For most of the last decade the majority (54 percent recently) of terrorist activity has occurred in three countries; Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. What these three nations have in common is a powerful minority (Sunni Arabs in Iraq, Pushtuns tribes in Afghanistan and more Pushtuns and non-tribal Islamic radicals in Pakistan). The violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is linked by the presence of Pushtuns in both countries. But Pushtuns are a large minority (40 percent) in Afghanistan while in Pakistan Pushtuns are only 15 percent of the population. In some respects the Pushtun sponsored terrorist violence is yet another attempt by the Pushtuns to carve out their own state. These efforts have failed for thousands of years but the Pushtuns keep trying. Thus 22 percent of all recent terror related deaths on the planet were caused by the Afghan and Pakistani branches of the Taliban, a largely Pushtun organization organized by Pakistani intelligence two decades ago. Al Qaeda, now mainly semi-independent franchises, accounted for about as many. Al Qaeda also had its start in Pakistan, in the aftermath of the war against Russian troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s. While al Qaeda was largely an Arab organization, it’s links with Pushtun Islamic terrorists go back to the 1980s and have persisted. So not only is most terrorist activity on the planet related to Islamic radicalism, but most of that can trace its origins back to Pakistan, where a military government in the late 1970s decided to back Islamic radicalism as a cure for corruption and bad government. That did not work out as planned and the aftereffects are still being felt.
Indian radicals are less successful. Indian police pressure and amnesty offers are encouraging more Maoist gunmen and leaders to surrender. The Maoists are under even greater pressure from progress in addition to an army of over 100,000 police light infantry and counter-terrorism specialists. In the last decade rural India, where the Maoists have survived for decades, has been transformed by the growth in roads (600,000 kilometers of them) and cell phones (over 300 million more). The roads and cell phones have transformed and improved life in the rural areas. There’s more food, income and economic opportunities. There’s still a lot of corruption and inept government but the better transportation and communication opportunities have made the Maoist promise of a socialist dictatorship much less appealing. The Maoists find themselves opposing the roads and cell phones, partly because these new features make it easier for the security forces to get around and get tips from civilian informants. But the growing economic opportunity does not serve the Maoist goal of establishing a centrally planned economy that would crush free enterprise and individual entrepreneurs. The cell phones have made more people aware of other options and the Maoists cannot compete.
December 31, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) three Islamic terrorists were killed when the bomb they were installing in a cart went off prematurely. Elsewhere in the tribal territories (North Waziristan) soldiers and Taliban gunmen continue fighting, the result of several terrorist attacks on troops in the area. The army allows North Waziristan to serve as a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists on the understanding that the few troops and government officials in the area (mainly in or just outside the main towns) are not attacked. But the many Islamic terrorist factions are not all playing by the same rules and there are still attacks despite the unwritten truce arrangement. The current round of violence is meant to reestablish the truce by killing the misbehaving terrorists.
December 30, 2013: In Pakistan police found 2 kg (4.5 pounds) of explosives, other bomb components and firearms in a house former president (and retired head of the Pakistani military) Pervez Musharraf would take on his drive to court (where he is fighting a treason charge) on January 1st. Musharraf is threatening to testify against other generals if the military does not persuade the government to halt efforts to prosecute Musharraf for crimes committed during the last period of military rule (1999-2008).
A meeting between the leaders of the border troops of Pakistan and India resulted in an agreement to not do any work on border defenses without getting agreement from the other country. This will eliminate one cause of frequent shooting across the border.
December 28, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Bajaur) three mortar shells fired from Afghanistan landed and killed one civilian. Pakistan complained to Afghanistan which in turn accuses Pakistan of being far more frequently the aggressor by firing into Afghanistan.
In the Pakistani tribal territories Taliban gunmen attacked on a polio vaccination team in a hospital and killed a health officer and wounded two hospital staff. The gunmen fled before police could arrive. Islamic terrorist attacks on polio vaccination efforts has led to more cases of polio in Pakistan this year (72) than last year (58). Many Taliban believe the polio vaccination effort is really a foreign plot to poison Moslem children.
In Karachi, Pakistan gunmen fired on the convoy of a senior Shia religious leader but only managed to kill two bodyguards.
December 27, 2013: In southwest Pakistan (Quetta) a gunman shot dead an Afghan Taliban commander. Quetta has, for over a decade, been a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan will not even allow American UAV attacks in this area. The Taliban blamed Afghanistan for the killing, insisting that Afghan Army intelligence had organized a network of spies and assassins in Quetta. No one took credit for the hit.
December 25, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) an American UAV fired missiles at a compound and killed three Islamic terrorists.
China has agreed to provide $6.5 billion in financing and technical assistance in building another nuclear power plant in Pakistan. China played a similar role for Pakistan’s other three power plants. The new plant will cost $9.6 billion and the government will have to provide the rest of the money.
December 24, 2013: For the first time in 14 years the commanders of the armed forces from India and Pakistan met to discuss violence along their border in Kashmir. This follows a pact in November where Pakistan agreed to observe the 2003 ceasefire with India. This meeting is largely the result of a new commander of the Pakistani armed forces taking over and replacing a man who was much more hostile to India and who encouraged more violence on the border. The November agreement, backed by Pakistani civilian leaders, had initially worked to reduce the incidents of Pakistani troops firing into India. India accused Pakistan of breaking this agreement with increasing frequency this year. Dozens of Indian border posts along the LoC (Line of Control which separates Indian and Pakistani held Kashmir) have been fired on. India accuses Pakistan of violating the ceasefire over 200 times in 2013, more than all the other years since 2003 combined. Pakistan accuses India of firing first but the pattern of incidents on the LoC for the last three decades has been Pakistani troops starting the exchange of fire. Usually the Pakistanis just deny it but this year they made a big deal of it all being an Indian ploy to start another war. The problem has been with the Pakistani military and its anti-Indian commander. The Pakistani generals often ignore the government (except when it is run by generals) when ordered to keep the peace on the Indian border. This time the elected Pakistani leadership believe they have convinced their generals to keep things quiet on the border, mainly by installing a new senior commander who believes Islamic terrorists are a bigger threat to Pakistan than India. The new military commander the civilian rulers of Pakistan selected is not only less hostile to India but also acceptable to the majority of Pakistani generals.
In Karachi, Pakistan two terrorist bombs went off in a Shia neighborhood leaving three dead and 30 wounded.
December 22, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) troops continued searching for and attacking Islamic terrorists. In the last three days these clashes have left over fifty dead.
December 21, 2013: Chinese and Indian officials met on the Indian border near Ladakh (northwest India). India accused China of sending a platoon (about 20) of troops into Indian territory to set up a camp and is demanding that the Chinese withdraw and stop these incursions.
In the Pakistani tribal territories Taliban gunmen attacked on a polio vaccination team and killed one of the vaccinators.
December 20, 2013: On the Kashmir LoC Pakistani troops fired on Indian troops. There were no casualties.
December 19, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) troops raided a compound believed occupied by Islamic terrorists who had attacked soldiers yesterday. The army said 23 Islamic terrorists were killed. Local politicians held demonstrations for the media accusing the army of making a revenge attack that killed 65 people, most of them innocent civilians. The army insists only terrorists were targeted. North Waziristan has always been one of the most anti-government areas in the tribal territories and that one reason Pakistan has allowed this area to be a terrorist sanctuary. Given the anti-government attitudes in North Waziristan it’s not surprising that there would be protests.
On the Kashmir LoC Pakistani troops fired on Indian troops. One Indian soldier was wounded.
December 18, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) an army convoy was hit by a suicide bomber and this wounded three soldiers.
In Pakistan (South Waziristan) some sixty mortar shells fired from across the border in Afghanistan wounded six civilians as many of the shells hit a village and its market place. The shells were believed fired by Pakistani Taliban who maintain camps in Afghanistan as well as the terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan.