February 9, 2009: In Pakistan, the army has intensified its operations against tribesmen who are attacking the truck traffic to Afghanistan (via the Khyber Pass). Over a hundred tribesmen have been killed in the past week, and many of their trucks, weapons and compounds destroyed. Last week, tribesmen damaged a bridge (repairs took three days) on that route.
In Peshawar, the largest city in the Pakistani tribal territories, the new police commander has adopted a more aggressive attitude towards Islamic terrorist groups than his counterpart in the Swat Valley. As a result, the Islamic militants are on the defensive in Peshawar. The pro-Taliban tribesmen have been trying to terrorize the city into submission, one neighborhood at a time. Recent police raids and aggressive patrols have put the Taliban on the defensive. Success against the Taliban is largely dependent on the quality of the senior police and army commanders in the area. Most of these officers are not up to the job, and get shown up by the few that are. This doesn't say much about the overall quality of the Pakistani armed forces.
For the first time since the 2002 murder of reporter Dan Pearl, Islamic terrorists have murdered another Western captive (Polish engineer Piotr Stanczak) in Pakistan. Held captive for five months, terrorists beheaded Stanczak when the government refused to released jailed terrorists in return for the Pole's freedom.
Compared to Pakistan, India has its religious (Islamic and Hindu) and political (communists) fanatics under control. But radical Moslem politicians in India are pressing for affirmative action for Moslems, while radical Hindu politicians was conversion to another religion made illegal. Most Indian Moslems and Christians are from families that were once lower caste Hindu. One way out of that sort of mandated poverty, was to stop being a Hindu. This sort of thing still is a problem, even though the caste system has been outlawed for decades.
February 6, 2009: Pakistani courts have freed A.Q. Khan from five years of house arrest. Khan is the nuclear scientist who stole nuclear weapons technology from Western firms, and bought the rest from China, in order to build Pakistan's nuclear bomb in the 1990s. Khan then got rich when he organized a black market organization that sold nuclear weapons technology to countries like Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan confessed when he was caught, but now says he is innocent. He is a national hero in Pakistan, because he was largely responsible for making Pakistan a nuclear nation.
February 5, 2009: In southeast Pakistan, a bomb went off in a Shia mosque, killing at least 25 people. Sunni radical groups have been attacking Shia around here for decades. Radical Shia groups strike back and there's no end in sight. In this case, a Shia mob responded by burning down a local police station. The police tend to be Sunni, and not very aggressive at going after the Sunni radicals.
February 3, 2009: Nearly 50,000 people have fled growing Taliban violence in the Swat valley. Once a popular tourist attraction, just to the northwest of the capital, the mountain valley has been overrun by the armed followers of a charismatic Taliban cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, who is out to turn Swat, then the rest of Pakistan, into a religious dictatorship. The government has been unwilling to use the army aggressively enough to shut down the Taliban in Swat, and as a result, the police have been terrorized (and outnumbered) into ineffectiveness. The army has four brigades in the Swat Valley, but the officers in charge appear uncertain about what to do, or unable to do it.