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NightWatch 20100716


For the Night of 16 July 2010

South Korea-North Korea: South Korea's National Defense Ministry announced on 16 July that it will return to propaganda broadcasts against the North at the countries' border, Xinhua reported. Eleven loudspeakers have been set up and plans to send more than 1 million leaflets into North Korea have been completed.

This means the South has decided to raise tension by deliberately provoking North Korea. The North already has threatened to shoot at the loudspeakers from across the Demilitarized Zone.

India-Pakistan: The Foreign Ministers' talks in Islamabad yesterday have deepened suspicion and resentment, despite public statements that the Indians were pleased. Indian External Affairs Minister Krishna told the press, "I'm going back (to India) with the assurance from the highest level that information shared during Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram's visit here and the leads that have emerged from Headley's interrogation by the FBI and Indian investigators would be investigated. If these could help unravel the conspiracy and go after the culprits it could be the biggest confidence-building measure."

Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi thinks Krishna snubbed him and sidestepped Pakistan's concerns. In the joint press conference, the men described the talks as constructive -- which means they achieved nothing -- and agreed to meet again.

Subsequently, Qureshi insulted Krishna in public in saying today that the Indians are not ready for dialogue; are not "mentally prepared to engage in dialogue." Krishna fired back that his "mandate was very clear," implying the Pakistani expectations were not realistic and missed the point.

Comment: Since 26 November 2008, India single mindedly has pursued one issue with Pakistan: justice for the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks on that date. Every Indian initiative or response has put progress on terrorism based in and supported by Pakistan as the top issue for discussion, the condition for talks on all other issues.

Pakistan has indulged a fantasy in thinking the Indians would get over Mumbai after several years and move beyond it to issues such as water rights to the Indus. They made a strategic blunder in this assessment.

The Indians take away confirmation that Pakistan remains unserious about suppressing anti-Indian terrorist groups; about overhauling its intelligence apparatus whose support for the anti-Indian Lashkar-e-Taiba has never stopped; and about abandoning terrorism as an extension of state policy. Pakistan continues to be a state supporter of anti-Indian terrorism. That made yesterday's meeting a dialogue of the deaf.

Mumbai update. According to the Indians, David Headley, a U.S. citizen who helped plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks, said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) gave Lashkar-e-Taiba 2.5 million rupees ($53,000) to buy a boat to carry the Mumbai attackers from Karachi, The Times of India reported 16 July. The terrorists then hijacked an Indian fishing boat at the Pakistani maritime boundary to reach Mumbai.

Headley has identified two ISI officers who handled the attackers through a voice sample, and Indian investigators have information indicating that ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha met one of the handlers, Sajjid Mir, who is currently held in a Pakistani jail. All of the information has been shared with Pakistan, an Indian source said. Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi declined to address this information raised by the Indians.

Comment: The Indians are in a quandary. They know   -- because Pakistani analysts have found   -- that Pakistani military governments, especially that of Musharraf, have a record of advancing and deepening popular support for Islamic extremism, measured by the exponential growth in madrasahs during periods of military rule. A few years ago The Daily Times published an extensive expose that presented the data.

At the same time, politically, military governments tend to mend fences with India. Musharraf went so far as to propose a solution for converting the Line of Control in Kashmir into a permanent border.

The result of this combination of policies is that Kashmir becomes less violent but anti-Indian terror increases. Thus, under Musharraf's tenure Kashmir devolved into a law and order problem for India, tourism increased and India began withdrawing soldiers. However, Pakistani intelligence supplied and financed the LeT attack against Mumbai in November 2008, three months after Musharraf resigned as President.

Elected civilian governments in Pakistan restrain the growth of Islamic extremism, including the proliferation of madrasahs, but do so by using Kashmir human rights and self determination to generate popular and Army support.

The result of this combination is increased infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir State during the past two years that has slowed the return to civil normality in Kashmir.   However, there have been no new major LeT terrorist attacks against India.

Under both forms of government Pakistani intelligence avoids executive control by switching its emphasis, alternately supporting terrorism against India or Kashmiri militants.

Lately, India is pressing an advantage in that the elected Pakistani government shares India's concern about the threat of Islamist terror and even a takeover of government at some point. However, the Zardari-Gilani leadership in Islamabad seems to lack the power, and maybe even the knowledge, to control the extremists. The Indians remain willing to help them, to be sure, as this week's talks showed.

Pakistan: President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to extend the tenure of Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani for two to three more years, The News reported 16 July, citing an unnamed source. The source said an announcement would be made within three days.

A major purpose of this extension is to keep Kayani out of internal politics. No Pakistani Chief of Army Staff could turn down such an offer, especially when it promises him the opportunity to shape the armed forces as he sees fit. Kayani has the chance to surpass Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff.

Security. Pakistani intelligence agencies have warned of possible attacks by extremists on foreign embassies, consulates and foreigners working in Pakistan, reported 16 July. The agencies said the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan plans to attack Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Sharif, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday and the justices' families, The Daily Times reported. Security has been increased in Punjab and other parts of Pakistan for possible targets.

Pakistan-Afghanistan-NATO: Pakistan will impose restrictions on NATO cargo destined for Afghanistan following the disappearance of thousands of shipping containers carrying weapons and other supplies, The Nation reported 16 July, citing an unnamed source with the Pakistani Federal Board of Revenue.

The Board and the Commerce Ministry will impose the restrictions. The director of Custom Intelligence in Sindh and Baluchistan, Zahid Khokher, said criteria will be established soon for upcoming shipments. Tracking devices will be placed in each container to avoid theft and damage, according to Khokher. He said it would also be helpful for customs intelligence to maintain a record.

A NightWatch precept about insurgency is that the government and its allies always support both sides. Logistics systems are always porous and poverty induces good people to sell their weapons, ammunition and uniforms, even.

The new measures are a testament to that precept because they imply government awareness of the threat it implies. Meanwhile, the costs of shipping overland from Karachi just went up. They are already estimated to be in $ thousands per container with no guarantees anything will arrive on time or in usable condition. The railroad from the North Sea across Russia to Turkmenistan is more secure, higher volume and less expensive than the roads from Karachi to Kabul or Kandahar.

A cynical Reader might infer that the decline in road shipments via Karachi, resulting from the switch to higher capacity and more secure Russian rails, is the primary factor in Pakistan's new found concern to improve container security. The issue appears to be less about security than to regain market share.

Mexico: For the record. Several news services reported on 16 July that a cartel used a car bomb for the first time in Ciudad Juarez, a border town opposite El Paso, Texas.

Several years ago, US ICE discovered in San Antonio a large quantity of supplies useful in making improvised explosive devices. Neither car bombs nor IEDs have been used by the cartels though the know-how and obvious utility of these devices are demonstrated daily in Afghanistan news reports. The cartels obviously have the capability to build and use these weapons, and have had for years.

What has been absent is the will to escalate cartel violence in this fashion. A single event is only a portent of a second event of that type, provided the attackers found the results valuable. The reported results of the explosion suggest somebody went to a lot of trouble and destroyed a perfectly decent car for little obvious return. Terror effects include novelty, initiative, great press for a day, sensationalism, but not much else, such as large numbers of body parts and burning buildings.

It is hard to imagine that pre-modern Afghans and Pakistanis can build better car bombs than Mexican drug thugs, but that seems to be the case, based on this attack. The learning curve is steep and rapid for roadside bombs, but random gunfire, targeted murders and leaflets are cheap and effective terror tactics, compared to car bombs.

Whoever designed this weapon will need another trial to determine whether the cartel should adopt car bombs as a tactic.

End of NightWatch for 16 July.

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