India-Pakistan: Americans Sense A Scam In North Waziristan

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July 31, 2014: In Pakistan the military now claims nearly 600 Islamic terrorists killed after 47 days of combat in North Waziristan. So far 34 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilians (which could number in the hundreds) have also died. Thirty Islamic terrorists surrendered, but most fight to the death if unable to flee. Most of the Islamic terrorists there are believed to have fled the area and are seeking to set up operations elsewhere. The army is trying to minimize its own casualties by using air power (bombers and helicopter gunships) and artillery a lot. A lot of time is spent clearing all the mines and booby-traps the Islamic terrorists left behind to delay pursuit. Much of the fighting is now concentrated in the Shawal valley (about 100 kilometers southwest of Miramshah, the largest city in North Waziristan) , one of the most popular areas for Islamic terrorists in North Waziristan. The valley is rugged, remote and hard for troops to operate it. Pakistani bombers and American UAVs have been hitting the valley hard.

The army claims the capture of over a hundred terrorist bases and large quantities of weapons and equipment. Over 30 bomb building workshops were found and destroyed along with components for building hundreds of bombs (from explosive vests to car and truck bombs). Dozens of car and trucks bombs were found and disabled. One of the truck bombs contained five tons of explosives. Also destroyed were three ammunition manufacturing facilities. Making your own ammo has long been common in the region but the Islamic terrorists here were doing it on a larger scale. Most of the dead Islamic terrorists were identified as foreigners, mostly from Central Asia and China. Miramshah has been cleared and the second largest town, Mirali, is still being fought over but the army controls about 70 percent of it. Troops are also seizing vehicles and other property of known Islamic terrorists and destroying their homes.

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 (575,000) 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.

The U.S. has noted that no members of the Haqqani Network have been reported killed and warned Pakistan that if some serious damage were not done to the Haqqani Network then this operation in North Waziristan will be seen as a sham, with Pakistan just going after Islamic terrorists who attack Pakistan and not groups like the Haqqani Network that have long been seen as tools of the Pakistani military (and its military branch the ISI) and done much damage in Afghanistan. For decades the Haqqani Network was an Islamic terrorist organization that was tolerated in Pakistan if it confined its operations to North Waziristan and Afghanistan (where it attacked foreign troops and the Afghan government). In 2012 the UN added the Haqqani Network to its list of international terrorists. All UN members are supposed to go after international terrorists and Pakistan complied, on paper, by insisting that it was seeking to shut down the Haqqani Network. But that was not happening, as the Haqqani Network remained safe in North Waziristan and is apparently still safe even though the Pakistani army now controls most of North Waziristan. The U.S. fears that Haqqani will either resume operations in North Waziristan or move across the border to its old base areas in Afghanistan. These were shut down with the help of American troops over the last few years but with most U.S. troops gone by the end of 2014 Haqqani could return to eastern Afghanistan by paying large bribes to the Afghan security forces. Haqqani has lots of income (from various criminal enterprises) and could afford that approach. Afghan officials have joined the U.S. in demanding that the Pakistanis go after Haqqani. The U.S. has been keeping an eye on Haqqani in North Waziristan and since June 12th there have been four American UAV missile attacks there, mostly against Haqqani targets.

The offensive, although long sought by the Americans and Afghans, was actually 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. The Pakistani media have strongly supported the offensive, as do most Pakistanis. But a large minority (10-20 percent) of Pakistanis still support Islamic radicalism, despite the growing number of Islamic terrorist attacks on Pakistanis. This minority is less supportive of operation Zarb-e-Azb.

The Pakistani effort to shut down the Islamic terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan is expected to reduce the skyrocketing number of murders (mostly connected with Islamic terrorism) in Karachi, the largest city (14 million) in Pakistan. Karachi contains eight percent of the nation's population and accounts for a quarter of the GDP. Over the last few decades it has attracted a lot of tribal people (mostly Pushtun) from the northwest and Afghanistan. These poor and uneducated tribals now account for 14 percent of Karachi’s population and a much larger percentage of those committing serious crimes. Consider that in the first six months of 2014 258 people were killed by police. Most of the dead were Islamic terrorists, plus a large minority of common criminals and some innocent civilians. That was 35 percent more in the first six months of 2013. At the same time 75 policemen were killed. Overall 1,557 were killed in Karachi during those six months. Most of those were civilians, many the victims of religious or political feuds. Meanwhile, in the northwest and across the border in Afghanistan there has been a noticeable reduction in Islamic terrorist violence since the Pakistani offensive began in mid-June. 

Residents of the nearby Swat Valley fear that some of the Islamic terrorists fleeing North Waziristan will come their way. The valley has been a battleground between the army and the Taliban for years. The Taliban took control of the Swat Valley for two years in 2007, and were then driven out by the army. But there remained a lot of hostility towards the government. It's all about corruption and lack of a rule of law. The Taliban got in partly on the promise of driving out corrupt government officials and providing fair Islamic courts. The Taliban then destroyed their popularity by also trying to impose unpopular lifestyle rules (no schools or jobs for women, no video, music or shaving for men). The government brought back the corruption, despite knowing this was a major problem. This has driven some Swat Valley residents to support the Taliban again.  But most valley residents don’t trust the Taliban either after experiencing Taliban rule. The Swat people want peace.

China and India recently agreed to allow more economic activity between the two countries. This is unpopular with Indian firms who see the Chinese as capable and ruthless competitors. Indian businessmen know that the flood of Chinese consumer goods entering Pakistan in the past few years has hurt Pakistani manufacturers. The Chinese good are cheaper and seen as better quality than locally made stuff. Indian diplomatic experts also point out that once China becomes a large part of a neighbor’s economy they will use that economic leverage to coerce concessions out of the neighbor. China is even doing this with mighty Japan, long a major investor in and exporter to China. Meanwhile India is spending billions of dollars to double the number of troops stationed on its borders with China because of border disputes the Chinese refuse to settle.

July 30, 2014: Indian officials now believe Maoist (communist) rebels have 8,500 full time members, most of them armed and over 10,000 part-time supporters who can be called on as needed. The Indian offensive against Maoist 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 29, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (Lower Dir) at least 70 Islamic terrorists crossed the Afghan border and attacked a Pakistani checkpoint. The soldiers in the fortified checkpoint repulsed the attackers, killing seven and wounding at least nine before the rest fled back into Afghanistan. Elsewhere in Lower Dir armed men entered the home of a local politician and killed six people. The politician was not home. It’s unclear who did the killing.

In eastern India (Jharkhand) police arrested a senior Maoist leader as he sought treatment at a hospital.

July 27, 2014: In Pakistan (outside Karachi) soldiers found and killed four Pakistani Taliban.

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

July 26, 2014: In Indian Kashmir a violent demonstration by local Moslems (to protest the presence of an ancient Hindu temple) left two policemen dead and more than twelve wounded.

July 24, 2014: The army admitted that the man they arrested on the 15th, near the Afghan border, was not wanted Taliban leader Adnan Rashid but rather another wanted (but not as much as Rashid) terrorist,

July 23, 2014: In eastern India (Jharkhand) a predawn raid in a rural village led to a two hour gun battle and the death of a senior Maoist leader. His bodyguards got away. Police recovered weapons, ammo and cell phones.

July 22, 2014: 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. India believes this attacks was used to distract Indian border guards to assist Islamic terrorists trying to cross the LOC. There were two such attempts and both were defeated, leaving one soldier and one Islamic terrorist dead. The rest of the Islamic terrorists fled back into Pakistan.

In eastern India (Bihar) Maoist rebels used explosives to destroy part of a rail line.

July 20, 2014: In Pakistani Punjab local officials claim that India fired an artillery across the border and killed a Pakistani civilian. Punjab was split between India and Pakistan after the British left in 1947 and some of the territory along the border between the two Punjabs is still claimed by both countries.

July 19, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV fired two missiles and killed eleven Islamic terrorists. This is the sixth 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 southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a motorcycle bomb killed a policeman and two civilians as well as wounding 16 civilians.

July 17, 2014: Pakistani police raided an Islamic terrorist hideout outside the city of Lahore, only a few kilometers from the home of the prime minister. The raid left two policemen and nine Islamic terrorist. Another three policemen were also wounded. The police acted on a tip.

In Pakistan’s Khyber Agency (next to North Waziristan) Islamic terrorists attacked a checkpoint and killed eight local police on duty there. Local residents fear this attack was caused by Islamic terrorists fleeing the offensive in North Waziristan.

 

 

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