India-Pakistan: The War Moves To Karachi

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February 7, 2011: Fighting continues in areas near North Waziristan, where pro-Taliban tribesmen try to maintain a presence in their home areas. This fighting has caused several hundred casualties a week (including over a hundred dead) since the cold weather set in. For the last ten days, the tempo of military activity has increased, causing over 30,000 civilians to flee their homes. The current offensive is expected to cause nearly 100,000 locals to flee (to temporary camps the government has set up for them), and for several hundred Islamic radicals to be killed.

North Waziristan is mainly a refuge for foreign terrorists (al Qaeda and others) and the Taliban leadership (that comes from a local tribe). Much to the frustration of the United States, Pakistan refuses to go into North Waziristan, but allows the Americans to use CIA UAVs armed with missiles to hunt and kill Taliban and Islamic terrorist leaders in North Waziristan, especially those who are seeking to kill Pakistani leaders. The U.S. believes that Pakistan may change its mind once the warm weather, and more terrorist activity throughout Pakistan, arrives. Pakistani intelligence believes they can control key terrorist groups, but this has been increasingly shown to be false. More and more Islamic terror groups are at war with the Pakistani government.

Peshawar, the largest city in Pakistan's tribal territories, and north of Waziristan, has seen nearly one terror attack a day in the last two weeks. Most of these are directed at the police or army, but often end up missing and killing civilians, often women and children. The Taliban have not been very popular in the tribal territories to begin with, and this continuing violence, especially the destruction of schools, makes them even less popular.

The Pakistani Taliban have also made lots of enemies because of attacks on Mosques. In the last decade, most (nearly 70 percent) of their attacks on religious targets have been non-Moslem. Seventeen of those 54 attacks were on Mosques (usually of Moslems that spoke out against the Taliban.) In the last ten years, these attacks on places of worship have killed nearly 1,200 people.

Away from the tribal territories, Karachi, Pakistan's largest city (and producer of a quarter of the GDP), entered the year with a bang. In January, there were nearly 200 deaths from political and religious violence. The Taliban has established a presence among the two million Pushtuns in the city. In response, police arrested over 500 people (many of them "the usual suspects.") Most of those killed were Pushtuns, partly because the locals are hostile to Pushtun groups gaining more power, and partly because many Pushtun groups are fighting each other. But a lot of the violence is the result of the Taliban trying to prevent the police from stopping the Pushtun radicals from establishing safe havens in Karachi.

Bombs went off near two Karachi police stations, but there were no casualties.

In eastern India (Jharkhand) Maoists blew up railroad tracks in two places, as part of an effort to disrupt the local economy.

Indian police in eastern India are finding Maoists more entrenched than generally believed. The additional cops brought in to root out the Maoists are not only finding arms caches and remote camps, but also Maoist schools, teaching young children to be good revolutionaries. The armed Maoists keep moving, to avoid battles with the troops, but many Maoists supporters are being identified and arrested.

February 6, 2011:  In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a bomb went off at a government building, wounding 11 people. Tribal rebels are suspected, as they are the usual suspects for this sort of thing.  

February 1, 2011:  The Pakistani Army is pulling at least one brigade of troops out of the Swat Valley, an area between the tribal territories and the capital. Over 10,0000 new police have been trained to take over security duties. But most locals prefer the soldiers. Swat is a popular tourist areas adjacent to the tribal territories. It has taken the army nearly two years to clear out the remaining Taliban, causing most of them to flee, surrender, get killed or be arrested. It all began in 2008, as the Taliban terrorized the valley for over a year. They didn't wear masks and were generally identifiable. This caused two million people to flee the valley (although most have now returned). People left because of the brutality the Islamic militants employed to terrorize the population. The returning refugees were quick to identify the remaining Taliban terrorists. But many of the Taliban sought to hide in the hills, and continue their terror attacks. Most of these men have been caught or killed. People in Swat don't like their corrupt government (which made the Taliban popular at first), but found Islamic militants even more oppressive. The refugees say they will flee again if the Taliban return, and prefer the military to run the area, rather than the usual corrupt government officials.  In Pakistan, those who openly strive to eliminate corruption receive death threats, and are sometimes attacked or even killed.

 

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