India-Pakistan: Attitude Adjustment

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July 4, 2011: During the recent resumption of peace talks with Pakistan, Indian diplomats got first-hand exposure to the changed attitudes of Pakistanis towards their military and intelligence agencies (ISI), and the connections with terrorists. Pakistanis still want all of Kashmir, but there is less denial of cooperation between the Pakistani military and the Islamic terrorists everyone is supposed to be fighting. Suddenly, the military and ISI are seen as corrupt, untrustworthy and incompetent. For over half a century, the country pretended that all this did not exist. But starting with the May 2nd American raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden, there has been one embarrassing incident, or revelation, after another. The military and ISI have made things worse, by arresting or murdering journalists who help spread the revelations or encourage discussion of what it all means.  There is now more talk about making some fundamental changes in Pakistan.

Forced to deal with all this, Pakistani politicians talk of reducing corruption. It's not the first time that subject has been brought up, but nothing has been done about it, and that probably won't change. Too many people are stealing and cheating. The military is particularly corrupt, despite many officers backing the wider application of Islamic law to make everything better. Corrupt officials break both civil and Islamic laws against stealing and cheating. Islamic radicalism has been cynically used as another political ploy to gain power, and the opportunity to steal. That is what happened to the Islamic political parties in Pakistan, especially in the tribal territories. But at least more Pakistanis are admitting what the rest of the world already knows, that Pakistan has some serious problems with its military and intel agencies.  Within the military, there is more discussion about the wisdom of putting so much emphasis on religion and support of religious extremism. This can be tricky, as the most enthusiastic supporters of Islamic radicalism are inclined to kill fellow officers who disagree with them.

Officially, the Pakistani Taliban consider the Pakistani military to be "American puppets" and more attacks in Pakistan are threatened to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden. Not mentioned is the fact that most of the violence in the tribal territories is more about keeping non-Pushtuns (the Pakistani government) out and deciding who will run the tribes (the older traditionalists, or the younger, Islamic radical, generation).  

Meanwhile, there is a similar revulsion against bad behavior within the Pakistani Taliban. In the Kurram area of the tribal territories, Taliban leader Fazal Saeed Haqqani has split from the Taliban to protest the policy of attacking mosques and civilians in general. Haqqani (associated with the Haqqani Network, which is allied with the Taliban) commands a force strong enough to break away and get away with it. Moreover, Fazal Saeed Haqqani's gunmen control a key road crossing the border into Afghanistan and providing an escape route from North Waziristan (the last sanctuary for Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories.) Rather than threaten violence, the Taliban leadership is trying to negotiate a settlement with Fazal Saeed Haqqani.

Despite the sanctuary (except for American UAV missile attacks) in North Waziristan, fighting between security forces and Islamic terrorists continues in the tribal territories. So far this year, that fighting, and Islamic terror attacks, have killed 3,000 people (45 percent terrorists, 40 percent civilians and 15 percent security forces.) Most of the terror attacks are in the tribal territories, as are nearly all the clashes between groups of Islamic terrorists and security forces. For years, the Pakistani tried to blame all the violence on India, but that fantasy has worn thin. There's wider acceptance of the fact that this Pakistani problem has its causes in Pakistan, not some foreign country. Yet Pakistani popular opinion remains very hostile to India and the United States. Over half a century of propaganda does that. But the reality is that there is 30 times more terrorist related violence (after adjusting for population and the number of terror deaths) in Pakistan than in India. That has been going on for a long time, and does not seem likely to change any time soon.

The Pakistani military continues to leave North Waziristan alone. The United States does not. Despite Pakistani government orders for foreign troops (trainers and those maintaining UAVs operating from two air bases) to leave Pakistan, the UAV attacks continue. More of them are launched from an Afghan base, but the targets remain in North Waziristan. The United States is, in effect, telling the Pakistani military that American attacks in North Waziristan will continue, especially if the Pakistanis continue to refuse to go in and shut down the terrorist bases there.

While North Waziristan is a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists, many Taliban groups find it an inconvenient location (because of tribesmen, who live elsewhere, that support them). These non-sanctuary Taliban often clash with Pakistani police and soldiers, and are increasingly camping out across the border in Afghanistan, but still operating in Pakistan (attacking police and soldiers.) In response, Pakistan has been firing rockets at where they believe the Pakistani Taliban camps are in Afghanistan. These rockets sometimes hit Afghan civilians, and the Afghan government has been pressuring the Pakistanis to stop the rocket fire. But the Pakistanis want the Afghans to go after these Taliban camps. The Afghans protest that they have not got the manpower. So the camps remain, the rockets keep coming and the dispute festers.  

American commandos hauled away large quantities of al Qaeda secrets after the May 2nd raid on bin Laden's Pakistani sanctuary. Lots of cell phones containing numbers for Pakistani military and intelligence officials. Lots of documents that discuss the cozy relationships between the Pakistani security forces and al Qaeda. The Americans are asking the Pakistanis embarrassing questions about all this, but the Pakistanis respond by publicly identifying and arresting those believed to have provided American intelligence with information about bin Laden. Lots of Pakistanis hate bin Laden and all he stands for, but the Pakistani military considers such talk treason, and is reminding everyone of that.

India has agreed to buy eight minesweepers from South Korea. India has increasingly looked elsewhere (besides long-time supplier Russia) for military equipment, and South Korea is one of the premier ship builders on the planet.

July 2, 2011: In eastern India, Maoists killed six farmers. This happens frequently, as the leftist rebels use terror to try and prevent rural residents from cooperating with the police. The Maoists also use kidnappings, beatings and verbal threats.

July 1, 2011:  India will help Sri Lanka expand its military schools, and help with training materials and methods.

In Baluchistan, a Swiss couple were kidnapped, apparently by Taliban, and taken to South Waziristan. Kidnapping is a major source of Taliban income these days.

June 30, 2011: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh), a Maoist rebel died in a gun battle with police. Meanwhile, in Kashmir, police found and disabled a roadside bomb containing four kg (9 pounds) of explosives.

June 28, 2011: In a recent BBC interview, the Pakistani defense minister admitted the obvious, that Pakistan had no chance of ever matching Indian conventional military power. The minister pointed out India's larger (by over five times) GDP and defense budget. He also allowed as how Pakistan believed India had the resources for at least 45 days of high intensity combat, while Pakistan could handle far less (no specifics were given.)

In eastern India (Jharkhand), three Maoist base camps were found and destroyed, forcing hundreds of Maoists to seek another hideout and place to live.

June 27, 2011: In Pakistani terrorist haven North Waziristan, a Taliban commander (Shakirullah Shakir) was killed. But not by a UAV, but by gunfire, from someone in a car, which then sped away. Shakirullah Shakir was in charge of training and using suicide bombers. This tactic, which often kills lots of civilians, often occurs in mosques, is unpopular with many Taliban members.

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh), four policemen died when their vehicle hit a Maoist mine.

 

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