Attrition: Bloody Pakistan

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December 22, 2010: While Pakistan has been criticized for not going into the few remaining Islamic terrorist sanctuaries in their tribal territories, there has not been a lack of fighting this year. In 2009, 5,238 people were killed in the Pakistani tribal territories. Losses this year are on track to be nearly identical. The only difference is the number of Islamic radicals killed. Last year, they were 81 percent of the deaths, this year it is 85 percent. Deaths of civilians are down 23 percent and those among the security forces 32 percent.

The changes were largely the result of the army chasing down smaller Taliban and al Qaeda groups who thought they could remain outside the remaining sanctuaries (North Waziristan and Baluchistan). These Islamic radicals expected to regain control of civilian populations once the army went away, and wanted to stay around to remind the civilians who really had the power. But the security forces came after the bad guys, who were often more gangster that Holy Warrior.

Losses are somewhat larger across the border in Afghanistan, where heavily armed drug gangs subsidize a better equipped, and paid, Taliban. But not that much larger, as the wars on both sides of the border both involve Pushtun tribes fighting for power, as they have in this area for thousands of years.

 

 


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