has been providing six helicopters that can operate only during the day. The air force helicopters are armed but only fire back if fired on. The helicopters are there for moving police and casualties.
October 9, 2012: In Pakistan's Swat Valley a 14 year old girl (Malala Yousufzai) was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. Two other girls on her school bus were wounded. Yousufzai has been famous in Pakistan for the last three years by opposing Taliban efforts to prevent girls from going to school. She began by writing an anonymous blog about her experiences trying to get an education despite Taliban opposition. Eventually she went public and the Taliban threatened retaliation but few thought the terrorists would attack an individual teenage girl (many teenage girls have been killed by Taliban bombs). Yousufzai survived the shooting but is still in a coma. The Taliban initially took credit for the shooting, which caused an anti-Taliban uproar throughout the country. Since then the Taliban and other Islamic radical groups have backed away from this approval. The government offered a $100,000 reward for the capture of the shooter and this apparently worked, as the government now says it knows who the attackers were. Conservative Islamic clerics who usually approve of the Taliban policy on education for women have been silent about this incident.
The Swat Valley has been a battleground between the army and the Taliban for years. The Pakistani Taliban claims to have regained control of much of the tribal territories, including the Swat Valley
(right outside the tribal territories). This is propaganda, not reality. The Pakistani Taliban still have armed men in many parts of the tribal territories, often operating from bases across the border in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban are still very much at war with Pakistan and are loudly striving to "avenge" the death of Osama bin Laden and other foreign terrorists who had come to help the Pakistani Taliban. Attacks, like those against
Malala Yousufzai, are supposed to remind everyone that the Taliban are still around.
The Taliban took control of the Swat Valley for two years in 2007, and were then driven out by the army. But there remained a lot of hostility towards the government. It's all about corruption and lack of a rule of law. The Taliban got in partly on the promise of driving out corrupt government officials and providing fair Islamic courts. The Taliban then destroyed their popularity by also trying to impose unpopular lifestyle rules (no schools or jobs for women and no video, music, or shaving for men). The government brought back the corruption, despite knowing this was a major problem. This has driven some Swat Valley residents to support the Taliban again. But those supporters were appalled by the shooting of
October 8, 2012: Islamic political parties in Pakistan have forced the government to block over 20,000 websites, including YouTube, for displaying material considered critical of Islam. Over the last month the pro-Islamic parties organized dozens of demonstrations to protest, often violently, an American film accused of being anti-Islam. These demonstrations are part of an effort by the Islamic parties to establish themselves as censors for all Pakistanis.
In the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta a bicycle bomb went off (via remote control) at a checkpoint, killing one person and wounding 11 others.
October 5, 2012: In Karachi, Pakistan police arrested seven Islamic terrorists who were preparing to carry out a series of suicide attacks against school buses and prisons in the city.
October 4, 2012: For the first time the U.S. has refused, as American law requires, to certify that Pakistan is taking effective action against Islamic terrorism. This is a condition for receiving billions of dollars in military aid. While Pakistan has made some efforts against Islamic terrorists since 2002, it has continued to provide sanctuary and support for some terror groups. Despite the U.S. officially recognizing this support by not certifying Pakistani cooperation, the U.S. State Department requested a waiver because the billions (essentially a bribe at this point) paid were “important to the national security interests of the United States.” Pakistan will receive $2 billion and more pressure from the United States to shut down terrorist sanctuaries in North Waziristan and Quetta and to stop using Islamic terrorists to launch attacks against India and Pakistan.
October 3, 2012: Pakistani and Afghan generals met to discuss persistent Pakistani artillery fire into Afghanistan. Pakistan had denied this but now admitted it and said it was only returning fire after its troops had been hit by rockets and mortar shells fired by Pakistani Taliban seeking refuge in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis insisted that they were not firing blindly but at areas where they were certain the Pakistani Taliban were. The Afghans pointed out that there have been Afghan civilian casualties. The discussions continue and Afghan military leaders threaten retaliation.
October 2, 2012: Army units in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) have surrounded a village in an effort to capture or kill armed separatist tribesmen. There have been several dozen casualties, most of them civilians. It is feared that the troops are indiscriminately killing civilians. The army gets a lot of criticism for this sort of thing, from Pakistanis as well as the United States. The army promises to investigate but nothing ever comes of that.
In eastern India (Chhattisgarh State) some Maoists are trying to intimidate police into halting frequent patrols and free some Maoist leaders who were captured. The Maoists are blocking many roads (by felling trees across them or digging pits in them). Truckers are threatened and commerce is suffering. The police would not back down.