India-Pakistan: Moving Day

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July 17, 2014: In Pakistan the military claims nearly 500 Islamic terrorists have been killed so far in North Waziristan, as well as 30 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilians (which could number in the hundreds). The army claims the capture of 88 terrorist bases and large quantities of weapons and equipment. Most of the dead Islamic terrorists were identified as foreigners, mostly from Central Asia and China. Several dozen Islamic terrorists have been captured, either via surrender or because they were wounded and unable to escape. Miramshah, the largest city in North Waziristan is still being fought over but the army controls about 80 percent of it.

The offensive, although long sought by the American and Afghans, seems to have been triggered by a June 8th Taliban attack on the country’s largest airport outside Karachi. The ten attackers and 26 others died there and for the military this was one major Islamic terrorist atrocity too many. The military and the civilian governments had been trying to negotiate peace deals with the Islamic terrorists groups for nearly a decade, without success. So the air force and army were sent in on short notice. The military called the operation Zarb-e-Azb (sword thrust) and deployed over 30,000 troops and more than 140 helicopters and aircraft. The air strikes began on June 15th and the ground offensive on the 30th.

About one percent of the people in North Waziristan are Islamic terrorists or key supporters and while the military always controlled some of the larger towns, the tribes and Islamic terrorists controlled the countryside. Most of the people in North Waziristan have fled the fighting. Many of the Islamic terrorists appear to have cut their hair, shaved their beards and attempted to escape among the civilian refugees. A few of these have been caught and interrogations reveal that the number escaping this way number in the hundreds and that many sensed the ground offensive was coming and went to the barbers before the troops moved against them. But many of the Islamic terrorists are fighting to the death while most are using their extensive knowledge of local geography to escape, with their weapons, to Afghanistan or adjacent tribal territories.

The military made a point of describing the North Waziristan operation as going after all Islamic terrorists, with no exceptions. That remains to be seen, as there are several Islamic terrorist groups in the area, like the Haqqani Network, that have long done the bidding of the Pakistani generals and not attacked anyone in Pakistan. Haqqani concentrates in Afghan targets. The escaping Islamic terrorists will be less of a threat for a while (months, if not longer) but unless hunted down the terror attacks will return.

North Waziristan itself is small, with an area of 4,700 square kilometers and a population of about 500,000. It is the only sanctuary Islamic terrorist groups like the Taliban and Haqqani Network have in the Pakistani tribal territories. The government claims that over a million refugees from North Waziristan have been registered. This differs from pre-war estimates of the North Waziristan population. These estimates were based on economic activity and aerial photos. The higher number of “registered refugees” is probably part of a scam to steal aid money by diverting funds for imaginary refugees to the bank accounts of senior officials. This sort of thing happens every time there is a large scale refugee crisis in Pakistan and has led many major donors to avoid contributing unless there are strong controls over the spending. Local officials tend to oppose the imposition of such controls, calling it an insult. Another problem with the refugee relief effort is that some of the local and international charities are suspected of being fronts for Islamic terrorists thus some of the relief money that gets stolen will fund more Islamic terrorist operations.

Throughout Pakistan police have recently arrested more than 500 people and charged them with supporting terrorist organizations. This is apparently an effort to prevent the Islamic terrorists being driven out of North Waziristan from quickly rebuilding and resuming operations. Nearly three weeks of ground operations in North Waziristan has led to the capture of extensive Islamic terrorist base facilities, weapons, equipment and documents. These Islamic terrorist groups were busy training more terrorists and preparing for more attacks.

Afghanistan claims 80,000 Pakistanis have fled across the border into Khost and Paktika provinces so far. These refugees are fleeing air raids and ground combat in North Waziristan and many are staying with kin just across the border.

The Pakistani and Afghan governments have agreed to cooperate in dealing with the recent Pakistani offensive into the long-time Islamic terrorist sanctuary of North Waziristan. The Afghans had asked for this offensive for a long time and the Pakistanis asked the Afghans to put more troops on the border North Waziristan shares with Afghanistan to catch or kill any Islamic terrorists fleeing into Afghanistan. Unfortunately fleeing Islamic terrorists can bribe or threaten the Afghan border guards to let them pass. This often works, even if the Islamic terrorists are bearded and armed.

The Indian offensive against Maoist (communist) rebels has been going on since 2008, leaving some 3,000 rebels, police and civilians dead. There are still believed to be about 7,000 armed Maoists out there. The Maoists are losing ground and personnel but at the rate their decline has been going for the last few years it will take a decade or more to entirely eliminate the armed communist rebels throughout eastern India. The larger problem is the corruption and poor government that provides the Maoists with plenty of recruits and local support. The government pays lip service to dealing with that but results have been meager. As long as the corruption and poor living conditions exist, especially out in the countryside, the Maoists, or similar groups, will survive.

July 16, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV fired four missiles and killed fifteen Islamic terrorists. This is the fifth such UAV attack this year and the Pakistani government officially protests these operations. Nationalist politicians and much of the mass media also oppose the UAV operations and opinion polls show that over 60 percent of Pakistanis agree with this anti-American attitude. But the government does not attack the UAVs because the missile attacks kill Islamic terrorists that are attacking and killing Pakistanis regularly.

In Kashmir Pakistani troops violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement again by firing on Indian troops across the LOC (Line of Control) with rifles and machine-guns. One Indian soldier was killed, two wounded and four nearby civilians wounded as well. Indians responded with similar type weapons and it was unclear if there were casualties on the other side. The official Pakistani Army position is that India starts these incidents by firing first but there is little evidence of that and even the Pakistani government is at a loss as to why their military continues to allow these incidents to happen. The only reasonable explanation anyone can come up with is the attacks are used to distract Indian border guards to assist Islamic terrorists trying to cross the LOC. Yet many of these Pakistani attacks seem to occur when there is no such crossing attempt. That may be a tactic to confuse the Indian border forces by attacking randomly and not just when the firing is in support of Islamic terrorists. In any event the Pakistani military always denies everything. When Indian and Pakistani diplomats or political leaders meet to discuss the issue both agree that the attacks are made from Pakistan but Pakistani civilian leaders admit that they cannot really control everything their military does.

July 15, 2014: In Pakistan the army moved on Mir Ali, the second largest town in North Waziristan. Mir Ali is a market town on the main road to the nearby Afghan border and is 25 kilometers west of Miramshah .

July 13, 2014: Pakistani warplanes bombed Mir Ali in preparation for a ground assault.

July 12, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (Bajur) 60 Islamic terrorists crossed the Afghan border and fired on Pakistani soldiers, killing three of them. The Pakistanis called for reinforcements and the Islamic terrorists fled back into Afghanistan. There are several groups of Islamic terrorists from the Bajur area that were driven into Afghanistan over the last few years and continue to return and attack security forces in Pakistani territory.

July 11, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (South Waziristan) soldiers captured a notorious Taliban commander. Acting on a tip (apparently from rival Taliban commanders) the troops seized Adnan Rashid, a former air force technician who joined the Taliban and was convicted and jailed for terrorist acts in 2004 but escaped in 2012.  

July 10, 2014: India is increasing military spending by 12 percent for 2015 (to $38.35 billion). Earlier this year Pakistan announced a similar increase (11 percent) for 2015 (to $7.1 billion). India is more concerned with China, which spends more than three times as much on their military and is increasingly aggressive about claims on Indian territory.

In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV fired several missiles and killed six Islamic terrorists.

In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) tribal separatists killed seven soldiers and police in two incidents.

July 6, 2014: Pakistan has agreed to resume barter trade with Iran. In part this is being done to help pay for electricity Pakistan imports from Iran. But it also provides Iran with more opportunities to get around the stricter trade embargo it has been under since 2012.

July 5, 2014: In Kashmir Indian troops killed an Islamic terrorist in an action that left one soldier wounded.

July 4, 2014: In northernmost Pakistan (Gilgit–Baltistan) two dozen armed men in army uniforms attacked a police station, captured and tied up the few policemen on duty and warned them to quit the police or be killed. The raiders then looted the station and fled. The army dispatched special counter-terrorism units to hunt down this group of Islamic terrorists. Violence by Islamic radicals, especially against Shia Moslems and locals who oppose the Pakistani government in general, has been a growing problem in this area since 2010. Several hundred people have been killed or wounded and the army has imposed strict travel controls to try and contain the violence. All this has driven away foreign tourists, leaving many locals unemployed and angry at the Islamic terrorists. This area is claimed by India as part of the original Kashmir. 

July 3, 2014: In northwest Pakistan troops found and destroyed the Pakistani Taliban media center in Miramshah, the largest town in North Waziristan.

Acting on a tip police i n eastern India (Bihar) police seized a Maoist bomb building facility hidden in a rural cave. There were components there for dozens of bombs.

June 30, 2014: In eastern India (Jharkhand) police, acting on a tip, raided a Maoist base. Most of the communist rebels fled, but one was killed and large quantities of weapons and explosives were seized.

In Kashmir Pakistani troops fired on Indian troops across the LOC (Line of Control) with rifles and machine-guns. Indians responded with similar type weapons and there were no casualties on either side.

 

 

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