In eastern India security officials believe they have weakened the Maoists to the point where the communist rebels are largely a bandit (stealing and extorting to survive) and guerilla (terrorist type attacks) threat. It’s become much more difficult, and risky, for the Maoists to assemble a hundred or more gunmen for a major attack. This assessment may be too optimistic but the Maoists have definitely lost control of many rural areas where, for years, they were the law. In the process the Maoists had dozens of camps deep in the bush destroyed, along with bomb workshops and weapons storage sites. As a result rural people are more willing to provide tips, and Maoist attempts to terrorize locals into silence have backfired. With more paramilitary police battalions around, villagers feel more confident in fighting off Maoist tax (extortion) collectors and enforcers. There are now many rural villages where the Maoist used to be free to do what they wanted but now cannot go near unless they want to take casualties.
In southwest Pakistan a roadside bomb destroyed two busses carrying Shia Moslems, killing 19 and wounding 25. The two busses had an armed escort but the bomb was remotely controlled to avoid the escort and hit the busses. Sunni Moslem Islamic terrorists have been killing Shia (whom they consider heretics) in Pakistan for decades.
December 29, 2012: In the Pakistani city of Karachi a bomb went off in a bus, killing six and wounding 48.
December 28, 2012: In eastern India (Jharkhand state) movement was disrupted as the Maoists staged one of their strikes against transport (roads and railways). While the Maoists are less and less capable of enforcing these threats (by shooting at trains and vehicles and destroying tracks, tunnels, and bridges), there is enough risk to travelers to keep the roads and railway stations nearly empty during these events.
In rural Kashmir Indian troops, acting on a tip, cornered and killed five Islamic terrorists. Two soldiers were wounded.
Pakistan has restored access to YouTube, largely because since blocking this service last September (to keep out blasphemous and immoral videos) there has been a growing public backlash, but they then blocked it again minutes later when it became known that forbidden material was still available. The government says it is installing filtering software that will keep out inappropriate material. While there are only about 2.1 million Internet subscribers in Pakistan and less than 20 percent of the population has any access, those who do tend to be in families of the ruling class and their key supporters. The kids are not alright without their YouTube.
December 27, 2012: The Pakistani Taliban have responded to calls for a ceasefire with demands that Pakistan adopt Islamic law and reinvigorate its terrorism campaign against India. The government refuses to meet either of these demands, although it still tolerates terrorist training camps across the border from Indian Kashmir. Pakistan knows from experience that peace deals with groups like the Taliban do not work because the Islamic radicals are on a Mission From God and feel compelled by instructions laid down in holy scripture to lie and deceive if that will advance and spread the cause of imposing old-school Islam on everyone. The Pakistani Taliban also refuse to disarm as a precondition to peace talks. Despite this, Pakistan is supporting efforts in Afghanistan to make peace with the Taliban there. The Afghan politicians are more optimistic, largely because many senior officials are from the same tribes as many of the Taliban. This is not the case in Pakistan, where the government is run by lowlanders from Punjab and Sind province while the tribal peoples are regarded with suspicion and fear. It’s been that way for thousands of years. In Afghanistan the tribesmen run the country, and that makes a big difference.
In northwest Pakistan Taliban gunmen attacked two police outposts, killing two policemen and capturing 22. One of these policemen escaped but the other 21 were murdered two days later and their bodies found on the 30th. The police were locally hired men, and attacks like this are meant to intimidate the local police into leaving the Taliban alone, despite orders to the contrary. This often works, and when it doesn’t a bunch of policemen get killed.
December 26, 2012: Indian Army commanders have finally decided to catch up with Pakistan and China and equip most of its tanks with night-vision equipment.
December 23, 2012: In the Pakistani city of Karachi, Islamic terrorists threw two grenades at the entrance to a police compound, wounding seven people.
December 22, 2012: In Pakistan, on the Iranian border, 11 illegal migrants were killed when their three vehicles tried to dash past frontier guards into Iran. Elsewhere in the tribal territories (the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province), a Taliban bomb killed nine and wounded 20 at a political rally. A senior provincial politician was among the dead and was the main target of the attack.
December 21, 2012: The U.S. revealed that Pakistan did actually carry out a number of joint operations with NATO and Afghan forces along the common border in the past year. The area of operations involved Nuristan, Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktiya, Khost, and Paktika provinces in Afghanistan and Chitral, Bajaur Agency, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurrum, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal territories. Not many more details were given, but the main goal of all this was to prevent Islamic terror groups to escape pursuit by simply crossing the border. Such cooperative operations have occurred before but only after considerable negotiation and demands for more money (in effect bribes) from the Pakistani military.
December 19, 2012: The U.S. has agreed to pay $688 million to the Pakistan military after withholding this money for six months. Back in July the U.S. revealed that a large chunk (over a fifth) of the $20 billion the U.S. has given to Pakistan since September 11, 2001 had been stolen. At that point the U.S. said it was holding back nearly a billion dollars in aid. The $800 million being withheld was largely for "reimbursements" for what the Pakistani military has spent to fight terror groups for six months in late 2011. Audits have revealed that the disbursements are where much of the theft takes place. Holding back this money was meant to do the least harm to the Pakistani military effort (such as it is) and the most damage to the corrupt officers who steal American aid. Pakistani politicians are already upset that the $3 billion in American aid for the next year is mainly going to the military and comes with strings (cut corruption and tax the rich, who often pay nothing at all). The U.S. is the largest aid donor but all this pressure to attack Islamic radicals and stop diverting aid to private use is annoying Pakistani officials. Ironically, when accused of corruption Pakistanis react by denouncing Americans for attacking Pakistani honor. For most of the past year the U.S. and Pakistan have been quietly negotiating about how much the U.S. will allow to be stolen, in return for how much effort Pakistani will actually, or pretend, to make against Islamic terror groups.
In eastern India (Bihar state) police battalions completed a two day search operation (acting on tips) and seized nearly a hundred bombs of various types and bomb making materials (including over 100 kg/220 pounds) of explosives.
For the second time in the last three months, Islamic terrorists have attacked Pakistani medical teams that were vaccinating children against polio. This time the terrorists killed nine health workers in the past three days. The UN provides cash and specialists for these vaccination programs but most of the work is done by locally recruited people (usually young women when it is children to be vaccinated). The UN had warned Pakistan that unless there were security guarantees for its medical personnel, the polio vaccination program in dangerous areas would not be resumed. The UN did withdraw its personnel in response to these latest attacks. But the government provided police escorts after a few days and vaccination teams went back to work in dangerous areas. Thousands of children have not been vaccinated because Islamic militants have been attacking the medical personnel this year. A dozen of these medical workers have been killed this year. Usually the attacks are in the tribal territories but some of the latest killings were outside the territories. In several countries (especially Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) Islamic radicals believe polio vaccinations are part of a secret Western plan to harm Moslem children so they attack the vaccination teams.