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The Pakistan government made a big effort to protect Shia citizens during the annual Shia religious celebration of Ashura. For generations Islamic radical Sunni groups in Pakistan have killed Shia for being heretics. This Sunni attitude goes back over a thousand years and Islamic conservatives keep the hate alive. The arrival of al Qaeda and the Taliban in the last three decades made it worse because these two groups are more violent and carry out more attacks. In Pakistan many of these attacks are directed against Shia Moslems. In the past year over 300 Pakistani Shia have been killed in such attacks. That’s about five percent of all terrorist deaths in Pakistan. For Ashura this year Pakistan deployed a lot more troops and police to where Shia were holding religious ceremonies and also shut down cell phone service for several days, to eliminate a favorite terrorist method of detonating bombs. All this disrupted a lot of attacks. In addition to attacks on Shia, Sunni radical groups also attack other Islamic sects found in Pakistan, like the Ahmadi.
The Pakistani military is getting more public criticism over the amount of money it gets. Critics are making much of the fact that Pakistan spends $35 per Pakistani per year on the military, while spending only $24 per Pakistani on health and education. As a result of this Pakistan has some of the lowest education and health levels in Asia. India is much better off in this respect because they spend more on health and education. Worse, in the last four decades the poor have gotten poorer in Pakistan and the rich (especially military officers) have gotten richer. Whatever the military has been doing, it has not helped most Pakistanis.
Pakistan successfully launched a Hatf V ballistic missile. With a range of 1,300 kilometers, the missile can reach most of India. Pakistan sees missiles like this as essential to making Pakistani nuclear weapons a real deterrent to Indian invasion. The Indians are building an anti-missile system, with Israeli help and Pakistan is building more missiles and nuclear warheads in an attempt to create the capability to overwhelm these Indian defenses. Meanwhile, Indian politicians, press, and public opinion all show no enthusiasm whatsoever for an invasion of Pakistan. There is, however, fear of Pakistan based Islamic terrorists making more attacks on India. Pakistan refuses to admit that this threat exists.
India, Australia, and Indonesia are forming an alliance to protect their control over and access to the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile China is trying to interest India in an Indo-Chinese coalition that would rule the seas. India is less interested in this one. While India is keen to increase trade with China, India is put off by continued Chinese insistence that large parts of India belong to China. Most of China’s neighbors are uneasy with growing Chinese aggressiveness over ancient territorial claims.
November 27, 2012: In the Pakistani capital a prominent journalist escaped death or injury when a bomb was discovered under his car. The bomb was disabled and was believed to have been placed there by the Taliban, which had threatened the journalist for his anti-Taliban broadcasts. Terrorist attacks are not the only risk Pakistani journalists face. The military will arrest troublesome (to the military) journalists and prosecute them on invented charges, or use death squads to simply make unwanted critics disappear. Since the judiciary had its independence and power restored three years ago some judges have used “contempt of court” charges (which can get you jailed) to silence critical journalists. Gangsters and religious leaders with large followings will also use violence against media critics. If Pakistan sounds like an unpleasant place to live, it is. This can be seen by the fact that 2-3 percent of the population flees (usually illegally) each year, for jobs or new homes overseas.
November 25, 2012: In Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) a Taliban bomb killed five (and wounded over 70) at a bakery.
On the Kashmir border Pakistani border guards opened fire with assault rifles and machine-guns on ten Indian border posts. Indian troops estimate some 6,000 rounds were fired and the Indians fired back a lesser number of bullets. There were no casualties and Pakistan insisted they were provoked in some unspecified way. India has found that most of these incidents are meant to distract Indian border guards so that Islamic terrorists can cross the border from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir.
November 24, 2012: In Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) a Taliban bomb killed eight Shia (and wounded over 30) attending a religious celebration.
November 23, 2012: Pakistan suspended cell phone service for the weekend in several towns and cities where Islamic terrorist were expected to make attacks against Shia Moslem religious ceremonies. Cell phones are frequently used by terrorists to remotely detonate explosives. Moslem religious holidays are a favorite time for Islamic terrorists to make attacks. A similar (but shorter) cell phone service shut down was used last month during Sunni religious holidays.
November 22, 2012: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) Islamic terrorists attacked two police checkpoints, killing three policemen.
In southwest Pakistan (Quetta) a roadside bomb was used against a school bus carrying children of army officers, killing three soldiers and three civilians.
November 21, 2012: In Pakistan (Rawalpindi) a Taliban bomb killed 23 Shia (and wounded over 60) attending a religious celebration. There were several smaller attacks against Shia elsewhere in Pakistan.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and NATO signed an agreement to increase cooperation along the Afghan border with Pakistan. Both sides agreed to let each other know if they have troops operating within four kilometers of the border and to coordinate troop movements if both countries have troops near each other in the border area. This is meant to avoid friendly fire incidents and make it easier to kill or capture Islamic terrorists.
November 19, 2012: In the Pakistani tribal territories, the Taliban used a female suicide bomber in another failed attempt to kill Islamic radical cleric Qazi Hussain Ahmed. These attacks have been going on for seven months, ever since the Pakistani Taliban decided that Ahmed’s criticism (that the Afghan Taliban were the only true Taliban and that the Pakistani Taliban were un-Islamic for trying to seize control of the Pakistani government) must be stopped. Many Islamic radicals in Pakistan (most notably the Pakistani Taliban) believe the government of Pakistan (either an elected one or one run by generals) was “secular” and a puppet of the infidels (non-Moslems, mainly the United States). Elsewhere in the tribal territories two more bombs left five dead.
November 18, 2012: Police in eastern India (Jharkhand state) arrested two Maoist gunmen belonging to a revenue generating branch of the communist rebel organization. The two arrested men were enforcers, who attacked, and sometimes killed, merchants and wealthy individuals who did not pay their “revolutionary taxes” to the Maoists. Elsewhere in the east (Chhattisgarh state) Maoists killed a policeman.