India-Pakistan: January 31, 2004


Despite the ceasefire in Kashmir, some of the more militant rebel groups continued to fight. But they are having a hard time of it because the police are concentrating on those areas where they know the more militant groups operate. For example, today police caught two groups of rebels near the Pakistan border and killed 12 of them, including five known rebel leaders.

Pakistan has arrested a tribal leader, Khan Muhammad Deen,  as a suspect in the assassination attempts on president Musharraf. Deen was known for his support of Islamic radicals. 

Meanwhile, Pakistan has obtained some cooperation from the tribes by threatening to destroy crops, herds and housing of the tribes to not hand over 72 al Qaeda and Taliban suspects and sympathizers. The tribes agreed and have turned over 42 of the suspects so far, and destroyed the  homes of eight others when their families refused to cooperate. The US has also provided millions of dollars in aid for the tribal areas (along with auditors to make sure the money gets to the projects and does not disappear along the way.) Roads, schools and clinics have been built. The tribes along the Afghan border are receptive to such gestures, but this alone will not force the pro-Taliban and al Qaeda tribal leaders to give up the terror suspects they are sheltering. Rumors of an American "Spring Offensive" into Pakistan are just that, rumors. President Musharraf would take an enormous political hit if he allowed US troops to operate in Pakistan. Then again, US and British commandos have already operated in Pakistan, and just kept quiet about it. That seems to work and that's what the "Spring Offensive" rumors are probably all about. There's no doubt that the Pakistani army would be more active in a few months, when the weather gets warmer. With military activity on both sides of the border, things could get very difficult for any al Qaeda and Taliban members hiding out up in the hills.




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