India-Pakistan: The Truth Can Get You Killed

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April 2, 2011: Pakistan's biggest problem is not the threat of attacks by Islamic terrorists, but the nationwide belief in Pakistan's victimization by foreigners. Everything, even the widespread corruption, is blamed on some foreign conspiracy to bring Pakistan down. Every country has some of these myths, but some more than others. In Pakistan, the conspiracies are numerous and crippling. The worst examples of these involve India, and the overall theme that India is plotting to destroy Pakistan from within (via sponsoring terrorism and separatism) and without (modernizing armed forces that are already much larger than Pakistan's). Other major conspirators are Israel, the United States and former colonial ruler Britain. Pakistani media and politicians have been blaming the foreign conspirators for decades, and many Pakistanis just take these beliefs for granted. After all, it was what they were raised on. At the same time, many Pakistanis, especially those who travel outside the country a lot, or have lived in the West, are exposed to other versions of history and have doubts. But to express these doubts back in Pakistan can get you in big trouble. The truth can get you killed.  

India is not afraid of the truth, because the many Pakistani terrorists caught in India, often after killing many Indians, are all too real. In some cases, where the evidence is overwhelming, Pakistan will even agree. But Pakistani media and politicians will seek refuge in conspiracies. This further angers the Indians, which is how the Pakistani media and politicians like it. It's a lethal deception.

But in the meantime, despite the blame-shifting, there are real problems in Pakistan, doing real damage. Islamic terrorists are killing senior officials who oppose Islamic radicalism, knowing that the media and politicians will praise the killers. Meanwhile, corruption still cripples the economy and functioning democracy is a sometime thing in Pakistan. But at least there's always someone else to blame.

In Pakistan, terrorism (by Islamic fanatics, politicians, the media, businesses) works. Currently, for example, about half the Islamic terrorists arrested in the tribal territories for murder, eventually get released by a judge. In a few cases, there is a viable legal reason for this, but in most cases, frustrated police see threats and bribery doing the deed. Often, the prosecutors and police, because of incompetence or corruption, present a fatally weak case, and sometimes this is not by accident or because of lacking professional skills.

Indian military planners are facing the growing likelihood that China and Pakistan will coordinate operations in any future war with either. India does not discuss details, as these kinds of plans are estimates of what either potential foe might do to trigger a conflict, and how they might go about it. China and Pakistan have long been allies, but now that Pakistan has a large force of nuclear armed ballistic missiles, as well as a large terrorist network inside India, and China has growing concern over the security of their sea trade through the Indian Ocean, joint military planning by the two of them is a growing fear within India. Increased prosperity in India and China has created an arms race. Pakistan is not prospering, but is hustling for military aid from China and the United States, just to stay in the competition.

In Pakistan's tribal territories (Khyber area), four terrorists were killed and eight wounded in a battle between two Taliban factions. Two of the dead were Taliban leaders, and the fighting was caused by a tribal dispute. Elsewhere in the tribal territories (Kurram area), over sixty tribesmen have been kidnapped in the last few days (including ten children today). Kidnapping is a popular tactic to force a settlement in tribal disputes, or simply to raise money.

Meanwhile, down south in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, two weeks of political violence has left over fifty dead. The violence continues, but at a shrinking rate, as the police increase their pacification efforts.

In India's northeast, tribal separatists ambushed an army patrol, killing three and wounding two. In eastern India, Maoist rebels have made themselves unpopular by destroying over a hundred school buildings in the last year. The Maoists did this because the police often use school buildings as a headquarters when they move a lot of paramilitary forces into an area. But the locals lose their only school, because the Maoists provide no replacement or apology. Local Maoist leaders have been unable to get their middle-management to cancel this self-destructive (to the Maoists) tactic.

April 1, 2011: In Pakistan's tribal territories (Kurram area), eight terrorists were killed during raids on three terrorist hideouts. On the nearby highway through the Khyber Pass (into Afghanistan), some 20 gunmen attacked a parking lot holding seven trucks used for the Afghan trade. The owner and two watchmen were beheaded, and five trucks destroyed and two damaged. The Taliban take credit for many of these attacks, although much of the violence is part of extortion schemes. Pay the gangs money, and the attacks stop.

Elsewhere in the tribal territories, guards and civilians in the northwest spotted and tried to seize a suicide bomber caught trying to enter a mosque or a crowded market. A guard shot the bomber, but not before the explosives went off, killing a 12 year old boy and wounding five other civilians.

In Kashmir, Indian police arrested a senior Islamic terrorist leader (Mohammad Shafi Dar), based on a tip.  Dar was believed responsible for organizing several recent attacks on security forces,

March 31, 2011: Pakistani police believe they have arrested a major Indonesian terrorist leader (Umar Patek), and his wife. Fingerprint and DNA data is on its way from Indonesia to make sure. Patek was the man behind a particularly bloody (over 200 dead) 2002 attack, and has been on the run ever since. Patek hid out in the Philippines for a while, but several years ago he fled to Pakistan.

Elsewhere in the Pakistani tribal territories, for the second time in two days, terrorist leaders tried to kill the head (Maulana Fazlur Rehman) of a rival political party (JUI), who is also a member of parliament. While Rehman survived both attacks,  22 others died from the roadside bombs, and many more were wounded. This is yet another example of the growing splits within the Islamic radical community. These disagreements have become more violent over the last few years, as NATO success against the Afghan Taliban, and even greater setbacks by the Pakistani Taliban, force terrorist leaders to reconsider their methods and objectives. These debates often become violent. The government is trying to take advantage of this to work out peace deals with some Taliban leaders. This has caused anti-Taliban tribal leaders to protest, by pointing out that the Taliban usually violate peace deals. These tribal militias also feel they will be more vulnerable, because the anti-Taliban militias they lead will lose their government support (ammo, cash, weapons and equipment), and thus be more vulnerable to continued Taliban aggression.

March 29, 2011:  In Pakistan's tribal territories (Khyber area), 13 soldiers were killed by friendly fire. It began when an army patrol was ambushed by Taliban. No soldiers were hurt, and they called in mortar fire from a nearby army unit, against the ambushing gunmen. But the mortar barrage fell on the soldiers instead. Such friendly fire incidents are more common than any military force likes to admit.

March 28, 2011: For the third time in a week, Moslems attacked Christian churches in Pakistan. All these attacks were said to be in response to anti-Moslem acts by American Christian clergy (which did not involve attacking Mosques.)

March 25, 2011:  Turkish urban combat experts conducted joint training exercises with counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Several dozen officers and NCOs were involved.

In Pakistan's tribal territories (Kurram area), terrorists attacked two busses, killing 13 passengers, wounding eight others and kidnapping 16. This attack was believed to be religious in nature, with Sunni attackers targeting Shia travelers.

March 24, 2011: Islamic militants blew up two more girls' schools in the Pakistani tribal territories. This area (the Khyber Agency) has a population of 550,000 and only ten percent of women (and only half the men) are literate. The Islamic radicals (especially al Qaeda, most Taliban and some of the population) want to keep it this way. But most parents want all their children to be educated. Even without the schools getting blown up, Pakistan spends much less than India and China does (in relative and absolute terms) on education.

 

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