India-Pakistan: The Demonization And Corruption Never Cease


July 28, 2011: Several weeks of Pakistani military and police operations in the tribal territory (Kurram) has triggered more violence between Shia and Sunni tribes in the area (who have been fighting each other for a long time anyway). Military operation in this area has caused over 100,000 people to flee across the nearby Afghan border, to refugee camps the UN has quickly set up. Kurram had become a favorite new Islamic terrorist hideout, especially for the Haqqani Network. That's because several years of Pakistani military and U.S. CIA UAV attacks have driven many Islamic radicals out of other districts bordering Afghanistan (like North Waziristan). The tribes in Kurram quickly lost patience with the heavily armed and self-righteous militants and called up the tribal militias to work with the military to drive the Islamic radicals out.

While Pakistan is making an effort to drive Islamic terrorists out of Kurram, and other border districts, they still refuse to move on North Waziristan, which has long been the headquarters, and safe-haven, for many Islamic terror groups. While Pakistan allows the Americans to use their UAVs to hunt down and kill Islamic terrorists in North Waziristan, Baluchistan (where the leadership of the Afghan Taliban hide out in plain sight) is still off limits. The Pakistani strategy appears to be one of confining the Taliban, and Islamic radicals in general, to North Waziristan and Quetta (the largest city in Baluchistan). But Pakistan, which has been supporting Islamic terrorists since the 1970s, as a weapon against India (and any other nations that are troublesome), flatly refuses to make an effort to remove all Islamic terrorists from its territory. Only those who attack the Pakistani government are prosecuted constantly.  Those who planning to attack in the West or India, are likely to be left alone.

Fleeing to Afghanistan is not a good option for terrorists based in Pakistan, because there you have to worry about raids, as well as air attack. The Afghans have no safe-havens for Islamic terrorists. In Kurram, the terrain and some armed resistance, has delayed the security forces sufficiently to allow terrorist camps and bases to be moved, some of them to Afghanistan. There, the terrorists are easier to detect and attack, and that is what is happening.

One of the many indignities the Pakistani military has been subjected to since September 11, 2001, occurred recently as the military was forced to reveal details of the military budget (about $10 billion a year, a third of the government budget). The largest expenditure (over half the budget), is pay. This includes pensions, which were moved to the civilian budget years ago, and are believed to be several billion dollars a year. The armed forces have 600,000 personnel, compared to a million in the Indian forces, But India has six times as many people, and spends three times as much on defense. Thus the Pakistani troops are much less well armed and equipped. The Pakistani forces are best equipped for fighting terrorists and the Pakistani population in general, not the Indian military. The weaker economy in Pakistan makes the military an important jobs program. The Pakistani military has been more successful at keeping the unemployment rate down, than it has been at fighting the Indians.

 There's a lot of corruption in the Pakistani defense budgets, and the revelation of budget details makes it possible to identify the thieves and how much they are stealing. Fortunately, for the military, there is a tradition of threatening or killing journalists who try to publicize anything the generals would prefer to remain secret.  While politicians call for a smaller defense budget (and military), so that money will be available for health and education (things that Pakistan spends very little on, compared to world standards), the generals and their thugs still have a veto on that sort of thing. Meanwhile, the generals demand more money so they can try to keep up with India, which is upgrading its forces much faster than Pakistan (because it spends more than five times as much per soldier as Pakistan). For this reason, the Pakistani generals are desperate to hang onto the American military aid. Although China says it will replace the United States as a supplier of advanced military technology, China is not willing to give (as in "for free") Pakistan equipment, nor can it yet supply stuff as advanced as the American gear. Moreover, China has been the major supplier of military gear to Pakistan for decades, and always expected to get paid. Free aid was miniscule, and still is (and often consists of Chinese discards).

While Pakistan wants American military aid, and needs the economic aid, the country is still overwhelmingly anti-American. This is despite the fact that America is the most popular destination for migrating Pakistanis. What is happening here is a typical tactic in poor, corrupt nations run by a very small segment of the population. To pull that off, you need an external enemy, to distract the people from more serious problems closer to home. So the U.S. is depicted as an enemy of Islam and Pakistan, and that all the foreign aid is an attempt to buy Pakistani friendship (which, of course, is not for sale.) While the Pakistani media considers itself free, it actually lives in terror of the military, and especially the intelligence agencies (the ISI). So the media generally toes the party line, and competes to be the most anti-American.  But for this sort of scam to work, you cannot get involved in a real war with your external bogeyman. Thus when America gets angry at Pakistan, Pakistan backs off. But the demonization and corruption never cease.

Last year's floods in Pakistan, which left over 20 million homeless, drew lots of foreign aid money and personnel. There are still a million flood victims who are homeless, but now Pakistan is harassing foreign aid workers, and preventing them from entering the country, as part of the post-Osama bin Laden raid paranoia. Foreign aid workers are suspected of being part of foreign spy networks. The real reason the government wants to keep foreign aid workers out is because a major function of those foreigners is to keep foreign aid money and goods from being stolen by Pakistani officials. Such thefts are particularly common in Pakistan, so much so that foreign aid donors insist on close supervision of cash and goods given. This reduces, but does not eliminate, the stealing. It's increasingly common for all foreign aid to Pakistan to come with auditors and mandatory accounting for who got what.

Growing anger in the Pakistani immigrant community, especially in the United States, has led to a publicizing of the role of the ISI (the Pakistani CIA) in using threats (usually against kin back in Pakistan) against critics of the Pakistani government living in the West. Turns out that the United States has been trying, quietly, to get the ISI to back off on this sort of thing, but the ISI refused to do so. Some of the expatriate Pakistanis threatened are now American citizens, and insisted that something be done.

Thefts from U.S. supply shipments (via the Pakistani port of Karachi, thence by road north) to Afghanistan, and Pakistani threats to cut this supply line, has led to  something the Pakistanis do not like. Over the past few years, the U.S. and NATO have been bringing in more supplies via the north. Now, about 40 percent of supplies are arriving via the "Northern Distribution Network". The U.S. is rushing to move 75 percent of cargo via the northern route by the end of this year, and all of it within a year. It took five years to negotiate unfettered transit rights for NATO military cargo via Russian and Central Asian railroads. This will cost Pakistani port and transportation firms over $100 million a year, and greatly reduce the theft.

The violence continues in the Pakistani port of Karachi. But weeks of police efforts (and reinforcements) have reduced the mayhem. Nationwide, Pakistan continues to suffer 5-6 as many deaths from terrorists and rebels as does India (with six times the population.) In other words, adjusting for population, Pakistan is 30 times as violent as India, at least when it comes to terrorist and rebel caused deaths. Such deaths in Pakistan are running at the rate of 7,000 a year.

July 27, 2011: In Pakistan, in the Mohmand district, north of the Kurram district, five remotely controlled bombs went off, killing three and wounding fifteen.

July 23, 2011: The Pakistani government revealed that they had recently captured a senior Pakistani Taliban intelligence official (nicknamed Qari Zia Rahman) in a village outside the capital. Qari Zia Rahman was in charge of the Taliban effort to find and kill American and Pakistani informants in the tribal territories. These informants are part of a large network that provides target data for American UAV missile attacks.





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