India-Pakistan: Tribesmen Rattle Their Chains


August 6, 2007: Since Islamic militants lost control of a major mosque in Pakistan's capital last month, over 300 have died in battles between security forces and Islamic radicals and their tribal allies. Most Pakistanis have backed the military government in this, there being a long standing hostility against the Pushtun and Baluchi tribes along the Afghan border. The tribes are a small, but violent, minority in Pakistan, and most Pakistanis are tired of the unrest.

Another reason the military government in Pakistan remains in power is the economic prosperity it has presided over. GDP is up, and unemployment is falling (to 5.3 percent at the end of 2006). There is still growing distaste for the military government, but this is typical for Pakistani politics, where periods of military and elected government have alternated for the last sixty years.

In Bangladesh, police continue to hunt down and arrest Islamic terrorists, seizing bombs and documents. The terrorists have, for the moment, lost the support of most Bangladeshis, partly because of the frequent attacks against civilians by Islamic terrorists elsewhere, particularly Iraq.

August 5, 2007: In the Pakistani tribal areas, there continue to be daily attacks on the army checkpoints that are strangling commerce, and movement, in the tribal areas. The tribesmen take most of the casualties, despite many of the attacks being just rockets fired at the checkpoints. The rockets are unguided, and often hit nearby civilians. In one case, a suicide car bomber got sideswiped by another car, and the bomber detonated his explosives prematurely, apparently to avoid getting arrested. Several civilians were killed.

August 4, 2007: India extended the ban on the Maoists (a faction of the Communist Party of India) for another year. In the last three years, Maoist violence has killed over 10,000 Maoists, civilians and security personnel. Many leftist politicians are in favor of a negotiated peace with the Maoists (who want to establish a communist dictatorship in India.) But the Maoist violence has made all communists unpopular.

August 3, 2007: An Islamic terrorist was foiled when attempting a suicide bomb attack on a police training center in Punjab province, Pakistan. This is outside the tribal areas. One policeman was killed, in addition to the bomber.

August 2, 2007: In Pakistan's northwest tribal areas, the army is using its dozens of helicopters to reinforce checkpoints that come under attack. This causes high casualties for the tribesmen, who would otherwise have a numerical advantage.

August 1, 2007: In Kashmir, Indian troops fought a three day battle with a group of Islamic terrorists trying to sneak across the border from Pakistan. Two soldiers and eight terrorists were killed.

July 31, 2007: Islamic terrorists in Kashmir backed away from a call to expel all migrant workers in the region, once it was realized that such action was not popular.

July 30, 2007: Violence in the tribal areas has left several hundred dead or wounded in the last few days. Most of the casualties are among the security forces, who are manning roadblocks that restrict vehicle traffic in the tribal areas.




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