India-Pakistan: The Night Of The Generals


December 1, 2009: In Pakistan, the army and the elected government are feuding over who shall control foreign affairs and nuclear weapons. The politicians tend to be civilians and very corrupt. The military officers are less corrupt and consider themselves morally superior to the politicians, and that the military should have the last word on certain government decisions, especially those that impact the military. The generals are particularly angry over restrictions (to prevent corruption) attached to the latest multi-billion dollar American military aid package. The military controlled intelligence services tapped phone conversations between politicians indicating that the Americans were encouraged to impose these restrictions. The military is a world unto itself, with control of much of the economy and substantial political support from a minority of the population.

Another bad habit the Pakistani military has is their fixation on war with India. Nuclear weapons, and growing Indian disinterest, have made such a war much less likely, and Pakistani politicians see that as a reason for cutting defense spending, and the influence of the military. The generals are, quite naturally, opposed to this. The Pakistani government is trying to take apart the changes, made by the last military dictator, that concentrated so much power in the hands of the president (who is elected, or taken over by an army general), and shift it to the prime minister (who comes from parliament). The generals were particularly unhappy to see ultimate control of using nuclear weapons shifted to the prime minister, Meanwhile, the deadly hand of the military was seen in recent attacks on journalists critical of the armed forces leadership. Gunmen shot up the house of one journalists, and others have disappeared or been beaten. The military always claims innocence, but the message is always clear.

The generals are also opposed to making war on Pakistanis (in the tribal territories), rather than Indians. In the last seven years, some 2,000 soldiers have died fighting in the tribal territories. Only a handful have died on the Indian frontier. The war has intensified in the tribal territories, with over nearly 3,000 dead in the last 30 months. Pakistan is under increasing pressure to shed all support for Islamic radical groups. But the military opposes this, seeing the Islamic terrorists as the best way of making some attacks on India. The Pakistani military has never been successful against India, and this imbalance has gotten worse over the last few decades. However, with India, Israel and the United States cooperating against Islamic terror groups, the Pakistanis see nothing but failure because of growing support to Islamic radicals.

The war in the tribal territories is now a deadly round of hide-and-seek, with the Taliban gunmen hiding out in the hills, and attacking army supply convoys and road checkpoints. The weather is working against the Taliban, because up in the hills, it gets below freezing at night, and starting a fire makes you visible to Pakistani and American aircraft up there, looking for heat in unpopulated highlands. Pakistan and the Americans are believed to have signals intel (eavesdropping on electronic communications) covering the area, making it difficult for the Taliban to communicate, and coordinate their operations. Pakistani helicopter gunships and American UAVs are quick to pounce when groups of Taliban are detected. The Pushtun tribesmen have, for thousands of years, been taking to the hills when lowlander armies have invaded the valleys, and survived. But this time, the helicopters, UAVs and more accurate artillery are making it much more difficult to survive up there, and still fight the soldiers below.

In Indian Kashmir, some Islamic terrorists are still crossing from Pakistan, but are being caught more quickly. The loss of support from local Moslems is hurting, and the attempt to terrorize locals into cooperating just made the situation worse. The local Moslems are still angry at the Indian security forces, but that can be settled by negotiation. There can be no negotiation with Islamic terrorists. They consider themselves on a Mission  From God that tolerates no compromise.

In eastern India, communist Maoist rebels continue to launch attacks against uncooperative villagers, and the growing number of police and soldiers moving into areas of heavy Maoist activity. The government is about to launch a major effort to weaken the Maoist movement, and, over the next few years, destroy it. Fatalities from Maoist activity have passed 900 so far this year, most of them in two states (Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand).

November 27, 2009: Over by the Swat Valley, the Taliban assassinated Shahpoor Khan, a pro-government tribal leader. The Taliban have been killing tribal leaders for years, and the tactic has backfired. Initially intimidated by this violence, the tribes grew more angry than afraid as the bodies piled up. Now, these murders mainly trigger yet another blood feud. The Taliban terror tactics have enabled control of tribal populations for a while, but eventually the tribesmen rebels, as they have long been prone to do.

November 26, 2009: Pakistan announced it had paid $120,000 to an informant, for the capture of one of 18 senior Taliban leaders who are being sought. There have been an increasing number of such incidents. It's no longer considered a death sentence (from other Islamic radicals) for collecting such rewards (which are still done anonymously.)

November 25, 2009: On the first anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan has jailed and charged key terrorist operatives who remained behind. But Pakistan refuses to allow Indian interrogators to speak to these men. This makes India more convinced that Pakistan has much more to hide when it comes to government support of Islamic terror groups, and continued support of some of these organizations and their activities.  




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