India-Pakistan: Death Squads Versus Democracy

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April 14, 2013: Pakistan is not making much progress in eliminating Islamic terrorism. A significant minority (20-30 percent) of Pakistanis still supports Islamic terrorism and the terror groups have no problem gaining new recruits. A larger fraction of Pakistanis oppose Islamic terrorism. The problem is that the Islamic terrorists are willing to die for their beliefs, while most of those who oppose Islamic terrorism just want to get on with their lives. Faced with this, most Pakistanis try to stay out of the way of all the violence or, if they can afford to, immigrate. Meanwhile the economy is a mess, corruption is rampant, and terrorists continue to slaughter Pakistanis regularly. Karachi is becoming particularly dangerous and out-of-control as the Taliban and other Islamic terror groups increase their presence in the nation’s largest city.

Pakistan actually has several terrorism problems. The Taliban are mainly a Pushtun tribal movement, while the Islamic terror groups that have a more international outlook (especially for attacking India) are recruited outside the tribal territories. The best example of this is LeT (Lashkar e Taiba), which is very popular among middle and upper class high school and college students. Also largely recruited outside the tribal territories are several Islamic terrorist groups who concentrate on attacking religious groups (Moslem and non-Moslem) they do not agree with. These have been a problem for decades, while the internationalist groups developed in the 1980s, with Pakistani government backing. In the 1990s the government also created the Afghan Taliban, which eventually spawned a Pakistani branch that seeks to turn Pakistan into a religious dictatorship. Most Pakistanis are opposed to this. The Pakistani government officially denies, as much as possible, that a lot of these terrorists exist and will not accept any responsibility for creating or sustaining them. Unofficially, many members of the military and intelligence agencies are quite openly backing one terrorist group or another.

Former (since 2008) Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf recently admitted what had long been an open secret, that Pakistan made a deal with the United States nine years ago to secretly allow CIA UAVs to find Islamic terrorists and kill them with missiles. The understanding was that this would include terrorists who were only attacking foreigners as well as those making attacks inside Pakistan. The Pakistani government always denied that there was any such deal, but few Pakistanis believed them.  

April 12, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) a bomb went off in a bus, killing eight people.

China and India held their annual counter-terrorism cooperation meetings. The two nations agreed to continue joint efforts to deal with terrorism coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The latter is a bit of an embarrassment for China, which is a close ally and trading partner with Pakistan. But the fact that Pakistan has long been a terrorist sanctuary cannot be ignored, and China is blunt with Pakistan on this issue. These annual conferences have been held since 2002, and this year a major item was the withdrawal of most NATO forces from Afghanistan.

In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) police have been unable to halt the Sunni Islamic terrorist attacks on local Shia Moslems. This has enraged the Shia population, who accuse the security forces of supporting, or at least being sympathetic to, the Sunni radicals.

April 11, 2013: In Pakistan (Sindh province) a Taliban assassin murdered an anti-Taliban politician who was running for parliament. The Taliban makes it very clear that politicians, journalists, and anyone else who oppose openly them can expect similar treatment. As they are on a Mission From God, the Taliban believe this is the correct way to handle such blasphemous criticism.

In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) troops moved against Taliban gunmen on the high ground surrounding the Tirah Valley. One soldier and 15 terrorists died.

April 10, 2013: In Pakistan (near the Khyber Pass) Islamic terrorists killed a policeman who was protecting a polio vaccination team and wounded another. There was a similar attack in the same area last February. The UN provides cash and specialists for these vaccination programs and has warned Pakistan that unless there was better security for its medical personnel (recruited locally), the polio vaccination program in dangerous areas would be halted. So Pakistan has provided police escorts, which seem to be working as none of the vaccination team members were hurt in these two attacks. Nevertheless, thousands of Pakistani children have not been vaccinated because Islamic militants have been attacking the medical personnel in the last year, killing at least a dozen medical personnel and police escorts. Usually the attacks are in the tribal territories, but some of the 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. Polio can only survive in a human host and infected Pakistanis sometimes travel to other countries and spread the disease.

April 9, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) troops completed a four day operation against Taliban gunmen in the Tirah Valley. At least 110 terrorists were killed, along with 30 soldiers. The army has been trying to clear out the Taliban from this border area since 2009, but have been unable to keep the Taliban from returning. When pressed hard enough, the Taliban retreat across the border into camps and villages in Afghanistan. They are sometimes attacked there, but because the Pakistani Taliban are not attacking anyone in Afghanistan, the local security forces concentrate on those who do (mainly the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, which is based in North Waziristan, an official terrorist sanctuary the Pakistani government refuses to shut down).

In India Kashmir soldiers, acting on a tip, found a terrorist cache, containing six AK-47s, ammo, bomb making materials, and other equipment. Apparently there other cashes in the rural area being searched as the operations continued.

April 8, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) four rockets landed near the airport. This was believed to be another Taliban attempt to shut down the airport of the largest city in the tribal territories.

April 6, 2013: In eastern India (Bihar state) Maoists blew up a section of railroad track, which delayed traffic for several hours. This was part of a two day Maoist effort to shut commerce in parts of Bihar. These general strikes are a nuisance and do little for Maoist popularity.

In Pakistan (Karachi) a series of raids found several Taliban hideouts and killed a known Taliban leader. Police arrested 24 other gangsters or terrorists.

April 5, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) troops moved in to try and halt fighting between Islamic terrorists (mainly the Taliban) and local pro-government tribesmen. This low level violence has been going on for several weeks and the pro-government tribes asked for some help. The weeks of violence have forced over 40,000 people to flee their homes. This is all believed part of a Taliban effort to influence the May 11 national (parliament) elections.

April 4, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Kurram) Pakistani Taliban based in Afghanistan fired at a Pakistani border post, wounding two Pakistani soldiers.

 

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