India-Pakistan: Safer Than A Combat Zone

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March 24, 2013: India is alarmed at growing Chinese investment in neighboring countries (like Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh). Chinese firms are more experienced and effective at arranging these foreign investments and India’s smaller neighbors feel more comfortable with investments from distant China rather than neighbor (and sometimes big bully) India. The Chinese economic investments often have military implications, like China building satellite ground stations in Sri Lanka.

Pakistan has played a major role in making China the fifth largest arms exporter on the planet. In 2008-2012 China exported $11.2 billion (in 2012 dollars) worth of weapons, 55 percent of it to Pakistan. China, like Russia before it, got sales by selling to outcast nations (Pakistan for developing nukes and supporting terrorism). The Chinese weapons are cheap and, according to Indian analysts, inferior to what India has.

The five year old Indian campaign against its leftist (Maoist) rebels in eastern states has reduced the power of the rebels and the territory they can safely operate in. The Maoist leadership has responded with calls for more recruiting and more violence against traitors and deserters. The Maoists have lost much of their popular support, in part because decades of violence has not improved the lives of the people much and in part because the government is finally doing something to improve rural infrastructure. Building roads, schools, and clinics has made a difference, even if corrupt local politicians and officials are continually weakening the effectiveness of those projects. The Maoists have become corrupt as well, with local leaders often behaving like gangsters. It’s feared that if the entire Maoist organization is destroyed, remnants will turn into well-organized bandits.

In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) soldiers have been unable to halt the fighting between the Pakistani Taliban and a pro-government militia (Ansarul Islam). The pro-government militia has been trying to push the Taliban out of the area and the Islamic terrorists are resisting and counterattacking. Nearly 50 have died in ten days of fighting.  

March 23, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) a suicide bomber killed six soldiers at a checkpoint.

March 22, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) an American UAV fired two missiles at a vehicle and killed three Islamic terrorists.

March 21, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories a Taliban car bomb was used against a refugee camp outside Peshawar, killing 13 people. The thousands of refugees in the camps had fled their homes in areas where the Taliban gunmen were actively fighting the army. The Taliban want the refugees to go home because the Taliban needs civilians (who can be coerced to provide food, shelter, and human shields). Some refugees are returning home because of these terror attacks, but most refuse to leave the camps, which are still seen as safer than a combat zone. The army is still under American and popular Pakistani pressure to attack and shut down the terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan. The generals refuse to act, believing that the terrorists would simply move across the border into Afghanistan, as some Taliban groups have already done to the north in places (like the Swat Valley) where troops have shut down Taliban camps. The core problem is that over three decades of army support for Islamic terror groups has created a lot of popular enthusiasm for these guys inside Pakistan. The army has created a monster that has become very resistant to attack, and many army officers believe that the Islamic radicals should receive more support from the military.

March 20, 2013: The Pakistani government admitted that Pakistan had, since 2009, been spending a third more on the military than was officially admitted. That meant in addition to the official annual military budget of $5.8 billion the government secretly added two billion dollars. The U.S. contributed another $1.9 billion in military aid, giving the military $9.7 billion. This is still less than a third of what India spends and for half a century it’s India that the Pakistani military had been preparing (not very successfully in four wars) to fight.

March 19, 2013: In Pakistan the military again vowed to deal with the terrorism problem. The military has been making this promise for most of the last decade, yet it still provides Islamic terrorists with sanctuaries in North Waziristan and Baluchistan. No mention was made to shut down terrorist operations in these areas.

March 18, 2013: Pakistan revealed that it had recently arrested Islamic terrorist Qari Abdul Hayee in Sind province. Hayee had been wanted since the 1990s for killing Shia and government personnel. Hayee is best known in the West for participating in the kidnapping and murdering (on video) American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. The U.S. accused Pakistan of being reluctant to round up all the terrorists involved because many of them were protected by ISI (Pakistani intelligence). Hayee belonged to a group that operated outside the tribal territories, often in Karachi. The police could not catch him for so long because there are millions of Pakistanis who support Islamic radicalism, despite the growing number of attacks on Pakistanis. But those attacks are eroding the support and Hayee was caught because of that (someone tipped off the police).

In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) two Taliban suicide bombers attacked a court compound. One attacker was shot dead but the other one detonated his explosives, leaving four dead.

The Pakistani Taliban leadership withdrew its offer to enter peace talks with the government. This came about because the government would not agree to halt attacks on terrorists (especially the UAV missile attacks) and the Taliban would not agree (as the government demanded) to disarm before talks, something the Taliban refused to even consider.

March 16, 2013: For the first time in the 65 year history of Pakistan an elected government has completed its full term without being replaced by a military coup. A new government will be elected on May 11th,the first time one elected government has succeeded another in Pakistan. In the last few months there has been much fear that there would be another coup because the military has been under unprecedented pressure to reform. Long believed to be a possible solution to Pakistan’s problems with corruption and inept government, public opinion now considers the military part of the problem. The military is seen as greedy, self-serving, and inept. What makes matters worse are the constant demands for more money and power in order to defend the country from imminent Indian attack. Most Pakistanis now see this Indian threat as largely an illusion. More and more Pakistanis have paid attention to what is going on in India, where Pakistan is considered a minor problem and China has officially become the major foreign threat. Pakistani military leaders are regarded as more interested in getting rich (by stealing from the Pakistani people) than in defending the nation. The military is seen as continuing to support Islamic terrorism, even as those terrorists increase their attacks on Pakistan. The military began supporting Islamic terrorists back in the 1970s, as a way to creat an effective weapon against India. That has not worked out well. Opinion polls show that the current majority party in parliament will lose that majority, and control of the government, because of their inability to make a dent in the corruption that cripples the economy and much else besides. A new government will make promises to make it all better, but few expect any new promises to be kept. Too many Pakistani politicians prosper because of the widespread corruption, and these fellows strenuously resist anti-corruption efforts.

The corruption problem is everywhere. It’s not just bribes. For example, many, or most, of the schools the government pays to operate are instead buildings used for residences or businesses. A more visible form of corruption is the looting of the national railways budget. As a result, most of the trains the railroad owns are inoperable because they have not been maintained. Local politicians take the money, and calls for investigations and prosecutions are ignored because so many officials in the government are sharing in the plunder.

In eastern India (Jharkhand State) Maoist gunmen attacked a rural village where most of the people had turned against the Maoists. Six villagers and at least one Maoist were killed before the police showed up.

 

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