For the Night of 17 March 2010
North Korea-US: Update. North Korean authorities allowed Swedish diplomats to have meetings with the American citizen held since January for illegal entry into the North from China.
News services carried no additional details as to his status or prospects.
India-Pakistan: Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said Pakistan is not making enough of a serious effort to dismantle the 42 active militant camps within its territory, Press Trust of India reported 17 March. Antony said despite their issues, India is committed to exploring all options with Pakistan, though he does not expect any miracles. Regarding the issue of increased infiltration of Pakistani-based militant outfits into India, Antony explained that Kashmir was returning to normality, which those opposed to India will not tolerate.
Note: In one week Pakistan has experienced the one-two punch of Home Affairs Minister Chidambaram and Defense Minister Antony on matters of security. The pressure campaign continues.
Pakistan: The Daily Times published a reminder that most of the top 29 senior generals in the Pakistan Army must retire, including Chief of Army Staff General Kayani, unless he is extended. This is a normal rotation.
The significant point of the article is that the new class of Lieutenant Generals who will command the Army Corps by this time 2011 will not have served in the 1971 India-Pakistan War, the last million-man war fought on the sub-continent. That makes this year's rotation a watershed event.
All the officers who fought in 1971 had much greater exposure to Western military forces, traditions, practices and institutions than those who did not fight in that conflict. Many received advanced military education in the UK and the US.
Their replacements have had much more experience with Chinese equipment, forces, traditions, institutions and practices during a time before the Chinese began to mimic the U.S. military. As a group, the post 1971 generals tend to be more suspicious of and closed to the West plus stricter in their Islamic religious observances.
Pakistan-US: Update. A U.S. State Department official said Pakistan cut a visa backlog that has affected U.S. officials and contractors that manage American aid programs aimed at combating extremism, Reuters reported today.
The spokesman said the backlog was cut by more than half. He told a House of Representatives subcommittee that the United States and Pakistan are developing a "more cooperative, constructive relationship."
Comment: Whatever was bothering Pakistan last year when the harassment began seems to have passed. This is tonight's good news.
Mexico: The Mexican Navy is releasing details on a shootout between Mexican Marines and 60 heavily armed suspected hit men for the Zetas. The Mexican Navy says marines raided a ranch in Bustamante, Nuevo Leon late Sunday, some 70 miles west of Falcon Lake, Texas. The Navy said the shoot out began when a convoy headed to the ranch opened fire on a Mexican helicopter. Two helicopters supported 50 marines as they "stormed" the compound and killed 8 suspected Zetas. The rest scattered. No arrests have been reported.
The Mexican Navy allowed cameras inside the ranch called La Languilla. The compound has four cabins. The main cabin looks like a hunting lodge. There is a trophy room with bucks mounted along the wall. A stuffed bear and puma were also found. Marines also found rooms were they say the Zetas slept and showered.
Note: The Mexican Marines were in a small unit engagement. That fact will not surprise those who follow the cartel violence closely, but it is a measure of the capabilities of the cartel paramilitary fighters.
Mexico-US: On Sunday, following the murders of three U.S. Consulate workers in Ciudad Juarez on Saturday, the U.S. State Department has issued an evacuation order for six U.S. Consulates in Mexico. They are the consulates in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, Tamaulipas State, and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon State.
End of NightWatch for 17 March.
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