April 22, 2011: Pakistan's Swat Valley, where the Taliban took control for two years in 2007, and were then driven out by the army, is becoming hostile to the government again. 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.
While Pakistani military intelligence, and some senior politicians, back the elimination of American missile strikes against terrorists, army generals are openly backing these UAV tactics. The government does not take sides in this open dispute, which says a lot about how power is dealt with in Pakistan. American military leaders openly accuse ISI, and some Pakistani officers, of being Taliban supporters, or even collaborators. Many Pakistanis agree, even though their government continues to deny the collaboration.
Indian Air Force leaders are becoming more public in their criticisms of mismanagement in procuring new combat aircraft. The effort to buy 126 modern fighters has been in the works for over a decade, and a buying decision has still not been made. Incompetence and corruption are seen as the cause, but Indian Air Force generals see a loss of air superiority versus Pakistan or China as a result. This is especially true with Pakistan, which in the last decade has upgraded its F-16s, obtained more and begun receiving Chinese FC-17s (an F-16 knock-off).
Pakistani armed forces leaders see a different picture. The Indian economy, already much larger, is growing more than twice as fast as Pakistan's. Thus India spends nearly six times as much on defense, and this advantage is going to grow unless Pakistan can increase economic growth. This is unlikely to happen, as India has also been more successful at curbing corruption and encouraging economic growth. Unfortunately, too many Pakistani political and military leaders see the problem as mysterious plots, by foreigners (especially Israel) against virtuous Pakistan.
An Indian government study shows that, last year, the effort to weaken the Maoist rebellion failed. Last year, 1,169 people died from Maoist related violence. Worse, Maoist recruiting has increased. Maoists are now believed to have 15,000 armed men, and a presence in nearly 40 percent of Indian districts. Interrogation of captured Maoists indicates that Maoist military training is more extensive and effective than what the paramilitary police get. As always, the biggest asset for the Maoists is the continued corruption and poor government in rural India.
Indian Kashmir is experiencing an increase in violence, as Islamic terrorists and local separatists try to disrupt upcoming local elections. Most locals back the elections, the first in decades.
The Pakistani Army continues to refuse a move into North Waziristan. But the thousands of Taliban fighters there are preparing for an invasion anyway, as well as raids outside their sanctuary. The army promises to deal with these raids, but not the sanctuary.
In Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, political and religious death squads continue their killing spree, with over 30 murders in the last few weeks. Paramilitary (Ranger) police commanders insist they can halt the carnage if they get more equipment, particularly a functioning helicopter and 800 protective vests. The government is reluctant to turn loose the paramilitary Rangers, who also want a "free hand" in pursuing and dealing with the death squads.
April 21, 2011: In northwest Pakistan, over a hundred Taliban attacked a border crossing, and killed 14 soldiers before retreating back into the hills. These attacks are meant to intimidate the police and army into leaving the Taliban alone. Often it works. Meanwhile, in Karachi, a bomb went off in an illegal gambling hall, killing 19 and wounding nearly fifty. The explosion was followed with an attack by armed men. This appears to be a criminal, not Islamic terror, matter.
April 13, 2011: The Pakistani military ignored criticism in a recent U.S. State Department survey of human rights, that accused the Pakistani military of using a culture of impunity to commit a wide array of atrocities. At the same time, demands by the Pakistani military, especially military intelligence (ISI) that the United States withdraw 355 Special Forces trainers and CIA operatives, and allow Pakistan to veto missile strikes against terrorist targets, was rebuffed. This sort of friction is nothing new. Since the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, the U.S. has bluntly told Pakistan that it can either be a willing ally against Islamic terrorists, or be part of the problem and be attacked.