India-Pakistan: March 26, 2004


In Pakistan, the fighting in South Waziristan against a force of 300-400 al Qaeda fighters, has left 50 of the al Qaeda dead and 150 people arrested (suspected al Qaeda or al Qaeda supporters). The fighting continues at a low level. 

The United States recent official recognition of Pakistan as a "major ally" means that Pakistan can buy (or be given, as military aid) lots of useful weapons and equipment. Night vision gear, more reliable radios, .50 caliber (12.7mm) sniper rifles, surplus U.S. Army helicopters (which are better than the old and decrepit Russian ones they would replace) and much more would make the Pakistani army more effective against al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the northwest. But this gear would also make the Pakistani troops more lethal in any future combat with India. The Indians don't like this, but understand that, in the fight against Islamic radicalism, the U.S. needs Pakistan, while the U.S. and India need each other. India is a major target of Islamic radicals, and has working more closely with the U.S. on counter-terrorism since September 11, 2001. But the real enemy is Pakistani politics. 

Pakistan, unlike India, did not push through land reforms after independence in 1947. As a result, Pakistan is dominated by a few hundred families that own most of the land, and much of the industry. Pakistan is a democracy in name only, as these few families dominate local and national politics. Many Pakistanis look to radical Islam for a new, more just government and society. Right now, corruption in government and business is rampant and poverty pervasive. Little the government does to try and deal with the poverty seems to work, although the current strategy of encouraging foreign investment is having some success. But this is a government with nuclear weapons, and it has already admitted selling nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya, North Korea and Iran. India and Pakistan are still talking peace, but that is more possible than peace and reform inside of Pakistan.

India was offered a similar alliance deal, but turned it down. India is comfortable with it's alliance with Russia and Israel. India buys military technology from both, getting the high end stuff from Israel and the rest from Russia, or the growing number of Indian defense manufacturers.  Pakistan's getting cozy with the United States is partly an effort to find a source of high tech weapons. India is moving farther and father ahead of Pakistan in this department with its use of Israel and Russia as a supplier of modern weapons.

In southern India, Maoist rebels blew up a rail line and continued their assassination campaign against local politicians. 




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