India-Pakistan: Won't Let Go


July 29, 2010: The recent release of U.S. (Afghanistan related) military documents on the Internet has put more pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Islamic terrorism within its borders. The documents revealed nothing new, but put into sharper focus the divisions within the Pakistani government that has created tolerance for Islamic radical groups, especially if they attack India. British leaders criticizing these pro-terrorist policies recently generated angry and defensive responses from Pakistan. The U.S. has sent its senior military leader to Pakistan to personally plead for the Pakistanis to give up on their addiction to Islamic terrorism. The U.S. is particularly upset that most of the military aid given to Pakistan is not spent on counter-terrorism, but to build up forces organized to halt an Indian invasion.

For three decades now, there has been a faction of the Pakistani leadership that believed Islamic radicalism could be helpful. At first, it was believed that Islamic radicalism would help eliminate the corruption, mismanagement and parochialism that have impoverished the country and left the nation further and further behind long time (since the two nations were created in 1947) rival India. These decades of support or tolerance has given Islamic terrorists many supporters, and places to hide, in Pakistan. For a long time, the nationalist (anti-India, pro-Taliban) Islamic radicals kept their distance from the internationalist (al Qaeda) terrorists. No more, and this has turned Pakistani support for Islamic radicals from a regional to an international problem. But the Pakistanis say they are unable to just flip a switch and make the pro-terrorist attitudes go away. The West is telling them they better find the switch, or make one, or else things will get a lot worse for Pakistan, despite (or perhaps because of) Pakistani nuclear weapons.

In both India and Pakistan, but particularly Pakistan, private armies, and gangsters or terrorists for hire, are a persistent problem. In Pakistan this has led to a growing number of politicians and journalists getting killed by hit squads in the pay of politicians, wealthy families or religious sects. The police are reluctant to go after these death squads, because these killers go after police commanders as well.

The U.S. is making a special effort to pressure Pakistan into withdrawing its support for, and protection of the Haqqani network, an Islamic radical group long supported by Pakistani intelligence (ISI). The Haqqani network mainly operates in Afghanistan, but has used its muscle in Pakistan as well. The security forces say they are finding and destroying Haqqani bases. But this is mostly for show, and Pakistani intelligence (ISI) has persuaded the army to leave the main Haqqani bases alone.  Haqqani  people are largely in the Orakzai  area (which is south of the Khyber Pass, an 1,800 square kilometers patch of mountains inhabited by 450,000 tribals). The Haqqani crew are largely Afghans, who fled the country after losing to the Taliban in a civil war 15 years ago. Haqqani fighters were, and still are, Islamic radicals, and the Pakistanis have long seen them as a useful competitor to keep the Taliban in check. All this border politics with Islamic radicals is a Pakistani attempt to keep things quiet ("under control") in Afghanistan. This strategy has not worked, but the Pakistanis don't want to admit it, and protection for Haqqani & Company continues. The U.S. believes almost all the terrorist violence in eastern Afghanistan is caused by the Haqqani network.

A growing number of Pakistani officials, and ordinary citizens, are inclined to take a more realistic view of India. These attitudes (India does not want to conquer Pakistan, and Pakistani nukes make that very unlikely anyway) are vehemently opposed by a large minority in Pakistan. The idea that India is forever plotting to invade and conquer Pakistan (the last thing most Indians want, given all the problems Pakistan has, and India would inherit after such a conquest) is fading, but not fast enough. The Islamic terrorists are helping to change attitudes (against them) by making more attacks outside the tribal areas. But there aren't that many Islamic terrorist groups capable of carrying out attacks. Even criminal gangs will use bombs for intimidation, as do older (pre-1980) religious radicals, so it's often difficult for al Qaeda or Taliban to get credit for their mayhem.

Pakistani officials are often exasperated at all the criticism they get for the pro-terrorist attitudes in Pakistan. After all, Pakistan has come a long way in the past decade, in its anti-terrorist attitudes and efforts. But Pakistan has also become the major base area for Islamic terrorists, and increased anxieties in the West and India.

Fighting against Taliban groups continues in Pakistan's Orakzai area.  This has been going on all year, while Pakistani forces stay out of North Waziristan, the last Islamic terrorist sanctuary (no police) in Pakistan. The government says it is negotiating with tribal leaders, America and India don't believe it and are pushing for a move into North Waziristan. U.S. UAVs are increasingly active there, firing missiles at Taliban and al Qaeda personnel once or more a week.

India has had some success in offering generous payments to Maoist leaders who surrender. But this won't solve the problem in eastern India, as most Maoist leaders believe they have a real chance of getting a country-wide revolution going. That is a form of tunnel vision, because while nearly half of all Indians are very poor, this condition tends to be concentrated in those states where the Maoists are most active. Other states are much more prosperous, and quite hostile to the Maoist goal of a socialist dictatorship running the country.

India's big problem with the Maoists is the lack of economic development in many rural areas. This problem is being addressed, most immediately by building more roads. This allows the troops to get around more quickly, but also fosters commerce and greatly annoys the Maoists.

July 26, 2010: In eastern India, police killed six Maoists, including a local leader who specialized in attacks on the police. Thousands of special police are search rural areas of eastern India for Maoist camps, and often encountering well armed and determined Maoists who put up quite a fight.

Bangladesh has accused four leaders, of the nation's largest Islamic party, of crimes against humanity. This is for thousands of murders committed by Islamic radical groups during the 1971 civil war that tore the original Pakistan apart and created what is currently Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan). This was before Pakistan adopted Islamic radicalism as a state backed movement. Bangladesh never went that way, and has much fewer problems with Islamic radicals even though, like Pakistan, most of the population is Moslem. But then, Bangladesh does not have a 15 percent minority consisting of Baluch and Pushtun tribes.





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