India-Pakistan: Take Action Or Else

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June 12, 2014: The U.S. has resumed UAV missile strikes against Islamic terrorists in Pakistan (North Waziristan) killing 16 Islamic terrorists in two attacks only a few hours apart. Apparently ten missiles were used. This is the first such attack this year and the last one took place in December 2013, killing three. The long halt was apparently at the request of the Pakistani government, in support of Pakistani efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban. Like all similar efforts in the past, this one has fallen apart and the Pakistani military is now at war with the Taliban and some of the other Islamic terrorist groups in the tribal territories. The Taliban is also coming apart as a unified organization and the army is under growing popular pressure to suppress the Islamic terrorist groups in the tribal territories. The Pakistani Army is massing troops for a ground offensive and many civilians in North Waziristan are fleeing the area until this is resolved.

There is another reason for this growing aggressiveness against Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. Pakistan’s long (since the 1970s) support of Islamic terrorism has made it something of a pariah to all its neighbors. This is because Pakistan appears to have lost control of the Islamic terrorist groups it has provided support and sanctuary to for so long. This puts all the neighbors at greater risk of attack by Islamic terrorists who still operate out of bases in Pakistan. Those threatened include India, Afghanistan, China, Iran, the Moslem Central Asian nations and, worst of all, non-Moslem nations worldwide. Especially since September 11, 2001 Pakistan was increasingly and often publically criticized for its terrorism policy. This became more common since 2011 as many of the terrorists it supported have declared war on their host and the neighbors concluded that Pakistan has lost control of the terrorism monster it created. Now the neighbors are discussing this situation with each other and international organizations. Pakistan appears unable to fix itself or deal with the international terror threat it created. Pakistan has been advised to take action, or else (the neighbors will).

What is remarkable about terrorism problem is that it is largely being manned and run by Pushtun tribal groups. The Pushtun comprise only 15 percent of the Pakistani population and are also the poorest and least educated minority. A unique feature of Pakistan is that it's 165 million people are all minorities, although the Punjabis (44 percent of the population) are the dominant one (not just in numbers, but in education and income as well). Closely allied with the Punjabis are the Sindis (14 percent), and together these two groups pretty much run the country. Karachi, the largest city in Pakistani, is in Sind, but contains residents from all over the country. Other minorities in Pakistan include Seraikis (10.5 percent, related to Punjabis), Muhajirs (7.6 percent, Moslems who came from India after 1947), Baluchis (3.6 percent) and other minorities amounting to about five percent. The Seraikis and Muhajirs live in Punjab and Sind.

For a long time most Pushtuns stayed in the tribal territories of the northwest. But since September 11, 2001 there have been a lot more Pushtun fleeing to Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. This metropolis contains eight percent of the nation's population (14 million people) and produces a quarter of the GDP. Islamic radicals have long been present in the city. The Taliban established a presence among the two million Pushtuns there. But a lot of the criminal gangs in Karachi are Pushtun and these are the gangs the Taliban often work closely with. Moreover there are now more murders in Karachi than in the tribal territories and this has been a trend since 2010. Finally, in 2013, the number of terrorist deaths in the northwestern tribal territories fell below 2,000 and the murders in Karachi rose above 2,000. Pakistani security forces are acutely aware of who is doing most of the mayhem. The security situation in Karachi is considered a major problem and the Pushtuns are seen as the leading cause of the problem.

Then there are the trouble foreign Islamic terrorists hiding out in the tribal territories. China has been pressing Pakistan to do something about Chinese Islamic terrorists (Turkic Uighurs from northwest China) based in Pakistan and Pakistan appears to be finally acting on these complaints. The recent Pakistani air strikes and ground operations in the tribal territories are concentrating on these “bad Taliban” while the majority of the Islamic terrorists in the area are left alone.  Pakistan is still reluctant to admit it is the cause of so many regional Islamic terrorism problems but the neighbors are not being very understanding. China, who supplies a lot of Pakistan’s weapons and foreign investment, has told its troublesome neighbor to fix the situation or see China go from being a helpful to a hostile neighbor. The other neighbors have had a similar reaction, but given China’s place as Pakistan’s most important ally, Pakistan can no longer ignore the problem. Meanwhile China appears to have put their claims on large parts of India on hold for the moment and is offering to improve trade relations. This is mutually beneficial, but Indian military leaders note that China is not offering to back off on its territorial claims. Th u s the military rivalry between the two nations remains. India's newly elected prime minister owes much of his popularity to his skill at economic development and some mutually beneficial trade deals with China would help him and India a lot.

As if Pakistan didn’t have enough problems it is now suffering from a return of the opium and heroin trade. This comes in the form of poppy cultivation returning from Afghanistan. Poppies are the plant that produces opium and that is further refined into heroin. The immense profits from the sale of opium (locally) and heroin (internationally) have kept the Taliban and several Afghan warlords going over the last decade. Meanwhile the growing tribal rebellion in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) has created enough unpoliced areas near the Afghan border for the Afghan drug gangs on the other side to expand poppy production into Baluchistan. The drug gangs offer attractive terms to Baluchi farmers, so that crops of poppies produce ten times the profit of food crops. All this is part of a cycle that has been going on for several centuries.

June 10, 2014: In Pakistan’s largest city Karachi Taliban gunmen again attacked the airport, for the second time in two days. This attack was minor, however, with two gunmen firing on a guard post on the airport perimeter and then fleeing back into a nearby city slum when the guards returned fire. There were no casualties. Meanwhile in the tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) air force F-16s hit nine Islamic terrorist bases and killed at least 25 people. These are the first air attacks since late May, when a series of strikes in North Waziristan killed at least 75. The Khyber area was last hit back in April.

Meanwhile Pakistani officials found, after examining the dead Islamic terrorists from the first airport attack, that most or all of them appear to be Uzbeks (from Central Asia). Foreign Islamic terrorists have long based themselves in the tribal territories, especially in Waziristan. This has been going on for decades and many have married local women. There has also been tension and since September 11, 2001 there have been some fierce battles between the foreign Islamic terrorists and local tribesmen. Those “wars” are over but some of the tensions persist. The army is particularly keen on wiping out these foreign Islamic terrorists, especially after the Taliban said it was not responsible for the airport attacks, which are now seen as purely Uzbek operations.

In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) border guards reported that two mortar shells, apparently fired from the Iranian side of the border, landed in a remote area, causing no injuries or damage.

June 9, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) a suicide truck bomb killed four soldiers (and wounded seven) guarding a checkpoint.

June 8, 2014: In Pakistan, near the Iranian border, Sunni Islamic terrorists used suicide bombers to kill 26 Pakistani Shia returning from a pilgrimage in Iran. Later that night ten Taliban gunmen disguised as soldiers attacked the airport outside Karachi. This triggered a battle that left 36 dead (including ten of the attackers) and several buildings burned. Security forces prevented the attackers from hitting any aircraft or taking hostages. Apparently the attackers planned to take hostages and make the incursion last a lot longer and become a major news event. By 4 AM Monday the five hour incident was over.

June 7, 2014: In eastern Afghanistan (Kunar) 32 rockets fired from Pakistan landed near a populated area but there were no casualties. A similar attack in January killed four children and there have been several other such attacks this year. In May Pakistani F-16s attacked targets in the area. The Afghan government complains to Pakistan but the attacks keep happening. That is because Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of doing nothing about the anti-Pakistan Islamic terrorists who take shelter in Afghanistan and regularly cross the border to carry out attacks in Pakistan. This time around it is all about Pakistan, which complains that there have been three attacks across the border since May 25th, causing dozens of casualties and it must stop. 

In northwest Pakistan (Bajur) two soldiers died during two separate bomb attacks.

India has made some adjustments to its tactics used against Maoist rebels in the east. There will now be more emphasis on security before economic programs are begun in areas formerly controlled by Maoists. This will reduce violence against aid workers and locals who are hired to make the new programs work. Moreover the national government is urging the state governments where anti-Maoist operations are taking place to cooperate more with other states and share ideas. It was noted, for example, that Jharkhand State has seen a 35 percent reduction in Maoist violence and this is largely because the state government has implemented more effective measures to support the national police offensive against the leftist rebels. India has a federal form of government, similar to that in the United States, and that means that the 29 states (and seven independent territories) have a great deal of autonomy and local power to do things the way the local voters prefer it. This leads to very different economic, political and security results in the different states.

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) eight Maoists, including a local leader, surrendered.

June 6, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) army leaders met with tribal leaders and negotiated a 15 day ceasefire to give tribal leaders time to decide how much they will cooperate with the army in dealing with Islamic terrorist groups that are openly at war with the government. The army claims to have killed 120 Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories over the last few weeks but many locals insist that many of the victims were civilians. That’s a matter of interpretation as many of the victims were probably part-time Islamic terrorists or key supporters (but not active fighters for Islamic terrorist groups). The day before one major Taliban factions called on the tribes in (North Waziristan) to go to war with the military. While many of the tribesmen in the area support Islamic terrorism they are less enthusiastic about the devastation that can result from going to war with the military. Over ten years of war with the government has made Islamic radicalism less popular and there is growing support for some long-term peace.

Elsewhere in Pakistan the notoriously pro-Islamic terrorist military and its intelligence agency (the ISI) have succeeded in shutting down criticism from the largest TV news operation (Geo) in the country by using trumped up charges that the station was guilty of blasphemy. This includes persuading the normally anti-ISI civilian government to order Geo shut down for 15 days for “slandering” the ISI. The station also must pay a $102,000 fine. This was the result of a military effort against the media that included mobilizing Islamic conservative groups to attack Geo and its employees. Geo had been criticizing the military for corruption and supporting Islamic terrorism and in response the military went after Geo in April, without success or much cooperation from the courts or other government agencies. The military kept at it until they got some results.

The military was angry with the Geo’s TV news channel mainly for accusing the military of being behind an April 19th attack against a prominent Geo TV journalist (Hamid Mir) who frequently criticized the ISI and the army during his Geo show. Mir survived the attack and the army denied it had anything to do with it. Similar attacks have been traced back to the army and ISI in the past. In Pakistan it’s understood that openly criticizing the ISI or army can have unhealthy consequences. The army first tried using jammers to block Geo from being received on military bases and also banned newspapers that were also making these accusations. The military then mobilized its political and media allies to back this attack on Geo, which resulted in the fake blasphemy charges and repetition of these charges in Islamic and pro-military media. On May 26th Geo surrendered and printed and broadcast a groveling apology to the military and ISI over the issue.  That was not enough and now the station is shut down for 15 days. The military and ISI want the increasingly aggressive media to remember that there are some subjects that are simply not covered in Pakistan. Geo was undeterred though and went to court to sue ISI for defamation. ISI and the military have been less successful at intimidating and manipulating the courts so this suit could result in another public defeat for the military.

June 5, 2014: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a raid on a tribal separatist base left at least 30 rebels dead. The attackers lost one paramilitary policeman.

June 4, 2014: In Pakistan (Rawalpindi) a suicide bomber attacked an army vehicle near army headquarters killing five people including two officers.

Pakistan complained that rockets fired from Afghanistan had killed two soldiers on the Pakistani side of the border.

June 3, 2014: In Pakistan (outside Karachi) an Air Force Mirage jet fighter on a training mission crashed into a bus station, killing both pilots and two people on the ground. Pakistan has about 160 Mirage jets, bought from France mostly in the late 1960s and early 1970s and kept flying at great effort and expense. Despite their age, only nine have been lost in accidents like this. But nearly all those losses have been since 2000.

Pakistan is increasing military spending by 11 percent for 2015 (to $7.1 billion).

May 31, 2014: Pakistan launched some air strikes into Afghanistan after Pakistani Islamic terrorists based in Afghanistan crossed the border and attacked in Pakistan. Afghanistan complained about this invasion while Pakistan complained about Afghanistan ignoring the terrorists camped out on the Afghan side of the border. Afghanistan accuses of doing the same for far longer and more extensively but Pakistan refuses to acknowledge that problem.

May 29, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) the Taliban declared the truce deal with the government was over and warned civilians to leave the area before the fighting with the armed forces escalates.

In eastern India (Bihar) police arrested a wanted Maoist leader.

May 28, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) a major faction of the Pakistani Taliban (representing most of the Islamic terrorists from the Mehsud tribe) renounced the aggressive stance of the Taliban leadership and called for a separate peace deal between the Mehsud tribe warriors and the government. The Mehsud tribe faction has now shifted its allegiance to the Afghan Taliban and indicates that it would only fight in Afghanistan. The government prefers that and leaves alone Islamic terrorist groups that operate outside Pakistan. The Mehsud faction has been skirmishing with more militant Taliban factions for months. 

May 25, 2014: The Pakistan Army leadership told the civilian government that peace negotiations with the Taliban must end because the Taliban could not be trusted, did not control all of its factions and some of those factions were at war with Pakistan and had no interest in any peace deals. 

 

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