India-Pakistan: Reality Shock


January 12, 2009:  India's northeastern tribal areas saw more violence last year (1,057 dead) than Kashmir (539 dead). As with Kashmir (where Moslems are trying to drive out the Hindu population), in the northeast the native tribes are trying to drive out migrants from other parts of India (or Bangladesh). The situation in the northeast is made worse by many of the tribal separatist groups who also operate as criminal gangs (extortion, theft, smuggling, kidnapping and so on). Then there are the growing number of communist (Maoist) groups operating in the northeast. The Maoists want to smash the state and install themselves as a socialist dictatorship.

In the last week, Pakistan had to deal with India making public all the evidence it had collected about the Mumbai terrorist attacks. The evidence made it pretty clear that the attackers were Pakistani, and a senior official (the National Security Advisor, or NSA) admitted that the one terrorist captured alive was a Pakistani citizen (previously, Pakistan had tried to deny this). Shortly thereafter, the NSA was fired. The Pakistani government has tried to avoid the fact that the attackers were Pakistani, were trained in Pakistan and were supervised, via satellite phones, by the leaders of terrorist organizations in Pakistan. This is pretty damning stuff, and something that India (and the United States) has been complaining about for years. The Pakistani government, however, has, in the past, taken as little responsibility, or action, for this as it could get away with. When presented with strong evidence, Pakistani officials mumble, speak vaguely of doing something, and wait for the media excitement to die down. Nothing is really done, because Pakistan does not want to go to war with the Islamic terrorists who specialize in attacks inside India (especially Kashmir). This sort of terrorism is very popular inside Pakistan, and the government does not want to be on the wrong side of it. But it cannot admit this to the world, as it would be an admission of supporting terrorism against a neighbor. That, however, is what Pakistan has been doing for over two decades now, and the evidence is getting impossible to ignore. So the response this time is to insist that all this is an Indian ploy to use Mumbai as a pretext to attack Pakistan. India denies this, but Pakistan insists it is in danger from India, and hopes this will deflect attention from the anti-Indian terrorists operating inside Pakistan. So far, Pakistan has moved five brigades to the Indian border (mostly along the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani portions of Kashmir). India has not responded with movements of additional troops to the border.

The Pakistani Taliban have stepped up their campaign against entertainment. Recently they murdered a prominent traditional dancer, a woman who also trained young girls in the ancient dances of the tribal region. The Taliban first threaten those who deal in entertainment, and increasingly follow up ignored threats with murder. Local government officials often fail to act, lest they be accused by the Taliban as "un-Islamic" and targeted for murder as well.

Bangladesh finally held its long delayed (by corruption, violence and military rule) elections. The secularist Awami League won 230 of 300 seats in parliament, and is forming the new government. The Islamic groups have failed to attract much popularity. Nevertheless, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Islamic radicals still use Bangladesh as a base for terrorist operations inside India. However, the lack of local support, and energetic counter-terror operations across the border in India, has led to most of these Islamic terrorists getting arrested.

January 11, 2009: Over 500 Afghan Taliban crossed into Pakistan and, in cooperation with some local Taliban, attacked a police camp. The assault failed, leaving six policemen and over 40 Taliban dead. Despite the movement of some army brigades to the Indian border (to defend against a non-existent Indian buildup), most of the Pakistani troops have remained along the Afghan border, prepared to fight any Taliban activity.

January 10, 2009: The Pakistani government confirmed that a U.S. Hellfire missile had killed, on January 1st, one of the senior al Qaeda leaders (Osama al Kini) in Pakistan. Al Kini was responsible for the recent bombing of the Marriott hotel in Pakistan's capital, and an earlier, failed, assassination attempt against Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto (who died a year ago from yet another attempt to kill her). Pakistan publicly denounces the Hellfire attacks (via UAVs like Predator), but privately encourages these successful attacks on the al Qaeda and Taliban leadership.

January 9, 2009:  In northwest Pakistan, religious violence between Shia and Sunni groups left seven dead and about twenty wounded. This religious violence has been going on for generations, but got worse when radical Shia clergy took control of Iran in the 1980s, and radical Sunni groups like al Qaeda became more active.

In central India's Chhattisgarh state, police battled Maoist rebels, killing at least fifteen of them. Chhattisgarh state has also established special "Anti-Terrorism Squads", composed of men from rural areas, and trained by Indian Army commandos. These squads are used to hunt down Maoist patrols and camps in the jungle.

January 8, 2009:  After a nine day siege, a dozen or so Islamic terrorists trapped near the Pakistani border, in Indian Kashmir, escaped in the night during a storm. Three Indian policemen and four terrorists were killed. The escaping terrorists apparently fled back to Pakistan.

January 7, 2009: A Canadian freelance journalist (Beverly Giesbrecht), working for al Jazeera, was kidnapped two months ago, and her tribal captors just now named their terms. They want $150,000 ransom and the freedom of several jailed (in Afghanistan) friends. Giesbrecht converted to Islam after September 11, 2001, and denounced Western efforts to fight Islamic terrorism. The Canadian government refuses to pay ransom, and the Afghan government will not release prisoners as part of a ransom deal.

January 6, 2009: At least 80 people were hurt as Shia Moslems in Indian Kashmir fought police over the twenty year old ban on public demonstrations during an annual Shia religious festival noted for its violence.




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