India-Pakistan: The Most Violently Intolerant


October 13, 2011: It's still a minority voice, but there is a growing call from Pakistani politicians and journalists for rethinking Pakistan's official place in the world. There is a questioning of the traditional (since the founding of Pakistan in 1948) view that India and the non-Moslem world in general is conspiring to destroy Pakistan. Note that this attitude is incorporated in the name of Pakistan, which means "land of the pure," as in religiously pure.  Based on economic, cultural and military performance, this approach has not worked. Pakistan is a mess, and old ideas are being reexamined. There is resistance to this questioning of traditional practices. There always is. This could get very messy.

The Taliban have become a problem on both sides of the border. Part of the problem is that there is no one Taliban organization, as there was from the mid-1990s until 2002. After being chased out of Afghanistan in late 2001, the Taliban fragmented. There are over two dozen factions now. In Pakistan, the local Taliban is a coalition of 13 groups, plus the allied Haqqani Network. The Afghan Taliban is also a coalition, but officially is just one organization run by leadership in Quetta, Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan). Thus there is no one in command of the entire Taliban, making it very difficult to negotiate with "the Taliban." You have to talk to the factions, which goes on all the time, on both sides of the border.  In southern Afghanistan, the Taliban still enjoys some popularity, if only because of the economic benefits created by Taliban alliances with drug gangs. But for the majority of Afghans, the Taliban are terrorists and gangsters. In Pakistan, the local Taliban are respected only by some people in the tribes the factions are recruited from. Most Pakistanis hate and fear the Taliban because of the thousands of Pakistanis killed by Taliban sponsored terrorism. This is why many Pakistanis are beginning to question the long-time support their government has provided to Islamic radical groups like the Taliban.

The controversy over Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism masks yet another national travesty; religious persecution. Each year, thousands of Pakistanis, mainly Christians and Shia Moslems, are killed, kidnapped, raped or imprisoned on false charges of blasphemy against Islam. Pakistan is a leader in this kind of religious violence, although Islamic nations, in general, tend to be the most violently intolerant.

Pakistan and the United States are going through a rough patch. Many Pakistanis believe they are being bullied by the United States, which demands that Pakistan attack Haqqani Network bases in North Waziristan, cooperate with U.S. intelligence on counter-terror efforts, pay more attention to human rights, enforce the income tax laws (and make the rich pay), eliminate subsidies, especially for petroleum products, eliminate special laws for well-connected businesses and eliminate religious persecution. Many of these things have long been sought by Pakistanis, but coming from foreigners, it is seen as bullying.

Pakistan agrees to some of the demands, but usually quietly and unofficially. Thus Pakistani police are again arresting terrorist suspects identified by the United States and sharing some information. The Pakistani government has toned down criticism of U.S. UAV operations in Pakistan. Note that the Pakistan government never went so far as to try and ban the UAVs, and the U.S. never went after targets in areas (especially Baluchistan) that Pakistan had placed off limits. These sanctuaries are still something that the U.S. is trying to persuade the Pakistanis to eliminate. That, and getting Pakistan to send troops into North Waziristan. This part of the tribal territories, plus the city of Quetta in the southwest are two quite open and obvious sanctuaries for Islamic terrorists in Pakistan. The U.S. continues to make a lot of noise about this, and the Pakistani leadership is not happy with this kind of attention.

The American demands have hit a number of sensitive nerves, especially the police corruption. In Baluchistan, the locals are not happy with how the government is dealing with tribal separatists (seeking more autonomy and a larger share of natural resources income). The police kidnap anyone suspected of anti-government attitudes, and often murder the suspects. Police often misbehave in other parts of the country, but it is worst in Baluchistan.

Bangladesh has indicted a leader of the largest Islamic political party for war crimes committed during the 1971 civil war with West Pakistan (back when Bangladesh was East Pakistan.) Many current Islamic religious leaders were young Islamic militants in 1971, and supported West Pakistani efforts to suppress separatist activity in East Pakistan. Pakistan (then West Pakistan) was always more into Islamic radicalism than Bangladesh, and the local Islamic radicals are still considered a danger. That's one reason why there is a lot less Islamic terrorism in Bangladesh than in Pakistan. Another reason is that the Islamic clergy of Bangladesh never became as radicalized as their counterparts in Pakistan. Part of this was due to history and culture, partly to closer ties between Pakistan and the oil-rich Arab states in Arabia. A lot of that oil money went into funding conservative Islamic missionaries, and a lot more of those missionaries went to Pakistan than to the less hospitable Bangladesh. While not all Pakistanis agree with their conservative, and often radical, Islamic clergy, there is tremendous social pressure to keep quiet about such disagreements.

In Karachi, Pakistan, months of heavy police and paramilitary presence has reduced the religious and political violence. But people are complaining that police raids are increasingly leading to the arrests of innocent people, who are then asked to pay a bribe to be released.

China and Pakistan have increased their spending on planning for a railroad between the two countries. For Pakistan, this would require building a 750 kilometer line in the mountainous northwest, to the 4,730 meter (14.663 feet) Khunjerab Pass. There, China will have laid track for its own national railroad system, which gives Pakistan access to all of Eurasia.

October 12, 2011: In North Waziristan, an American UAV used Hellfire missiles to kill three Islamic terrorists; one of them was a key leader (in charge of logistics) for the Haqqani Network. To address U.S. demands that Pakistan drive Haqqani out of North Waziristan, the Haqqani Network has announced that it has moved to Afghanistan. No one believes this.

October 11, 2011: In northwest Pakistan, a meeting between a local provincial governor and tribal leaders was interrupted by two RPG rockets fired at the group. One person was killed and four wounded. The Taliban was suspected, as they regularly try to kill pro-government tribal leaders.

In Indian Kashmir, a tip led troops to an Islamic terrorist hideout. There was a gun battle and two terrorists were killed and one arrested. One of the dead men turned out to be a terrorist leader, and the longest surviving (since 1989) Kashmir Islamic terrorist on record.

October 9, 2011:  In northwest Pakistan, another raid by Taliban based in Afghanistan, resulted in at least 30 of the attackers being killed by Pakistani troops and police.

In India, two civilian technicians working for the military were arrested and charged with spying for Pakistan. Both countries have networks of paid agents in each other's countries, collecting all manner of information on military and security matters.

October 7, 2011: In eastern India, three police were killed by a Maoist mine.

October 6, 2011: Outside the Pakistani capital, banned terror group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan held a public rally in support of government refusal to give in to American demands to be more active against Islamic terrorists. 




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close