India-Pakistan: January 22, 2004


Tribal Islamic radicals in Pakistan are supporting the Afghan Taliban by getting young Afghans across the border illegally to study in Pakistani religious schools. In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), the local tribes have always been religiously conservative, and hostile to government interference in tribal affairs. Government attempts to get the Baluchi and Pushtun tribes to cooperate in keeping the Taliban and al Qaeda out have not been very successful so far. Police and troops have caught and deported hundreds of Afghans crossing the border illegally, but many more are getting through. Same with weapons and munitions. It is thought that the young Afghans are receiving training in terrorist camps up in the hills. But there has been little substantial evidence of such camps. Meanwhile, the tribes have been firing rockets and machine-guns at army camps, and setting off bombs in the towns. In effect, the tribes and the Pakistani government are at war, although at a low level and in slow motion. A lot of the tribal enthusiasm for al Qaeda has to do with a mutual enthusiasm for conservatism Islam, and hatred of  secular governments. Al Qaeda has also been generous with cash, which always works with the tribes.




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