India-Pakistan: Things That Cannot Be Said


June 30, 2009: India and Pakistan are still at odds over who will prosecute the terrorists responsible for the November 28, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Pakistan insists on trying them, but Pakistan has a track record of going through the motions, and cutting terrorists free after things quiet down. Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism, and refusal to admit it (even though Pakistan is openly at war with Islamic terror groups) continues to be the biggest unresolved dispute between the two nations.

In the Pakistani tribal territories, the Taliban have increased their attacks on girls schools. Because so many civilians fled the fighting, many of these schools are empty and unguarded. The Taliban come in and burn them down or blow them up. This angers most of the people in the area, but the Taliban pay more attention to how much media coverage they get, than to popularity polls. While most of the Taliban have been driven out of the Swat valley, there are still some left. Hiding in the hills, they mostly operate at night against civilian targets.

As the Pakistani army moves into North Waziristan, where Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, and his extended family, live,  The Taliban are responding with attacks on checkpoints and convoys. These operations do not hurt the army much, and are an attempt to terrorize the troops. But the overall success of the army against the Taliban tribesmen has reassured the troops that they can fight the Pushtun tribesmen and win. Casualties are running at about a thousand (killed, wounded and missing) a week (most of them tribesmen). The government claims 1,600 Taliban killed in the last two months, as well as 139 soldiers lost. Several hundred civilians have died as well, mostly from Taliban suicide bomber attacks against the government (which tend to kill more civilians.)

The Pakistani continue to use its superiority in aircraft and artillery, to overcome the ability of the Pushtun tribesmen to move through the hilly backcountry and set up ambushes. The U.S. UAVs in the area have been very useful to the Pakistani troops, so much so that the Pakistani government constantly pesters the U.S. to give them Predators of their own. But the Predators are in big demand, and the manufacturer cannot turn them out fast enough to satisfy everyone right away.

The army has blocked the major roads into the tribal territories, and is slowly moving towards the home compounds of Taliban leaders. This will force the families to flee, and cause morale problems among the fighters. If, at the end of the Summer, the rebel tribesmen have not given up, the army can continue the fight into the Winter, when the less well equipped tribesmen are at a disadvantage.

In the other tribal area, Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), there is much less violence, and much more concern about the growing number of drug addicts. There are believed to be half a million of them (five percent of the population, and growing at 100,000 a year). The cause is right across the border, in Afghanistan's Helmand province (where most of the worlds heroin comes from). The Baluchistan police aggressively patrol the border, and in the last three months alone have seized  2.3 tons of  heroin, 8.6 tons of  morphine, and 33.3 tons of  hashish.

Demonstrations continue in Indian controlled Kashmir, where Moslems are angry at police for over a decade of rough treatment. The police have been fighting Islamic terrorists, who used to have a lot more support from local Moslems. But most Kashmiris just want all the fighting to stop.

Kashmir has become a minor problem for India. About half the casualties are in the northeast, where several powerful tribes continue to fight Indian rule, and settlers from the rest of India. Casualties here are running at the rate of about 200 a month. That's more than three times the number of casualties in Kashmir. India continues to have problems with Maoist rebels, who cause more problems, and casualties, than do the Islamic terrorists in Kashmir.

June 29, 2009:  Near the Afghan border, 17 people died when a group of Taliban gunmen crossed through the territory of a Shia Pushtun tribe. The Taliban have, from the beginning, considered Shia heretics, and persecuted whenever they had the chance. But the Shia fight back, and in this case, fifteen Taliban died, as well as two Shia tribesmen.

In Peshawar, police found and defused a car bomb. This is the largest city in the tribal territories, and the center of government power in the area.  

June 28, 2009: For the first time, the Taliban claimed to have carried out an attack (a roadside bomb that killed two soldiers) in Indian Pakistan. Another new development, right across the border in Pakistani Kashmir, is terrorist attacks on Pakistani soldiers and police. For three decades, Islamic militants have been left alone in that area. But now, the army invasion of the tribal territories has enraged the majority Pushtun population up near the border (Line Of Control) between the two halves of Kashmir.

In Karachi, Pakistan, five political activists were murdered, causing large crowds to gather and complain of poor police protection.

June 27, 2009: Pakistani police arrested the family of Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. The family was living in Peshawar, the largest city in the tribal territories. Normally, Taliban leaders keep their families in a fortified compound out in the country. Grabbing the family of an enemy leader is an ancient custom in this part of the world.

June 26, 2009: In Karachi, Pakistan, police cornered and killed five Taliban (who had been raising money by robbing banks.)

June 25, 2009:  An aide to Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud took credit for the murder of another Mehsud tribal leader who opposed Baitullah Mehsud. Any tribal leader who opposes Baitullah Mehsud is now on notice that assassins will come after them.  The brother of the dead man said his family would continue to try and kill Baitullah Mehsud, but would also continue its terrorist operations against foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government is trying to encourage such feuds among pro-Taliban tribal leaders. As Pakistani troops advance into North Waziristan, other tribes are given the option of sitting this battle out. The army is mainly interested in the Mehsud tribe. Some tribes take the offer, some don't.

June 24, 2009: U.S. UAVs attacked a funeral for a Taliban leader, and used four Hellfire missiles to kill nearly 80 people. Several senior Taliban leaders were killed, but not supreme leader Baitullah Mehsud.




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