India-Pakistan: A Dangerous Game


January 3, 2011: In Pakistan's southwest (Baluchistan), the tribes have accepted the fact that they cannot contend with the superior combat power of the army and police. So the separatists and Baluchi nationalists are increasingly using an assassination campaign to get their way. Government officials and pro-government tribal leaders are the targets. The government fights back mainly by arresting or killing separatist leaders, most of whom have now gone into hiding or fled the country. The end result is that there is not a lot of fighting in Baluchistan, but a lot of powerful people looking over their shoulders.

The more numerous and violent Pushtun tribes to the north have used the same tactics, but on a larger scale (as in going after national leaders anywhere in the country). The difference is that the Baluchis just want a Baluchistan, while the pro-Taliban Pushtun tribes want an Islamic dictatorship for the entire region. The Baluchi goals are, in theory, attainable and negotiable, the Taliban goals are neither. This can be seen in the growing anti-Taliban attitudes of the Pushtun tribes. As the Taliban kill or kidnap more Pushtun tribal leaders, the Pushtun push back. The Taliban idea of Pushtun tribesmen being Islamic heroes, and conquering the world, plays well in the tribal territories, especially among young guys with no job and in search of some action. But older and wiser tribal leaders know the truth, and playtime is coming to an end.

One of the key weapons against the Islamic radicals in the tribal territories has been the American CIA UAVs and missiles used to attack key (leaders and technical experts) personnel in the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In 2010 there were 120 such attacks, compared to 52 in 2009. There have been over 200 of these attacks since 2004, and the Islamic terror groups are terrified and unable to do anything to halt the attacks, or avoid them. Officially, the Pakistani government opposes the UAV attacks, but actually supports them. The CIA do the most damage to the terrorist groups that carry out bombings and assassination attempts (against senior Pakistani officials). The Pakistanis admit that the CIA attacks are the best way to disrupt the Islamic terrorism directed at Pakistani targets. So the politicians have it both ways. They condemn the attacks as a violation of national sovereignty,  but secretly facilitate the attacks in order to preserve national sovereignty (and prevent the Islamic radicals from taking over.)

The U.S. has had less success in getting the Pakistani leadership to shut down all the pro-Islamic radical officers in the ISI (Pakistan's military intelligence/CIA) and the military. The problem here is that the ISI and the military are a state within a state, with enormous financial holdings and lots of guys with guns. The spies and generals will fight to the death (so they say) to defend their honor (power and high standard-of-living). The Pakistani military and ISI see the Taliban as their primary tool for manipulating what goes on in Afghanistan, and essential to keeping the Pushtun tribes (40 million people on both sides of the border, most of them in Pakistan) under control. The Islamic radical groups also provide a means to attack India. While India threatens war over this, Pakistan believes that nuclear weapons on both sides of the border prevents that. By keeping tension high, the military and ISI can justify their large budget allocations. It's a dangerous game the Pakistani generals are playing.

The Indian Army continues to resist calls from the Interior Ministry to provide troops for operations against large Maoist combat organizations in eastern India. The military does not want to get involved in paramilitary operations like this, because this sort of thing is messy (dead civilians) and leads to bad publicity and political troubles. Meanwhile, the police and counter-terrorism units continue to chase down Maoist camps and leaders. This is doing damage to the leftist rebels, and could eventually destroy them.

December 29, 2010:  Pakistani troops opened fire on the Kashmir border, and Indian troops fired back. This went on for 45 minutes. The shooting began before dawn, apparently to help Islamic terrorists get across the border into Indian Kashmir. There was a similar incident yesterday, and there were fifty of them this year, and 150 in the last four years. Pakistan promised to stop this sort of thing in 2003, as part of an effort to work out a peace deal between India and Pakistan. The gradual resumption of violence has angered India, and the United States.





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