India-Pakistan: Taliban Offer To Be Annoying, Not Intimidating.


December 27, 2010:  The Taliban in Pakistan are in a panic. The American surveillance and UAV missile attacks are becoming increasingly effective. Taliban and al Qaeda groups have been unable to come up with an effective way to shut down the American intelligence effort that finds more and more targets (there have been about ten attacks a month this year). Currently, the most popular Taliban solution is to move bases to new areas. But tribes are not eager to host Taliban or al Qaeda bases. Not just because of the American missile attacks (which kill some civilians, largely because the terrorists try to use women and children for human shields), but because the Islamic radical groups are seen as nothing but trouble. True, these guys usually have money to spend, but they often get pushy about religious and lifestyle issues, and try to impose their will in tribal matters. This crap has been going on for several decades now, and the tribal leaders have no illusions about what a visit from the Taliban or al Qaeda means. So the Islamic radicals are now seriously considering trying to obtain foreign exile, at least for the senior leadership. Some of the wealthy Gulf states (like the UAE) already unofficially host several major Indian and Pakistani criminal organizations (who behave very well in their sanctuaries). But these Gulf States rely on the United States for protection from large neighbors, and would not risk that to provide a safe haven for terrorist leaders (not that some have not quietly hid out there in the past). But the Taliban are also offering disarmament, and transition to a purely political movement. Few believe this is possible. Taliban power comes from its eager use of force to impose its will. Taliban who just talk are annoying, not intimidating, and thus not real Taliban.

Years of escalating threats, bribes and diplomatic pressure have forced Pakistan to peel away the protections the Taliban, and other Islamic radicals, enjoyed in the tribal territories. Growing popular anger against the Taliban (who seem to go out of their way to offend, kill or annoy the maximum number of people) has made it easier for the Pakistani government (despite the large number of Islamic radicals, or fans, in the bureaucracy) to make it so. This has made Islamic radicals anxious, and fearful that they are losing power. They are.

Pakistan revealed that it had, in the last week, arrested Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani Network (a long time ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban) and its chief fundraiser. The arrest was made in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani police normally leave Islamic radical leaders alone. The Pakistanis admit they were acting in response to growing American pressure.

The Indian campaign against Maoist rebels is having some unintended (for the government) consequences. The extent of the corruption in the eastern states, especially the Maoist infested rural areas, is becoming a more common news story. The corruption, particularly at the local level, has long been a source of popular anger. School teachers, for example, are often political patronage jobs, meaning unqualified people get these jobs and often don't even bother to show up. This is a major reason for India having a higher illiteracy rate, and a hard time catching up with China economically. It also means that, with the national economy booming, many low level jobs lack qualified candidates because of the corruption in the education system. But it's not just education, it's every government operation that provides an opportunity for politicians to steal. These thieves are not as murderous or spectacular as the Maoists, but they are everywhere. This is why the Maoists, who oppose democracy, have so many supporters in the countryside. But the police offensive is finding enough country folk who oppose the Maoists (as just another bunch of bad guys) to obtain tips on who is where. Maoist related deaths this year are about 1,200.

Bangladesh border police, along the border with northeast India, have raided several ULFA (the largest Indian tribal rebel group in the area) bases and seized documents, weapons and large quantities of ammunition. Indian rebels often establish sanctuaries across the border. But India has been, with increasing success, negotiating deals that result in neighboring countries seeking out and arresting key rebel leaders, and turning them over to Indian police. India often does the same for their neighbors, as many foreign rebel groups hide out in India.

December 25, 2010: An Indian launch vehicle (carrying a large communications satellite) failed about a minute after takeoff. India has been developing its own satellite launch capability, and some failures like this are normal (and very expensive, even with insurance).

The Taliban took credit for using a female suicide bomber to kill 43 people assembled to receive free food in the tribal territories (Bajaur, an area where the Taliban were once strong, but have been driven out by the Pakistani army in the last year). The Taliban declared the attack was meant to punish the local Salarzai tribe for opposing them (with an armed militia), and denied that the bomber was a woman.  This was also seen as another attack on UN sponsored relief efforts, and food distribution operations in the area were halted. The Taliban see such foreign aid as an attack on Islam, and making people less dependent on the Taliban.

The Taliban have carried out about 250 suicide bomber attacks in the last four years, all of the bomber, until now, have been men. Using women is an escalation, and a sign of defeat. This was the pattern in Iraq, where the introduction of female suicide bombers signaled the end of the bombing campaign.

December 24, 2010: In Pakistan, over a hundred Taliban gunmen attacked five Frontier Corps checkpoints, but were repulsed. The Taliban lost 24 dead, the Frontier Corps lost eleven men. The numerous checkpoints restrict Taliban movement, and are often attacked in an attempt to intimidate the soldiers, or cause certain checkpoints to be removed.

Indian police believe that at least four Islamic terrorists have entered Mumbai as part of a attack plan. The four men are being sought.

December 23, 2010:  An American UAV missile attack near the Khyber Pass killed seven members of the Taliban travelling in an SUV.

December 21, 2010: Pakistan revealed that, with American electronic eavesdropping help, two senior al Qaeda leaders were arrested in Karachi last month. The government also confirmed that American UAV launched missiles had recently killed two British converts to Islam (who were "missing persons" back home, but believed to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan.)





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