India-Pakistan: Sympathy For The Devil

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November 7, 2013: Most Pakistani politicians are openly criticizing the recent U.S. UAV missile attack that killed the head of the Pakistani Taliban. At the same time, the Pakistani government insists it will continue trying to hold peace talks with the Taliban. This is difficult because the Taliban has demanded more and more concessions and continued to carry out terror attacks. The Taliban also demanded that the army withdraw from the tribal territories, release 4,000 imprisoned Taliban, and stop the American UAV operations before talks begin. The army refused to do any of this, although some political leaders were willing to at least negotiate these demands. The army had earlier insisted that peace talks could only take place if the Taliban disarmed first and the Taliban refused that as well.

Most people closest to the Taliban (the army and most of the population in the tribal territories) believe such negotiations are futile. The Taliban have broken every peace agreement they have ever made and openly state that their goal is Islamic rule in all of Pakistan and nothing less. The decades of government sponsored propaganda supporting the use of Islamic law (sharia) and support for Islamic conservatives has caused this problem, where most Pakistanis, who have no close contact with the Taliban, still see the these Islamic terrorists as reformers, not fanatical killers bent on establishing a harsh religious dictatorship in the country. The Pakistani leaders caused this problem and are finding that solving it can’t be done quickly. Yet most Pakistanis still support peace talks with the Pakistani Islamic terrorists (especially the Taliban), despite the Taliban admission that it considers such negotiations a tactical tool to gain some advantage and eventually impose a religious dictatorship.

Westerners find all this hard to believe, but you need only peruse Pakistani media (plenty of it has English language versions) to see the twisted logic in action. Army leaders are being increasingly outspoken in their criticism of these peace efforts. The army is convinced that the terrorists have no intention of negotiating anything other than the elimination of democracy in Pakistan. A majority of Pakistanis oppose that, although a large minority would back such a move. The government says it will go along with army plans to use more force against the Islamic terror groups but only after the civilian leadership is convinced that negotiations are impossible. India believes that all Pakistan wants to negotiate is a deal whereby Islamic terrorists stop attacking inside Pakistan while being allowed (and supported) to continue attacks outside the country (especially India and Afghanistan). Pakistan will never admit this, although this has, for all practical purposes, been government and army policy for decades.

Several leaks of secret documents in the last year have made it clear that the Pakistani government was trying to have it both ways with regard to the American use of UAVs to hunt down and kill Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. Officially, the government (along with many politicians and journalists) condemn this UAV use as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty and murder of innocent Pakistanis. The classified documents and communications tell another story, that the Pakistani politicians are all for this effective and selective campaign against terrorists. Now there’s another deception in play, a report by a UN official that the UAV attacks have secretly killed thousands of civilians. What does not get reported much is how this is part of a deliberate and often quite successful media deception campaign. This is all because of a successful terror campaign against Pakistani journalists and exploitation of the culture of corruption in Pakistan. This is something few Pakistanis like to discuss, much less admit to.

November 6, 2013: China refused to make any official comment on Indian claims that China is building a radar station near the border opposite the Indian state of Ladakh (northwest India). India claims this radar is meant to monitor the increased activity of the Indian Air Force in that area,

November 5, 2013: For the first time in five years (because of border disputes) China and India held 10 days of joint anti-terrorism exercises. This event was held in southwest China (Sichuan Province) Each nation sent 150 soldiers who are showing each other their drills and procedures (hand signals, radio protocols, combat formations, and methods) so that if both nations are involved in a counter-terrorism situation their troops will be better able to operate together. These exercises were agreed to in 2007 and were to happen each year. But it only worked for two years before Chinese actions over their claims on Indian territory caused the exercises to be cancelled.

November 4, 2013: In Pakistan a court granted former president (and retired head of the Pakistani military) Pervez Musharraf bail. This was for the charge that he was responsible for the death of a radical Pakistani cleric (Abdul Rashid Ghaz) in 2007. Ghaz was killed, along with a hundred of his followers, when the army attacked the “Red Mosque” in the capital. That mosque compound had become a base for more and more radical activity in the capital. Musharraf had been arrested on this charge on October 10th, the day after he had finally received bail on the last (of three) charges he had previously been arrested on. Musharraf has been held under house arrest for six months now, ever since he returned from years of exile.

November 3, 2013: India is seeking to lease another Russian nuclear submarine. This was prompted by the recent loss of a Russian made Kilo sub to an accidental explosion and continuing delays in building new diesel-electric and nuclear subs in India. India has offered to supply the cash to complete an Akula class nuclear sub that Russia halted work on in the 1990s because of money shortages. Once completed (in about four years), the sub would enter Indian service. All this would cost India about a billion dollars. This would be the third time India leased a Russian nuclear sub.

November 2, 2013: In Pakistan (North Waziristan) the Pakistani Taliban selected a new leader (Mullah Fazlullah) to replace the recently killed Hakimullah Mehsud. Foreigners have been surprised at how Pakistani politicians and the media complained about the Americans killing Mehsud. There should have been no surprise because Mehsud was widely considered a butcher, especially compared to earlier Taliban leaders. In the four years that Mehsud ran the Taliban, he increased the use of assassinations against journalists and politicians who were most critical of the Taliban. Mehsud also increased attacks against civilians, including targeting women (as in the attacks against the female volunteers providing polio vaccinations for children). In short, Mehsud was much feared and the public grief was to show support for the new leader of the Taliban and who did not deserve to be killed. The new leader has a similar reputation as Mehsud, is a highly effective preacher (especially on illegal radio stations), and managed to rule the Swat Valley for several months as an "Islamic state". This was a disaster with the people of Swat, who welcomed the army when it returned in 2007 and again in 2009. Mullah Fazlullah violated a peace deal he had agreed to and fled to Afghanistan in 2009 and has been on the run ever since, with a $5,000 reward (from Pakistan) for his capture or death. Mullah Fazlullah moves back and forth across the border and believes in terrorizing civilians and has no problem with killing women and children. Mullah Fazlullah is opposed by Taliban factions that are less vicious and violent and more interested in negotiating a peace deal with the government. But for the moment the hardliners dominate the senior Taliban leadership.While Mullah Fazlullah believes that the Taliban ought to succeed simply for religious reasons (Islam is the cure for all Pakistan’s ills, something that has much public support) he also believes violence is justified in making Islam supreme in Pakistan. Another big problem is that Mullah Fazlullah is not a member of the Mehsud tribe, which was key in organizing the Pakistani Taliban (which is very much a coalition). Mullah Fazlullah is considered less capable than the two Mehsuds who came before him and there is expected to be some violent opposition within the leadership to settle disagreements over who should lead the Taliban in the meantime. 

In eastern India (Andhra Pradesh) police commandos, acting on a tip, found a Maoist camp in a rural area and seized it. One Maoist was killed but at least 30 more were able to flee, leaving behind a lot of equipment.

October 31, 2013: Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by an American missiles fired from a UAV. Four other Taliban members died in the attack. Mehsud was in one of the buildings of a luxurious country estate he bought in 2012. Locals considered this a wise investment because the new Mehsud home was a kilometer away from the local (for North Waziristan) army headquarters. The soldiers living and working nearby also felt a bit safer with the head of the Taliban and his family so close. The Taliban were visibly angry at the way Mehsud was killed and vowed revenge. This usually means that a lot of Pakistanis were going to die. In response to that, most Pakistani politicians, out of conviction or concerns for their own safety, criticized the American attack that killed Mehsud. The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for information that led to the death or capture of Mehsud. The U.S. never reveals who, if anyone, collects these rewards but it is known that someone often does and there are a growing number of families in the tribal territories who disappear quietly, leaving no forwarding address. 

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh state) police clashed with armed Maoists and killed two of them. Two assault rifles were seized after the battle.

October 30, 2013: In Pakistan the military, responding to a request from parliament about how many Islamic terrorists and civilians had been killed by American UAV missile attacks, reported that, by their count, the Americans had killed 2,160 terrorists and 67 civilians in 317 attacks since 2008. This angered many politicians, who had been led to believe (by recent media reports and government estimates) that the number of civilian deaths was much higher (400 or more).

In the Pakistani tribal territories (South Waziristan) a roadside bomb killed five soldiers and wounded several others.

Indian troops patrolling the LoC (Line of Control with Pakistan) in Kashmir came under fire and one soldier was wounded. It was unclear if the fire came from Pakistan or from Islamic terrorists inside Kashmir.

October 29, 2013: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) rebel tribesmen killed a pro-government tribal leader and six members of his family (two adult men, two women, and two children).

October 28, 2013: A Pakistani AH-1 helicopter gunship crash landed in the tribal territories near the Afghan border. The two man crew walked away but the damage to the AH-1 was visible and extensive. The AH-1 crashed because of a mechanical failure, not ground fire. Pakistan has about 40 of these aircraft and they have been very effective against Islamic terrorists in the territories.

In Kashmir gunfire from the Pakistani side of the LoC killed an Indian officer.

October 27, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) military vehicles suffered three different roadside bomb attacks. One of the bombs killed a soldier.

Husain Haqqani, the former (2008-2011) Pakistani ambassador to the United States, revealed that he has a book coming out in which he will join the growing number of senior Pakistani officials (usually retired) who agree with the growing accusations that the Pakistani military and intelligence services (the ISI) have long supported Islamic terrorists. This has been going on since the late 1970s and has long been an open secret that the government, and most of the media, deny. But it has brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war more than once and is still a major obstacle to achieving a lasting peace with India. 

October 26, 2013: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a roadside bomb killed two soldiers.

October 25, 2013: In eastern India (Jharkhand) police arrested a known Maoist supporter and found him carrying 41 kg (90 pounds) of explosives and some detonators on his motorcycle. A known associate of the arrested man managed to flee.

In northwest India (just south of Kashmir and near Amrisar) an Indian border police patrol caught three Pakistanis trying to smuggle drugs (24 kg/53 pounds of heroin) and other contraband (weapons and ammo) into India. This is a favorite area for smugglers because Kashmir is too heavily patrolled and this part of the border is largely uninhabited. The three smugglers resisted and were killed in a gun battle. The heroin comes from Afghanistan and many Pakistani smuggling gangs make a lot of money moving the heroin into Pakistan and then out to markets all over the world.

 

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