India-Pakistan: Desperate, Cornered And Willing To Kill


January 6, 2012: The Pakistani military is still feuding with NATO and its own government. This has been going on since the American raid into Pakistan last May, which killed Osama bin Laden. Both the U.S. and Pakistani politicians were appalled at the duplicity of the Pakistani military, which had always insisted it had no idea where bin Laden was. Pakistani politicians have always feared and despised their own military. During Pakistan's brief history (since 1947) the military has forcibly taken control of the government half the time. Usually, the reason given was massive corruption and incompetence in an elected government (accurate accusations). But this was often an excuse to settle a dispute between politicians and generals over who could steal what. The latest such incident was in 1999, when the military increased their unauthorized (by the civilian government) attacks on Indian troops along the Kashmir border. This led to a brief war (which Pakistan, as usual, lost). In response, the elected government tried to remove the head of the military (Pervez Musharraf) from his job, but instead Musharraf took control of the government. But, as always happens, the military eventually becomes very unpopular because they are no more effective at running the country than elected politicians. Musharraf and the military lost control of the government in 2008 and elected officials took over. The politicians then sought to curb the independence of the military. It was during this struggle (which involved a lot of posturing and threats by both sides), that the bin Laden raid occurred. The generals saw this raid as a major defeat. Now the military was seen as liars and incompetent. The military had always presented themselves as the least corrupt and most efficient institution in Pakistan. The military had also convinced most Pakistanis that the many (most of them invented by the generals) threats to Pakistan could only be handled by the military. The chief threat was India, which the generals insisted was always just on the brink of invading. Only the Pakistani military prevented this.

The Pakistani generals had adopted Islamic radicalism in the 1970s, so the generals could claim to be guardians of Islam as well. Thus, it came to be that the Pakistani military created the Taliban in the early 1990s and used this force to suppress the messy civil war in Afghanistan. But the Taliban idea (tribal religious zealots taking over the government) got out of hand, and after September 11, 2001 there arose a Pakistani branch which went to war with the Pakistani government. When ordered, by the newly elected 2008 government, to go after the Taliban, the military refused to finish the job, leaving the Taliban with safe havens in North Waziristan and Quetta. The generals still believed they could regain control of their terrorist creations. While many Pakistanis still believe in Islamic conservatism and the need to protect the country from external threats, it's increasingly common for Pakistanis to see their military leadership as a bunch of lying, self-serving, warlords. The Pakistani military has never won a war, but they have grown rich.

After a November incident on the Afghan border (where American aircraft attacked Pakistani troops mistaken for those who had just fired on Afghan troops in Afghanistan), the Pakistani military declared this a deliberate American attack and sought to use this incident to get the Americans, and Pakistani politicians, to stop pressuring the Pakistani military to go after Islamic terrorists and halt support for groups like the Taliban. As a result, NATO supplies moved via Pakistan have been halted at the Afghan border. Some of the supplies have been seized by Pakistani troops and NATO has ordered the 3,600 trucks stuck at the border for weeks to turn around and go back to the port of Karachi. NATO has been reducing the use of the Pakistani land route for years, because of the thefts and attacks, and now it looks like that shift will be completed sooner rather than later.

The Pakistani military also ordered most NATO military advisors and such out of Pakistan. NATO was still allowed to fly through Pakistani air space, the generals apparently concluding that trying to halt air traffic might get the Pakistani Air Force destroyed. The U.S. has halted over a billion dollars in military aid to Pakistan. Since the generals steal a lot of the aid money, this confrontation is hitting the Pakistani generals in their foreign bank accounts.

Negotiations between the U.S. and the Pakistani military have been carried out quietly, and the U.S. will only say that these talks will be concluded successfully shortly. When these negotiations are over there will be a winner, and a loser. The Pakistani government is also negotiating with its own military, publicly and secretly. Because these negotiations are partly public, and the military is increasingly being accused of killing and threatening journalists who do not toe the army line, one can surmise that the military is not doing well here either. There are more rumors of another military coup. The Pakistani generals appear cornered and out-of-control. What is to be done? The generals are using cash, economic clout, and terror to prevent the elected government from removing senior commanders and replace them with more democracy minded officers. The military knows how to play this game and has allies among civilian leaders and judges. Most Pakistanis expect the military to survive this crisis.

There were about half as many suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan last year compared to 2010. There were 51 suicide bomber attacks in Pakistan last year. These efforts killed 606 and wounded 1,002. Some 59 percent of the dead and 85 percent of the wounded were civilians. Most of the remainder were security personnel. Over 80 percent of the attacks took place in the Pushtun tribal areas along the Afghan border. Most of the rest took place in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) and only 10 percent of the attacks occurred outside the tribal areas. In contrast, there were 102 suicide bomber attacks in Afghanistan last year, leaving 675 dead.

January 5, 2012: Pakistani Taliban killed fifteen soldiers they had captured on December 23rd, after the government refused to release kinsmen of the kidnappers. The bodies were dumped in a remote part of North Waziristan. Further south, in Quetta (Baluchistan), a foreign aid worker (a Red Cross doctor from Britain) was kidnapped.

Indian officials, trying to negotiate a peace deal with Pakistan, complained that interference from the Pakistani military prevented a peace deal from being agreed upon. The Indians believe the Pakistani Army is addicted to the large chunk of Pakistan's GDP they receive each year and that they fear (correctly) the military budget would be cut if there were an official peace deal with India. Elected Pakistani officials openly admit that they cannot control their own military and that interference from their generals makes peace negotiations difficult. The generals have allies in the Islamic parties, which see India as an enemy of Islam and a permanent threat.

India is also upset about Pakistan's increasingly close relationships with China. Most of this has to do with Chinese economic investment in Pakistan. But even here, the Chinese insist on security and anti-corruption guarantees, which the Pakistanis are not able to provide for some projects (where the security is bad and corrupt officials too numerous). There are rumors that China is going to station troops in northern Pakistan, but Pakistan and China deny this.

January 4, 2012: Indian intelligence officials warn that Pakistan-based Islamic terror groups are training 21 women to carry out operations in Kashmir and the rest of India. Islamic terrorism in Kashmir has been declining for the past seven years and the terrorists are desperate to come up with some new tactic that will prevent them from being entirely wiped out there. The use of female operatives seems to be their latest gambit. While Islamic terrorists have frequently used women as suicide bombers, they have not trained a lot of women to be full time terrorists. But some women have taken over when sons, brothers, or cousins who were Islamic terrorists were killed. This came about despite the fact that Islamic radicals espouse a form of Islam that severely limits the activities of women outside the home.

In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) and the Pushtun tribal areas to the north, at least 21 tribal rebels were killed in several operations.

January 3, 2012: Indian officials reported that there were 1,500 violent incidents involving Maoist rebels last year. Most of this was in eastern India, where over 100,000 additional police and soldiers have been deployed to destroy the leftists. There has been some progress in the last year, but it's slow going.

January 2, 2012: Iran closed its Pakistan border. This was in retaliation for Pakistani troops opening fire on three Iranian border guards who were pursuing a Pakistani who was trying to sneak across the border. The three Iranian soldiers were captured, after two were wounded and one killed by Pakistani fire. Iran wants its men back, along with an apology. The two surviving Iranians are being charged with murder, for killing the Pakistani man they were pursuing.

January 1, 2012: Afghan Taliban have been negotiating with their Pakistani counterparts for the last two months, to achieve some kind of unified effort against "foreign (NATO) invaders" in Afghanistan. Now, the Pakistan announced they have made a deal where the many feuding factions of the Pakistani Taliban will unite to enforce a truce in Pakistan (no more attacks against the government or civilians) and send fighters into Afghanistan. The Pakistani military is expected to halt operations against the Taliban to make this work. Actually, the Pakistani military has halted most operations against the Taliban, only going after those who have been attacking soldiers. The Pakistani military would go along with such a deal, even if they denied it officially, but only if the terror attacks in Pakistan stopped. This would be difficult, as there are dozens of separate Islamic terror groups in Pakistan, and getting them all to agree on anything has proved impossible in the past.

A bomb went off in a market near the Afghan border, killing one anti-Taliban militiaman and wounding two others. To the south, in Baluchistan, several terror attacks left four dead and over a dozen wounded. These attacks were mostly related to tribal rebels trying to get more autonomy and money from the national government.

In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), four security personnel were killed in two attacks. Throughout the tribal areas about a dozen Islamic terrorists were killed.

December 31, 2011: In South Waziristan, Pakistani troops killed several foreign Islamic terrorists.

December 30, 2011: In eastern India (Bihar), Maoists killed three civilians and kidnapped four more (who were soon murdered as well). These operations are meant to terrorize civilians into supporting the leftist rebels, or at least not opposing them.

In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), fifteen died when a bomb went off in Quetta (the capital city of the province.)




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