India-Pakistan: Chasing The Promise


November 17, 2012:  Most of Pakistan’s territory (Baluchistan in the southwest and the Pushtun tribal lands in the northwest) is slipping further out of government control. The Baluchi tribes want more autonomy and a larger share of the profits from natural gas wells on their territory. The Pushtun tribes are, as always, troublesome. Some of the Pushtun tribes have become dominated by Islamic radicals, who want to turn Pakistan into a religious dictatorship. Most Pakistanis (who live in Sind and Punjab provinces) do not want this. The peaceable majority have not been able to pacify the troublesome tribal minority. That’s a major difference between India and Pakistan and it has been going on since Pakistan was created in 1947 (and for centuries before that). This is one of the key problems Pakistan has, along with corruption and armed forces that refuse to subject themselves to civil authority. The original promise (of a separate Moslem state instead of Pakistan and Bangladesh being part of India) of peace, freedom, and prosperity never came to be.

In the last year over 60 Afghan civilians have been killed by Pakistani artillery fire directed at suspected camps of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan. Afghan protests have been ignored, and now the Afghans are firing back at where they believe the fire is coming from. That has apparently left some Pakistani civilians dead and the Pakistani military is insisting that the firing stop. Afghan commanders say they are ready to resist any Pakistani ground invasion, which would be the next step if this conflict continued to escalate. Afghanistan has long demanded that Pakistan stop offering sanctuaries for terrorists (Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network) who carry out attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always refused and continues to refuse. But in the last decade more anti-Pakistan Islamic terror groups have emerged in Pakistan and some of them have been driven across the border into remote areas of Afghanistan. There, the Afghans refuse to shut down these Pakistani terrorists unless the Pakistan army reciprocates. The Pakistanis refuse to do that and have been shelling suspected Pakistani terrorist camps in Afghanistan. This has killed some Pakistani terrorists but since these guys hide out in villages of kindred tribesmen, civilians are killed as well.

The Pakistani government is not backing an invasion of Afghanistan, despite the increasing aggressiveness of the Pakistani military against Afghanistan. This is another example of how differently the civilian and military leaders view Islamic terrorism and its consequences. When Osama bin Laden was killed by an American raid into Pakistan last year, most Pakistani politicians were initially jubilant. But the Pakistani military and Islamic radical politicians saw it as an attack on Pakistani sovereignty and that attitude has prevailed. Most Pakistanis fear the Islamic terrorists and their own military. In effect, most Pakistanis are subject to terrorism from the military and Islamic radicals (who have been supported by the military since the 1970s).

In an attempt to get peace talks with the Afghan Taliban going, Pakistan has agreed to release 13 of 40 Afghan Taliban leaders Afghanistan has asked to be freed. This is supposed to earn goodwill from pro-Taliban Afghan tribes and lead to Taliban groups halting their violence (in return for jobs and economic opportunities from the government). Many Afghan officials believe they can cripple the Taliban using the traditional tactics of tribal politics and bribery. Pakistan is keen to get some cooperation from Afghanistan in eliminating sanctuaries for Pakistani Taliban on the Afghan side of the border. Afghanistan sees no incentive to help with this as long as Pakistan maintains sanctuaries for anti-Afghan Taliban and Islamic terrorists.

The Indian offensive against Maoist rebels grinds on. Many Maoist leaders, after years of relative freedom from police pressure, are now constantly threatened with death or arrest. A growing number are surrendering. The Maoists still have nearly 10,000 armed men out in the bush and they continue to be a major threat to large rural industrial operations. Mining is a particular target, with the Maoists demanding protection money from the many smaller firms surrounding the mining complexes. Meanwhile, the government promotes its amnesty program, especially the retraining and employment opportunities for Maoist gunmen who surrender. As more former Maoists successfully make the move to a steady job, more Maoists are tempted to accept amnesty. The Maoist leadership is fighting back by murdering former Maoists and increasing the use of informers in its own ranks to spot those who might be considering leaving. Desertion from the Maoists is a capital offense and the death penalty is quickly applied.

November 14, 2012: In Pakistan (Rawalpindi) a retired colonel and military lawyer was attacked by six men (while stuck in a traffic jam) and beaten. Colonel Inam Ur Raheem had recently filed a lawsuit against the head of the army, questioning the legality of general Ashfaq Parvez Kayani extending his tenure three years in 2010. The army has long considered itself above the law and this illegal extension was yet another example. Beating critics is a warning by the army. If that doesn’t work, the critic will be murdered.

In Kashmir Indian troops caught five Palestinian terrorists crossing the border. A gun battle left three soldiers and two terrorists dead. Troops are searching for three other terrorists.

November 12, 2012: Pakistani army lawyers rejected a Supreme Court order that two retired generals be tried for vote fraud in the 1990 elections. This is seen as the army defying the authority of the courts and insisting that the army is above the constitution and control by an elected government. Since the army has more men with guns, who are willing to use those weapons to defy democracy, the army has always prevailed. In the last decade the army has also increased the pay and benefits for lower ranking soldiers, to ensure loyalty in cases like this. The officers, especially the higher ranking ones, have always been well treated. The army insists on receiving a large chunk of the national wealth. All this has become more widely known and the generals are being more careful with their public image, as the lower ranking troops are increasingly siding with the civilian voters.

November 11, 2012:  Pakistan and China have agreed to jointly market the Al Khalid tank. This vehicle is yet another variant of the Russian T-72 and is based on the Chinese T-90. Pakistan has been using it since 2001, and China has been selling it since then as the MBT-2000. Sales have not been brisk, and the main selling point is that it is cheap. Pakistan has never been a major player in the arms export business and this deal with China appears more for show than anything else.

November 10, 2012: In Karachi, Pakistan police finally managed to halt three days of fighting between Sunni and Shia religious extremists that has left 40 dead so far. The main instigator in this violence are the Sunni groups, and the Shia have responded by forming their own terrorists organizations to retaliate with.

In Baluchistan province (southwest Pakistan) Sunni terrorists killed three Shia men.

November 9, 2012: In Kashmir Indian troops caught six Palestinian terrorists crossing the border. A gun battle left four terrorists dead while the other two appear to have fled back into Pakistan.

In eastern India (Jharkhand) about 60 armed Maoists ambushed a police convoy carrying prisoners. Three policemen and a prisoner were killed, and 15 (of 32) prisoners escaped (including eight Maoists). Five policemen were wounded.

November 8, 2012:  In Karachi, Pakistan a Taliban suicide car bomber attacked a military base but was only able to kill himself and two others. Another thirteen bystanders were wounded by the failed attempt to get inside the base.

November 7, 2012: In the Pakistani tribal territory city of Peshawar, a suicide bomber killed a police commander and five bystanders.

November 5, 2012: The UN added the Pakistan-supported Haqqani Network to its list of international terrorists. All UN members are supposed to go after international terrorists, and Pakistan complied, on paper, by insisting that it was seeking to shut down the Haqqani Network. But that is not what is happening, as the Haqqani Network is still safe in North Waziristan.

The head of the Pakistani army openly warned the judges of the Supreme Court to not threaten the authority of the army.


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