May 3, 2012: Islamic terrorism remains a threat in India, although a declining one. This is just as well because India is a federation of 28 states and the states resist interference by the central government. This has caused problems with establishing nationwide standards for counter-terrorism efforts. Meanwhile, Mumbai remains a bitter memory that just won't fade. The Pakistan-sponsored 2008, attack not only killed nearly 200 people but poisoned relations with Pakistan (which still refuses to prosecute the organizations in Pakistan responsible for planning and supervising the attack). Worse, Mumbai has long been a target for Islamic terrorists. In the last 12 years 458 have died in Mumbai from terrorism. The states don't trust the central government (partly because of the rampant corruption) and prefer to go off on their own. This leads to widely varying effectiveness when it comes to counter-terror efforts. Fortunately, Islamic terrorism has declined among Moslems in popularity over the last decade. In Pakistan, for example, less than 20 percent of the population approve of al Qaeda, although local terror groups that attack India are more popular. But not in India, where the local Moslems (who outnumber Moslems in Pakistan) have largely declined to be radicalized.
But there are still pockets of radicalism. Although India has crushed the Pakistan based terrorist operatives in Kashmir, two decades of these groups operating in Kashmir has infected a generation of young men with Islamic radicalism. Although these terrorism enthusiasts now have great difficulty getting support from Pakistan, a few still have an urge to kill and maim and do that with what few weapons they can scrounge. Most Kashmiris are hostile to their local militants because the economy is beginning to revive. The foundation of prosperity in Kashmir is tourism, especially from other parts of India. Too much Islamic radicalism and the tourists will stay away and everyone will suffer. Thus the local Islamic radicals have to fear their fellow Moslems, as well as the security forces.
The Indian war against its Maoist rebels is not going well. The Maoists are a presence in about a quarter of the country. These are mostly rural areas in the east. Increasing police pressure (including dozens of paramilitary battalions) has resulted in the Maoists becoming more ruthless and savage. The police often respond in kind and civilians are caught in the crossfire. This fighting is likely to go on for years, possibly until the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, Pakistan remains a much more violent place, with more than 30 times more people killed (per capita) than in India. There are regularly 5-10 times more terrorist deaths each month in Pakistan, a nation with a sixth of the population of India.
A year after the American raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden and captured thousands of al Qaeda documents, it appears that those documents did not identify specific Pakistani officials who helped hide bin Laden. It appears that bin Laden took advantage of the corruption in Pakistan, along with the "Pushtun Mafia" (tribal gangsters much feared in lowland Punjab and Sind provinces, where most Pakistanis live) to set up his hideout in the military city of Abbottabad and evade detection for all those years.
At the same time, Pakistan continues to claim it knew nothing of bin Laden's location and that the intelligence sharing agreement with the United States provided important information leading to locating bin Laden. Pakistanis also point out that Islamic radicals went to war with Pakistan after Pakistan sided with the U.S. in the War on Terror and sent death squads after national and local leaders. But Pakistan continues to ignore the very real fact that Pakistan continues to provide support and sanctuary for Islamic terror groups that have carried out major terror attacks in India. This effort is controlled by powerful factions in the military and intelligence services. The military also sponsors the decades old propaganda campaign that paints India and the West as obsessed with destroying Pakistan and Islam. The truth of the matter is that India (increasingly) and the West (always) ignore Pakistan, considering it a failed state that only gets any attention because of its proclivity for murderous mischief. This view is unacceptable within Pakistan, where illusions of power and glory are worshipped. Anyone who says otherwise is punished, driven out of the country, or killed.
One area where Pakistan is a major player is in Afghanistan, which Pakistan considers within its sphere of influence. That is, other nations must consult with Pakistan before doing anything significant in or with Afghanistan. The Afghans are not happy with this attitude or the harmful Pakistan interference that has taken place over the last three decade.
The U.S. and Pakistan remain stalemated over the resumption of truck traffic from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and Pakistan is refusing to attack Islamic terrorists in North Waziristan (North Waziristan) or Quetta (Baluchistan). These two places have become the most dangerous terrorist sanctuaries on the planet but the Pakistani government refuses to shut them down. India also wants Islamic terror camps (run by groups specializing in attacks on India) in other parts of Pakistan eliminated. Again, Pakistan defies the world and refuses to act against the terrorists. The United States has shifted to a supply line to Central Asia and continues UAV attacks in North Waziristan, which the Pakistanis consider illegal. The U.S. has respected the Pakistani prohibition of UAV attacks in Quetta, despite repeated requests for permission to go after the Afghan Taliban leadership based there, along with many mid-level Taliban leaders. The U.S. could just go ahead and start hitting targets in Quetta and the Pakistanis could escalate by attacking the UAVs with missiles or F-16 fighters. But this could quickly escalate, and the Americans can do more damage to Pakistan than the other way around. The Pakistani leadership understands this. They also understand that their steadfast support for Islamic terrorists has made them an international pariah (except in Moslem states, where killing non-Moslems is still considered acceptable behavior, no matter what the rest of the world thinks).
In Pakistan self-delusion is a popular activity. For example, in Abbottabad, civilians will insist that bin Laden never lived there and that the American raid was all theater staged by the Americans to try and make Pakistan look bad. This attitude is not unusual in Pakistan, where delusions of victimization trump taking responsibility for your actions.
In northwest Pakistan two Taliban bombs, meant for pro-government tribal elders, went off and left five dead.
May 2, 2012: A year ago American commandos killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad.
In Pakistan's Sind province 16 small bombs went off, mostly near ATM machines. At least six people were wounded. The attack was carried out by a Sind separatist organization, recently revived after decades of being dormant. They believe an independent Sind province would be able to keep Pushtuns, and other foreigners, out of Sind and reduce the violence and lawlessness. There is not a lot of separatist support in Sind so these radicals will be more a nuisance than a threat.
May 1, 2012: Two car bombs went off in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), killing two people and wounding 16. Tribal rebels want more autonomy, and money, for Baluchistan.
April 29, 2012: In Pakistan's North Waziristan a U.S. UAV killed three Islamic terrorists with a missile.
A British aid worker, kidnapped last January, was found dead in Baluchistan. Unidentified kidnappers had demanded a large ransom, which was not paid.
April 27, 2012: Pakistan deported Osama bin Laden's three wives and their nine children, sending them to Saudi Arabia. One of the wives is from Yemen but she does not want to go there, as there is a civil war going on. Pakistan would not let the Americans interview the bin Laden wives or children. It's unclear if Saudi authorities will allow that either. The Americans want more information on how bin Laden and his family evaded detection in Pakistan for nine years. The wives may not have much useful information, as Islamic conservatives like their women submissive and out of the way. But two of the bin Laden wives have PhDs and are not stupid. They may know something but they may not have shared that with anyone yet.
April 25, 2012: Pakistan test fired a Shaheen 1A ballistic missile, apparently successfully. This missile is a new version of the Shaheen 1 and has a range of 1,500 kilometers. This test is believed to be a response to the recent (April 19th) Indian test of a missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers. That one was intended for China. What India has aimed at Pakistan is a new anti-missile system, built with the help of Israel.
April 24, 2012: Several days of high-level negotiations ended in failure as Pakistan continued to block NATO use of Pakistani roads to get cargo into Afghanistan.
This is because the U.S. refuses to apologize for a friendly fire incident last November which the Americans consider partly the fault of the Pakistanis. As a result, NATO and the U.S. have been moving supplies and equipment over the
Network (NDN) via Central Asia.
Three years ago nearly all land movement of supplies came in via Pakistan. But that changed after
26, because of a friendly fire incident on the Afghan border that left 24 Pakistani troops dead. The
In Pakistan the American apology is very important to anti-American politicians who have bet their reputations on casting the Americans as unrepentant villains. The Americans are mad about Pakistanis constantly denying that some factions of the Pakistani government and military openly support Islamic terrorists and provide very public terrorist sanctuaries for them in North Waziristan (for al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban) and Quetta (Afghan Taliban). The Pakistani corruption is also epic. The Americans thought they had a deal about the border crossings, by agreeing to a higher fee (bribe) per truck (over $1,000 per vehicle, mostly going into the pockets of Pakistani officials) but the generals and politicians want the Americans to admit that the November incident was all their fault and the Americans refuse to do that. The Pakistani officials will go back to squabbling among themselves for a bit and eventually take the larger bribes and the (by now much reduced) NATO truck traffic will resume. With the new bribes it's not much cheaper to bring in supplies via Pakistan versus the NDN (which is getting cheaper over time).
In Lahore, Pakistan a bomb went off in a train station, killing three people. Several hours' later police found and disabled a bomb on a train.