February 10, 2013: India and Pakistan are still trading charges about who was responsible for recent violence on the Kashmir border (LOC or Line of Control.) This latest dispute began when Pakistanis crossed the LOC and killed two Indian troops and beheaded one of them. Pakistan says that Indian troops did this to make Pakistan look bad. India responded that it has evidence that Pakistan is offering cash bounties (of up to $12,000) for individual acts of terrorism against Indian troops along the LOC. These risky attacks can be carried out by Islamic terrorists or off-duty Pakistani soldiers. All you have to do is kill or attack Indian troops, and you can get a $5,000 bonus for beheading one. Planting mines and carrying out dangerous missions that do not actually kill an Indian soldier will also be rewarded. Pakistan denies such a program, but the dead Indian troops and the growing violence on the LOC is undeniable.
Pakistan has had troops fighting the Pakistani Taliban for four years now and victory has always been out of reach. That’s because the military does not want to shut down all Islamic terrorist operations in the tribal territories. For over 30 years, the military has backed some Islamic radical groups so that terror attacks could be made on India and Pakistani groups hostile to the power of the military. Officially, such a policy does not exist. But as a practical matter many military officers make no secret of their pro-terrorist sympathies. The situation is made worse by the fact that the terrorist groups who are at war with Pakistan are on good terms with those that are not. Thus the army has been unwilling to send troops into North Waziristan to shut down the anti-Pakistan terrorist bases (mainly Pakistani Taliban) there because this would trigger a war with other (pro-Pakistan) terror groups and several large Pushtun tribes.
A decade of post-2001 anti-terrorist operations in the tribal territories (as demanded by the enraged Americans after September 11, 2001) led to the Pakistani government finally making an effort to fundamentally change the way things are run in the tribal areas. The century old agreement (between the British colonial officials and the Pushtun tribal chiefs) gave the tribes a lot of autonomy, in exchange for peace. This was continued when the new Pakistani government replaced British control in 1947. But over a decade of Taliban unrest has pushed the government to face the problem (of tribal governance) head on, and is beginning to tear up the 1901 agreement. Not all the tribal people, and their leaders, are unhappy with this. The Taliban terrorism has exposed the weakness of tribal government. Many believe that change can’t be any worse than what is happening now in the Pushtun tribal areas of the northwest. The government finds itself caught in a tribal civil war (between reformers and traditionalists) and the military’s own desire to protect the terrorists who work (more or less) for the generals.
The continued existence of North Waziristan as a terrorist sanctuary is causing more Pushtun tribals to protest this arrangement because most of the Taliban terror attacks are in the tribal territories. It’s more difficult for the Taliban to carry out terror attacks outside the tribal territories (more police, fewer sympathetic civilians) but all those attacks in the tribal territories kill a lot of innocent Pushtun, including women and children. According to Pushtun traditions this is considered very bad manners. So even many Pushtun are hostile to the army support for Islamic terrorists.
Another problem the army pro-terrorist policies is the growing difficulty of keeping Pakistani nuclear weapons out of the hands of Islamic terrorists. Since Pakistan began building nukes in the late 1990s it has tried to screen personnel who guard the atomic bombs to bar pro-terrorist officers and troops. This has not been completely successful and the army is concerned about the growing number of pro-terrorists officers and soldiers who have slipped past the screening and are now part of the nuclear weapon protection force.
Pakistan also has a growing problem with tribal violence outside the tribal territories. In Sindh province (which contains Karachi) the rural areas lack effective courts (as does the entire country) and rely on tribal organizations to resolve disputes. This works well within the tribe, but tribe versus tribe disputes often get violent. Last year there were 278 reported violent tribal disputes that left over 800 dead.
February 9, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Orakzai) air force bombers and helicopter gunships hit Islamic terrorist bases, killing over a dozen of the terrorists.
February 8, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Orakzai) a terrorist bomb went off in a marketplace that killed 16 people. Elsewhere in the territories (North Waziristan) a U.S. UAV fired missiles that killed nine Islamic terrorists. In southwest Pakistan tribal rebels attacked a military convoy, killing a soldier.
The Indian Army received the first (of over 60) gunship version (the Rudra) of the locally made Dhruv light helicopter.
February 7, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Orakzai) troops found and destroyed five Taliban camps and killed fifteen terrorists.
February 6, 2013: The Pakistani Taliban is offering a peace treaty to the government. There have been several of these peace deals in the past and all failed, usually because the Taliban said it could not control all of its factions or because the Islamic terrorists were not serious in the first place. The U.S. is opposed to another peace deal because they believe the Pakistani Taliban are asking for a ceasefire so they can better assist the Afghan Taliban (who are getting battered by foreign and Afghan troops).
The Pakistanis believe a peace deal this time might work. That’s because the Pakistani Taliban (especially the leadership) are suffering heavy losses from American UAV missile attacks. These UAVs, plus American surveillance satellite and an informant network on the ground, keep close watch on what terrorists are doing in North Waziristan. The terrorist leaders must spend a lot of their time just trying to keep their location secret. Thus the government believes that, in exchange for more pressure on the Americans to cut back on the UAV attacks, the Pakistani Taliban would halt its attacks on Pakistanis. The U.S. has now made it known that it will not go along with this deal and that the Pakistanis risk serious military and economic retribution if they try to halt the UAV operations against Islamic terrorists in their North Waziristan sanctuary. Pakistan denies that such a sanctuary exists.
In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) an American UAV used missiles to kill five Islamic terrorists.
February 5, 2013: In the Pakistani port of Karachi police raided a warehouse and seized three tons of hashish and 140 kg (308 pounds) of heroin. The hashish sells in the West for $10-20 million a ton while the heroin sells for more than ten times that. These drugs were apparently waiting to be smuggled to overseas markets via ship. Smugglers go to great lengths to hide these drugs in cargo containers or in non-cargo portions of ships.
February 3, 2013: Two years after agreeing to rebuild the underused Pakistani port of Gwadar (located near the Iranian border) China has taken control of the port area and is continuing construction work. The Chinese plan to also build a naval base that would be used by Pakistani and Chinese warships and aircraft. This is part of an effort to increase military cooperation between Pakistan and China and replace current reliance on the United States. But China is not willing to supply as much free stuff. Chinese military aid comes with a lot more strings attached. For example, while China is delivering fifty JF-17 jets (an F-16 knock off that Pakistan helped, largely with cash, to develop), it also expects to be paid. The U.S. gives Pakistan F-16s. But to many Pakistanis, this American aid does them little good. It benefits the military, making it more capable of imposing its will on the Pakistani people, while making the generals richer. The Gwadar project is supposed to be mostly about building better commercial shipping facilities and turning the port into a major center for exports and imports in southwest Pakistan. India believes there is not enough trade potential in that part of Pakistan and that the real purpose is to create a naval base for Chinese warships operating in the Indian Ocean.
February 2, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) several dozen Pakistani Taliban attacked an army camp, killing 13 soldiers while losing 12 of their own. The Taliban later said this was in revenge for the death of two of their leaders last month (who were hit by a U.S. missile). At the same time a suicide bomber entered the nearby compound of a government official and killed himself and eleven civilians. The army believes the attackers came from North Waziristan.
February 1, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) a terrorist bomb went off in a marketplace that killed 21 people. The Taliban said this was revenge for the murder of a Sunni cleric in Karachi yesterday. That killing was a reprisal for recent terror attacks on Shia civilians.
January 31, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (near the Khyber Pass) a suicide bomber attacked a Shia mosque during prayers and killed 25 people. Sunni Islamic terrorists have been killing Shia (whom they consider heretics) in Pakistan for decades. About 20 percent of Pakistanis are Shia.