India-Pakistan: Standing Back And Hoping For The Best


August 31, 2009: As police expand their search of Pakistan's Swat valley, looking for any remaining Taliban, they are finding that local tribal militias, who have openly declared war on pro-Taliban tribesmen, have been there first. Over two hundred bodies, of pro-Taliban men, have been found so far. Many local men in Swat sided with the Taliban, and participated in the brutal Taliban rule. These guys have not been able to get transport out of the area, because of all the army roadblocks, and the difficulty of going cross country for long distances. So the tribal militias are hunting down and killing known Taliban thugs.

The Taliban movement in Pakistan is also a business. While the Afghan Taliban have lucrative financial arrangements with the heroin gangs, the Pakistan Taliban get lesser amounts of cash by helping the heroin smuggling and distribution inside Pakistan, and into India and elsewhere in the region. Karachi, the largest port in Pakistan, is also a key smuggling conduit for heroin headed to the Persian Gulf. The heroin business in Pakistan is farmed out to whichever criminal gangs offer the best deals. It's all very competitive and businesslike. It's also very ruthless. Homicide is a common problem solving method. Many Pushtun tribesmen join the criminal gangs outright, rather than being Taliban mercenaries. The poor, illiterate and tough Pushtun tribesmen have long been prominent in the gangs. One reason the government was so eager to get millions of Afghan refugees to go home (which most now have) was to eliminate the many criminal gangs that formed among the unemployed Afghan Pushtuns. But the Pakistani Pushtun gangsters remain a problem. At one point, in the 1980s, it was thought that the establishment of hundreds of religious  schools in the tribal areas would reduce the number of gangsters. But instead, these schools gave rise to the Taliban and al Qaeda. All this is nothing new for the lowland people of Pakistan and northern India. The Pushtun tribes have been a problem for centuries.

The army has changed its mind about invading South Waziristan, the home of the pro-Taliban Mehsud tribe, and the core of Taliban power in Pakistan. The generals believe that the new Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, is such a hot headed terrorist thug, that more tribal factions (both Taliban and anti-Taliban) will rise up against him. Pakistani gunships and warplanes, along with American UAVs, will support the anti-Taliban tribesmen as they finish off the Islamic radicals in their midst. Or at least that's the plan.

Attacks on trucks carrying NATO supplies from Pakistan to Afghanistan have resumed. The cause is not a Taliban attempt to halt these supply movements, but local criminal gangs trying to force customs police to stop searching trucks crossing the border. The customs police have become more diligent lately, as part of a crackdown on smuggling via the two main highways between the two nations.

India has arrested the son of an ISI (Pakistani intelligence service) in northern India, and interrogation revealed that son and father were heavily involved in a Pakistani operation that produced counterfeit Indian currency in Lahore and Karachi, flew it to Nepal, and then smuggled it across the border into India, where it was sold at half the face value.

India has been conducting an offensive all Summer against Maoists in several eastern states. While successful, casualties among security personnel has been higher than expected. The Maoists have been aggressive in resisting police and army patrols.

August 30, 2009: Pakistani police arrested two more suspects in the terror attack in Mumbai India last November. This makes seven suspects that have been arrested, and that Pakistan says it will prosecute. India remains doubtful. In the Swat Valley, a suicide bomber got into a police training camp, and killed fifteen police trainees.

August 29, 2009: In Bihar, India, police captured a Maoist leader, who had recently ordered an attack that left five policemen dead.

August 28, 2009: Pakistani gunships attacked a small island in the Swat river, which was found to be a training camp for suicide bombers, and the source of three recent attacks. The gunships killed 18, including six suicide bombers in training. Troops came in after the attack to collect documents and other evidence.

August 27, 2009: In Torkham, Pakistan,  one of the major border crossings with Afghanistan, a terrorist bomb killed 22 border guards  gathered for the meal to break the Ramadan fast. A few hours earlier, U.S. Hellfire missiles from a UAV had killed at least eight Taliban.

In the eastern India state of Jharkhand, Maoists attacked the house where a suspected police informer lived, killing four civilians, including a child. For the last week, several Maoist bands have been on a rampage in the states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar, attacking several civilian targets. All this was to force the police to admit they had arrested two Maoist leaders, and to show that the Maoists would not be intimidated by the loss of the two leaders.

August 26, 2009: In southwest Pakistan, rebel Baluchi tribesmen blew up a natural gas pipeline. While this was quickly repaired, more attacks were promised. The Baluchis want a larger cut of the natural gas revenue. Most Baluchis don't want to set up a separate Baluchistan, because they fear being taken over by neighboring Iran (which already has a lot of Baluchi in its southeast). While most Pakistanis still fear an Indian invasion, in the southwest, Iran is the big bad. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have kept their violence out of Baluchistan, because the province has become a good base area. Many Baluchi tribesmen are willing to shelter Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, especially if it means much less terrorist violence in their territory.  




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