Saving The Sanctuaries
August 15, 2011: In the Pakistani tribal territories, the Taliban recently used a female suicide bomber, for only the third time. The Taliban dont use a lot of suicide bombers, perhaps several a week, and most of the victims are civilians. This has made the Taliban very unpopular, especially because most of the bombers are teen-age boys from religious schools. This is generally seen as a perversion of Islam, especially by the parents, but those who run the schools see themselves as defenders of Islam and above criticism. Thus the primary target of Taliban terrorism is their fellow tribesmen in the tribal territories. Most of those murdered by Taliban death squads are tribal or religious leaders who will not work for the Islamic terrorists. Its often forgotten that the Taliban are fighting a tribal civil war, in addition to all their other goals (world domination and so on).
In most of the Pakistani tribal territories, the Islamic terrorists are on the defensive. In the last month, soldiers and police have killed more than 200 of the Islamic radicals, which is why more and more of them are fleeing to North Waziristan (the last part of the tribal territories the army will not enter) and large cities (like Peshawar in the tribal territories and Karachi, the largest city in the country and the home of over two million Pushtuns). The problem here is that Pakistan is willing to fight Islamic terrorists, but not destroy them.
In Kashmir, the Pakistanis have kept the border attacks down. According to the current peace deal, there are supposed to be none. But in June, there were two incidents of Pakistani troops firing across the Line of Control (which separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir) at their Indian counterparts. There were three in July. The Pakistani military has its own foreign policy, which is often at odds with that of the elected government. The military controls a large chunk of the economy and the government budget and wants to keep it that way. Military personnel, especially officers, live much better than average Pakistanis, and that good life will only continue as long as the military can continue to control so much of the economy. This explains why Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is constantly discussing war with India. It also accounts for the fact that the military has been fighting Islamic terror groups for a decade, but has never been able to defeat them. Until quite recently, this bizarre situation could not even be openly discussed in Pakistan (without risk of arrest or assassination). Its still dangerous to discuss the unique economic position of the military, but such talk is getting louder. This makes the military nervous, and desperate for a solution. Desperate people who have nuclear weapons are not a good thing.
The Pakistani terrorist strategy is failing in Kashmir, where the Islamic terror groups based across the border in Pakistan have been unable to sustain operations in Indian Kashmir. Most of the rank-and-file terrorists are dead, or have deserted. Police are now catching and killing more of the terror group leaders, who must be more active (and vulnerable) trying to keep their organizations functioning. But theres still a lot of anger and resentment among the majority Moslem population against Hindu India.
Political, ethnic and religious violence in Karachi, Pakistans largest city continues. So far this year, nearly a thousand people have died, with thousands injured. Because some of the major players here represent key political parties, the government has been reluctant to shut down the main instigators of the violence. In 1995, when there was a similar situation, the government did ultimately shut all the major contenders down. The key to doing this was seizing illegal firearms. As long as all those illegal guns are out there, the high casualties will continue. The army is pressing the government to take action, but the government is trying to broker a political settlement. The army does not like the economic damage the Karachi violence is inflicting, but does not feel strong enough to overrule the government.
In India, the offensive against the Maoist rebels is not going well. This has prompted the governments of the states hardest hit by the rebel violence ( Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand) to form a united anti-Maoist command center and coordinate their anti-Maoist operations. Meanwhile, the influx of 75,000 additional police has not increased Maoist losses, but has resulted in more dead policemen. The Maoists have lost many of their rural camp and, in general, have been forced to devote more time to security (and less to attacking the government or extorting money from businesses). As always, the government has failed to effectively address the social and economic problems in the countryside (where feudalism and corruption are rampant). These problems provide the Maoists with recruits, and support from many of the locals.
The anti-corruption movement in India is increasing the pressure on the government. Large demonstrations are more common, and the Internet has proved to be the corrupt officials worst nightmare. Amateur investigators use the web to publicize corruption, and this sort of pressure is forcing the government to act, or at least put on a convincing show of it.
|"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.
It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.
Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."
John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.