October 20, 2009:
In Pakistan, the latest spate of suicide attacks by the Taliban has mobilized the senior Islamic clerics in Pakistan to condemn the practice (which kills a lot of innocents). Most Pakistanis are not keen to get their religious leadership from tribal warlords. In South Waziristan, troops have been warned to be on the watch for roadside bombs, which are expected to be used a lot by the local tribesmen.
Dozens of Taliban leaders and veterans from Swat have fled the country, joining the expatriate Pushtun community in the Persian Gulf (where some had earlier worked as laborers and are usually not active in Islamic radical groups, except for fundraising and recruiting, while there.) Pakistani police are raiding religious schools, but making few arrests while they do. But, nationwide, the sweeps have rounded up several hundred terrorist suspects, including foreigners (mainly Afghans).
There are two major tribes in South Waziristan, the Mehsud and the Ahmedzai Wazir. The Ahmedzai Wazir have declared their neutrality in the war between the government and the Taliban. Both tribes contribute members to the local Taliban, but the Mehsud have contributed most of the terrorist leadership. The Ahmedzai Wazir Taliban have withdrawn, and are avoiding any contact with, or violence against, Pakistani troops. This neutrality was facilitated by the payment of a large bribe to tribal leaders (in the form of "economic development funds"). Several other tribal leaders in the area have also received "gifts" from the government, in return for their neutrality against the army troops moving through their territory. This is the traditional way of making war in this part of the world. Everyone with a gun expects to get paid.
In South Waziristan, advancing troops have captured dozens of compounds belonging to pro-Taliban families or clans, and several Taliban ammo stockpiles have been captured, or destroyed from the air. About a hundred have died in the fighting so far, 90 percent of them Taliban. The army strategy is to go after the Taliban assets (compounds used as bases, vehicles, weapons stockpiles and anything else the Islamic militants will miss.) It's basically a scorched earth approach, with non-Taliban tribesmen expected to aid the soldiers with information, or else. But nearly a quarter of the civilian population has fled instead, not wishing to get hit by the crossfire.
Pakistani police have arrested several Taliban terrorists in Karachi, and captured dozens of weapons and hundreds of pounds of bomb making material. Taliban terror attacks in the last two weeks have left nearly 200 dead across the country. This has enraged the public, and the police (who were often the target.)
Indian Maoist rebels have dismissed the government mobilization of 75,000 police, paramilitaries and commandos for a major offensive against the rebels, as doomed to failure. The Maoists certainly are not going to be intimidated into surrender. But the government is eager to reduce Maoist power, if only to reduce the damage Maoists are doing to the local economy. Attacks on economic targets rose from 70 in 2006 to 85 in 2007, to110 in 2008. About the same number of attacks are expected this year. Railroads (stations and tracks), electricity transmission lines and mobile phone towers are the main targets.
October 19, 2009: Iran is demanding that Pakistan hunt down and deliver to them a tribal chief who has been organizing attacks into Iran. In particular, the Iranians are upset over a suicide bombing attack yesterday that killed five senior Revolutionary Guard commanders, and over 30 others, as the commanders were about to meet Baluchi tribal chiefs. The attackers were from Sunni radical group Jundullah, which is based in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan). In Peshawar, the largest city in the tribal territories, police found and defused two bombs planted in a girls school.
In India's eastern state of Jharkhand, Maoist violence left five dead (four civilians and one Maoist).
October 18, 2009: Nearly 30,000 Pakistani troops advance into South Waziristan, a mountainous region near the Afghan border, and home to about 600,000 people. About a quarter of them have fled their homes, or are preparing to. The soldiers are entering from three directions, while dozens of helicopters and fighter-bombers are in the air overhead. Some 10,000 of the locals, mostly members of the Mehsud tribe, are armed and working for the Taliban. The government is also offering a $10,000 reward for any tips that lead to the capture of an Islamic terrorists. A student volunteer counter-terror force is being formed, with three days training being provided by the police. The first day of fighting in South Waziristan left five soldiers and at least 60 Taliban dead.
In eastern India, violence between two rival Maoist leaders left one of them dead.
October 17, 2009: The Pakistani government has decided to attack the Taliban heartland in South Waziristan, and crush the terror group. The campaign is planned to be complete by the end of the year. The Taliban won't be wiped out, but they will be hurt. In Peshawar, the largest city in the tribal territories, three suicide attackers went after a police station, leaving 13 dead.
October 16, 2009: Pakistani police arrested several dozen terrorism suspects in the wake of yesterdays attacks on police facilities. This was intended to intimidate the police, but appears to have enraged the cops instead. In Indian Kashmir, police found a terrorist hideout, killed one men during a gun battle and captured weapons and documents.
October 15, 2009: In Pakistan, Taliban in the large cities (especially Lahore and Karachi) launched four attacks. The Taliban strength in the cities comes from Pushtuns who have formed their own neighborhoods, full of unemployed young men and religious schools for Pushtuns and locals who have been radicalized. These urban Taliban made five terror attacks (three in Lahore) in 24 hours, which left about 40 dead. The number of people fleeing South Waziristan is approaching 100,000. The air and artillery attacks continue. Terrorist attacks in the tribal territories and cities throughout Pakistan have killed over 120 in the last week.
October 14, 2009: In the last three days, tribal militias have killed at least 30 Taliban in Bajaur, a mountainous area adjacent to the Swat Valley. In South Waziristan, the Pakistani Army has assembled two infantry divisions and several specialist counter-terror units. Warplanes killed several dozen people during air strikes on known Taliban bases. The roads are full of civilians fleeing more violence, as the Pakistani troops are expected to advance and occupy Taliban bases.
In eastern India, police have arrested over a dozen Maoists in the last week, including several leaders.