India-Pakistan: Taliban Plead For Mercy

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March 4, 2014: The Pakistani Taliban have called for a ceasefire to halt daily air strikes that have (since February 19 th ) caused them several hundred casualties and the loss of many buildings and lots of vehicles, equipment and weapons. Over a hundred Taliban have been killed by the F-16s and helicopter gunships employed. The army recently revealed that over a hundred soldiers had been killed in the tribal territories since September 2013. The government is going through the motions of recognizing this Taliban ceasefire but are not allowed (by the media and the military) to ignore the fact that the Taliban have always broken ceasefires and peace agreements. In the seven years of Taliban insurrection the Islamic terrorists have only agreed to ceasefires or peace deals when faced with major military operations. There are currently nearly 200,000 troops in the Pakistani tribal territories, and over 40,000 surrounding North Waziristan. This is an area of 4,700 square kilometers, with 365,000 people that is the only sanctuary Islamic terrorist groups like the Taliban and Haqqani Network have in the tribal territories. North Waziristan has been surrounded since late 2009, but until recently Pakistani generals refused to go in and shut down this terrorist refuge. Politicians have been under growing pressure from the West, especially the United States to do something about the continued terror attacks by what the Pakistanis call "bad Taliban". These are mostly Pakistani Taliban who wants to establish a religious dictatorship in Pakistan and some of them have been increasingly active attacking other Pakistanis. This has caused a shift in public opinion against the Taliban, although there is still a lot of support for Islamic terrorists who only attack India, Afghanistan or Western nations.

The Afghan Taliban, who wants to establish a similar government in Afghanistan are considered "good Taliban" along with the minority of Pakistani Taliban who don't want to overthrow the government. In the last four years, the Pakistani Taliban have also caused over a thousand of casualties among pro-government tribesmen throughout the tribal territories. It's no secret that the army hires tribesmen and puts them in dangerous situations to minimize army casualties. The army cannot afford to lose the support of the loyal tribes up there. All this has put pressure on the army to eliminate the refuge the killers can flee to in North Waziristan.  Several times, because of the demands of Pakistani and American politicians, the Pakistani generals have said they will consider advancing into North Waziristan. But it hasn't happened yet. Despite that, in the last week the generals have openly talked about actually going in on the ground and eliminating the North Waziristan Islamic terrorist sanctuary. The Pakistani military has explicitly declared that it would not attack its longtime and loyal terrorist allies (especially Haqqani Network) in North Waziristan or anywhere else in the tribal territories or any other terrorists who do not attack targets inside Pakistan. The air force has only been bombing Taliban targets and those of other Islamic terrorist groups openly making terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

The basic problem here is that the Taliban is a coalition where the factions cooperate when each feels like it and the more extreme groups oppose any talks or peace deals with the government. In short, the head of the Pakistani Taliban does not control an entire organization in the same way the commander of an army does. The government and Taliban began the current peace negotiations on February 6th. Although both sides agreed that the talks would not be about changing the constitution, one of the Taliban negotiators announced on the 7th that there could be no peace unless the nation accepted a religious dictatorship and the imposition of strict Islamic law. This was the extremist faction problem once more. For the rest of February there were more Taliban terrorist attacks by the extremist factions. The Taliban refused to try and discipline these factions and the government refused to recognize these divisions and just hold the violent factions responsible. In part this was because the more extreme factions do not seek a lot of publicity and know that their best defense is to remain within the larger Taliban organization. The government is thus forced to go after Taliban factions only suspected of anti-government activity as well as those who openly declared their intentions. The Taliban refuse to discipline their uncontrollable factions. That is largely the result of tribal and local politics. If the Taliban factions fight each other they risk starting blood feuds and upsetting many tribal alliances. All politics is local, especially in the tribal territories.  

In Pakistan growing threats from China to cut off and withdraw investments if security for these operations is not improved has led to assigning soldiers to provide security for the largest Chinese companies.

In eastern India the campaign against the Maoist rebels grinds on. There is little that is considered newsworthy in these operations. It’s largely patrols, intelligence collecting and analysis. There are occasional clashes and arrests. Over the last few years the Maoists have been losing ground, and personnel. Desertions are becoming more of a problem as is organized resistance from rural populations who rarely resisted before.

In the Pakistani tribal territories (40 kilometers northwest of Peshawar) gunmen fired on a convoy of trucks carrying NATO supplies and killed two drivers. This comes a week after a court declared that a local political party was breaking the law and had to halt its blockade of this road to trucks carrying NATO supplies. This blockade led to lots of locals losing their jobs and that was not popular at all.

March 3, 2014: In the Pakistani capital (Islamabad) six or more Islamic terrorists attacked a court complex, detonating two suicide bombs and killing 11 people, including one judge. Pakistan ordered more security for courts as these have become a popular target for Islamic terrorists.

In Indian Kashmir police and soldiers, acting on a tip, found an Islamic terrorist hideout in a forest. Seized were an AK-47, 58 rounds of ammo and 18 grenades in addition to cold weather clothing and equipment. Elsewhere in Kashmir gunmen shot dead two policemen outside a court complex.

March 2, 2014:  Pakistan declared a suspension of air strikes against Taliban targets in the tribal territories, but not before an attack on a Taliban faction (in the Khyber area) took credit for yesterday’s attack on a polio vaccination team.

March 1, 2014: The Pakistani Taliban declared a month-long ceasefire. That did not stop one Taliban faction from continuing its attacks against polio vaccination efforts by ambushing (with a roadside bomb and gunfire) two vehicles carrying vaccination personnel and killing twelve people, eleven of them policemen.

In Pakistan a senior army general announced (without providing much detail) that five Iranian border guards who were kidnapped inside Iran and moved into Pakistan on February 7th had been released. The Iranians were held just across the border in Pakistan (Baluchistan). There are Baluchi tribes on both sides of the border. The religious dictatorship in Iran is hostile to Sunnis and the Iranian Baluchis do not like this at all. The Iranian Baluchi rebels have become bolder and more successful in their attacks on Iranian security forces. Iran has responded by executing more captured Baluchi rebels and that has resulted in even more Baluchi violence. Iran demanded that the Pakistani government find the five Iranian border guards. Iran threatened to send its own troops into Pakistan to free the captive border guards if Pakistan did not act. Elsewhere in Baluchistan police raided a village near the Iranian border and freed 11 foreigners (eight Iranians, two Tunisians and one Yemeni) being held captive by a drug smuggling gang.

February 28, 2014: A coalition of major Sunni and Shia Islamic scholars declared today “Anti-Taliban” day. That was a courageous act as any Islamic cleric who openly condemns the Taliban is liable to be put on the hit list of the many Taliban death squads that operate throughout Pakistan, especially in the tribal territories and Karachi (the largest city in Pakistan.) The Pakistani government said that no ground operations were planned in the tribal territories although as a precaution army units in the tribal territories were on a high degree of alert and were readying themselves for Islamic terrorist attacks. That would include counterattacks if necessary.

In the Pakistani tribal territories (Khyber) an Islamic terrorist leader and two subordinates were killed at a checkpoint where the three were challenged and opened fire.

February 27, 2014: In Indian Kashmir a soldier went berserk at his base, killed five other soldiers and then himself.

February 26, 2014: Pakistan revealed that the American CIA refused to use its UAVs to carry out intelligence missions for help in planning Pakistani air strikes against the Taliban. The Americans say this is because they have found that they cannot trust their counterparts in the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Pakistan has its own growing force of UAVs. These are less capable (than the American Predators and Reapers) but can get the job done and are locally made. Pakistan has received Chinese UAVs and these apparently influenced the design of the locally made ones that entered service in late 2013.

February 25, 2014: In Indian Kashmir troops clashed with a group of Islamic terrorists and killed six of them. Documents on the men revealed that all were Pakistanis belonging to a Pakistani Islamic terrorist group long involved with terrorism inside India.

In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) a suicide bomber attacked outside the Iranian consulate, killing himself and two security guards.

February 24, 2014:  In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) unidentified gunmen shot dead a senior Taliban commander. The dead man was a proponent of a negotiated peace and it appears he was murdered by one of the radical factions that are violently opposed to any peace deal that does not involve establishing a religious dictatorship in Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia is trying to persuade Pakistan to supply Pakistani made anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles for delivery to the Syrian rebels. The only problem with this is that Pakistan would be blamed for any civilian aircraft brought down by the missiles.

India and China agreed to be nice to each other. This includes holding joint military drills this year so their military forces could learn how to work together in disaster relief or peace keeping missions. All this feel-good stuff was a win for India because China is reducing its military and diplomatic pressure on India to surrender Indian territory China has claims on. The basic problem is that India and China have never agreed on where their mutual border is. Because of that the border is called the LAC (Line of Actual Control) and is also known as the MacCartney-MacDonald Line. It has, since the 19th century, been the unofficial border between India and China and gives rise to a lot of disputes over who owns what. Most of this is about Chinese claims on territory India currently controls. The LAC is 4,057 kilometers long and borders the Indian States of Ladakh, Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, and Arunachal. On the Chinese side it is mostly Tibet. China has become less vocal about its claims on Indian territory recently but has not abandoned these assertions. Cooling down these tensions is a big relief to India, which has a defense budget one third that of China’s.

February 23, 2014: The Pakistani Taliban told the government that a peace deal was not possible unless it was agreed that the country would be run according to Islamic law. This would quickly lead to a religious dictatorship which only a minority of Pakistanis support.

Although Bangladesh has much less of an Islamic terrorism problem than India and Pakistan, there is still some Islamic terrorism there. This was seen today when a prison van carrying three convicted Islamic terrorists was ambushed. One of the police escorts was killed and the attackers wounded three others. The three prisoners were freed and made a getaway with their liberators.  Two of the escapees had been convicted of terrorism and sentenced to death. One of these men was found the next day and shot to death when he refused to surrender. 

February 22, 2014: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Kohat) a bomb went off in a bus terminal killing 14 people. Since most of the victims were Shia this was believed to be another attack by Sunni Islamic terrorists.

February 18, 2014: In the Pakistani tribal territories at least two soldiers have been killed in the last two days by Islamic terrorist attacks.

 

 

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