November 21, 2013:
In Pakistan an Islamic political party (JI or Jamaat I Islami, with 4 of 342 seats in parliament) is demanding that the government order the army to stop criticizing JI for demanding that the army stop calling soldiers killed fighting Islamic terrorists “martyrs” and stop criticizing JI for insisting on calling the recently killed (by an American missile) head of the Taliban a martyr. Technically, the army is not supposed to get into public disputes with members of parliament, unless the army is taking over the government, which it has done regularly since Pakistan was founded.
In the Pakistani tribal territories (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) an American missile attack on a religious school run by the Haqqani Network killed six Islamic terrorists. This was a rare attack outside of Waziristan but was apparently triggered by recent Pakistani Taliban threats to make attacks against American and Pakistani government targets. This would be in revenge for the November 1st attack that killed the Haqqani Network leader. This was followed on November 10th, by the assassination (by gunfire) of a senior Haqqani Network official in Islamabad. This killing alarmed some politicians who thought the Haqqani Network was an Islamic terrorist organization that was only tolerated if it confined its operations to North Waziristan and Afghanistan (where it attacked foreign troops and the Afghan government). A year ago the UN added the Haqqani Network to its list of international terrorists. All UN members are supposed to go after international terrorists and Pakistan complied, on paper, by insisting that it was seeking to shut down the Haqqani Network. But that is not what was happening, as the Haqqani Network is still safe in North Waziristan. This may no longer be the case outside Waziristan, and especially outside the tribal territories.
Mullah Maulana Fazlullah became the new head of the Pakistani Taliban on November 2nd. His predecessor, Hakimullah Mehsud, was widely considered a butcher, especially compared to earlier Taliban leaders. In the four years that Hakimullah Mehsud ran the Taliban he increased the use of assassinations against journalists and politicians who were most critical of the Taliban. Mehsud also increased attacks against civilians, including targeting women (as in the attacks against the female volunteers providing polio vaccinations for children). In short, Mehsud was much feared and the public grief was to show support for the new leader of the Taliban and indicate to Taliban assassins who their friends were (who did not deserve to be killed in the revenge attacks). The new leader has a similar reputation as Mehsud, is a highly effective preacher (especially on illegal radio stations), and managed to rule the Swat Valley for several months as an "Islamic state." This was a disaster for the people of Swat, who welcomed the army when it returned in 2007 and again in 2009. Mullah Fazlullah violated a peace deal he had agreed to and fled to Afghanistan in 2009, and has been on the run ever since, with a $5,000 reward (from Pakistan) for his capture or death. Mullah Fazlullah moves back and forth across the border and believes in terrorizing civilians and has no problem with killing women and children and now he threatens to go after Pakistani politicians and military leaders. For that reaso,n today’s UAV missile attack may generate fewer complaints from Pakistani politicians.
Meanwhile, some Pakistani politicians are still trying to get peace talks with the Taliban started. This is proving difficult, especially with the recent killing of the Taliban leader. In the last decade the Taliban has broken several peace agreements with the government and many senior Pakistani government and military officials see any further negotiation attempts as futile. There are many Islamic conservative political parties (who amount to a sizable minority) that believe a peace deal is possible (and some want a religious dictatorship for Pakistan) and this keeps negotiation efforts going.
Islamic terrorist violence in Pakistan was down 50 percent last month. Still, 135 died during 122 attacks. Most of these occurred in the tribal territories (the northwest), Baluchistan (the southwest), and Karachi (the largest port and city in Pakistan). Some 64 percent of the dead were civilians and most of the rest (44) were soldiers and police.
As Indian military analysts, especially those working for the media, switch their attention from Pakistan to China they are being forced to face some unpleasant facts. The most unpleasant of all is that the Chinese forces are better equipped and that situation is getting worse for India. This is a bitter new reality for Indians to deal with. For decades, when Pakistan was the main foe, India always had the technological edge, in addition to spending more than five times as much on defense and having nearly twice as many troops. But in the last decade the Pakistani threat has declined and China has become the main antagonist. China has about as many troops but spends more than three times as much as India on defense. Increasingly, Chinese forces are equipped with more modern gear and more of it than their Indian counterparts. Now India knows how Pakistan has felt for so many years and it is not pleasant.
India is seeking to lease another Russian nuclear submarine. This was prompted by the recent loss of a Russian made Kilo sub to an accidental explosion and continuing delays in building new diesel-electric and nuclear subs in India. India has offered to supply the cash to complete an Akula class nuclear sub that Russia halted work on in the 1990s because of money shortages. Once completed (in about four years), the sub would enter Indian service. All this would cost India about a billion dollars. This would be the third time India leased a Russian nuclear sub.
This is part of Indian efforts to do something to improve its rapidly declining submarine force. India is also talking to German manufacturers about upgrading the four German subs in Indian service so these boats can fire Harpoon anti-ship missiles. India also wants to upgrade the 48 AEG-SUT Mod-1 heavy torpedoes that (in addition to naval mines) arm the Indian U209s. There is also a search for someone to supply towed sonar arrays for sixteen Indian surface ships. India has delayed upgrading submarine detection equipment on these ships and now seeks to make up for that and then some by obtaining towed sonar array gear, which is the most effective submarine detection equipment available for surface ships.
The process of buying torpedo upgrades and towed sonar arrays is not so simple in a place like India. Consider some of the recent problems that have been encountered while trying to build six French Scorpene submarines (under license) in India. The problems are usually caused by poor management or politics. An example of this occurred earlier this year with the departure of ten Spanish technical advisors for the Scorpenes. Their contract expired at the end of March and, despite the expiration date being well known, Indian bureaucrats were unable to get a new contract in place on time. Similar avoidable delays have occurred several times already and the price has gone up with each delay. In 2012 it was announced that the first Scorpene sub would not be ready until 2015, because of similar screw-ups. The new delays push that to 2017. The hulls of all six Scorpenes have been completed, but filling those subs up with all the necessary equipment is an even more difficult task, in large part because India insists that some of that equipment be manufactured in India, and that introduces even more complications and delays. Indian firms have a spotty track record in this area.
November 20, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) an Islamic terrorist suicide car bomber attacked a military outpost and killed three soldiers and wounded seven others. Elsewhere in the tribal territories four Islamic terrorists were killed by troops. In the southwest (Baluchistan) bomb attacks killed two and wounded four others.
November 19, 2013: The Indian government formally agreed to spend over $11 billion to form a new Army Corps of 50,000 troops to be stationed on the Chinese border in areas that China claims.
In the Pakistani tribal territories (North Waziristan) an Islamic terrorist suicide car bomber attacked a truck carrying Islamic terrorists from another faction and killed seven of them. There are always feuds going on between various Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan, especially in the tribal territories, and these occasionally become fatal. The disagreements inside the Taliban over leadership choices has apparently created another deadly round of violence between Taliban factions.
November 18, 2013: In Pakistan the head of the state owned railroad system detailed how elected and military government had, for over a decade, plundered the assets of the railroads for the benefit of political supporters or military personnel. The growing public demand for an end to corruption is causing more serving and retired officials to go public with details.
The Indian Army successfully tested a new version of its BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. This version has a penetrating warhead and a more accurate guidance system for hitting bunkers and other well protected targets. BrahMos has a range of 290 kilometers and is a joint India-Russia version of the older Yakhont missile.
The Pakistani government announced that for the first time a former ruler, in this case general and self-appointed president Pervez Musharraf, would stand trial for treason. This would be for his imposing emergency rule in 2007. The prosecution of Musharraf is a major effort to halt the cycle of military rule in Pakistan. Since its founding in 1947, half the time Pakistan has been ruled by generals, who deposed an elected government and eventually allowed (to avoid a popular uprising) new elections. But the recent elected government was the first to succeed another elected government and the army is much less popular than it has been in the past. So the pressure continues to tame the military once and for all. Despite that, there is fear that the military will try to mount yet another government takeover.
November 16, 2013: In Indian Kashmir Islamic terrorists fired on an army convoy wounding a soldier.
In Pakistan the army was sent into three cities (Rawalpindi, Multan, and Chishtian) to restore order after violence between Shia and Sunni left nine dead and nearly a hundred wounded.
November 13, 2013: The Indian Navy announced that it plans to increase its strength from 136 ships to 200 in the next ten years. The larger force would include three aircraft carriers and several locally built amphibious ships and nuclear submarines.
Pakistan agreed to observe the 2003 ceasefire with India. This agreement had initially worked to reduce the incidents of Pakistani troops firing into India. India accused Pakistan of breaking this agreement with increasing frequency this year. Dozens of Indian border posts along the LoC (Line of Control, which separates Indian and Pakistani held Kashmir) have been fired on. So far this year India accuses Pakistan of violating the ceasefire over 200 times, more than all the other years since 2003 combined. Pakistan accuses India of firing first but the pattern of incidents on the LoC for the last three decades has been Pakistani troops starting the exchange of fire. Usually the Pakistanis just deny it, but this year they made a big deal of it all being an Indian ploy to start another war. The problem has been with the Pakistani military, which often ignores the government (unless when it is run by generals) when ordered to keep the peace on the Indian border. This time the elected Pakistani leadership believe they have convinced their generals to keep things quiet on the border. So far this month that has been the case.
Pakistan announced that polio cases so far this year had reached 62, which was more than all of 2012 (58). Polio cases reached a low of 28 in 2005, but then Islamic terrorist opposition to vaccination led to a sharp increase that hit 198 cases in 2011. Since then, government and religious leaders have sought to deal with resistance to the vaccination campaign. For example, last month Pakistani senior Islamic scholars issued a fatwa declaring that polio vaccinations are Islamic and not forbidden. In the Pakistani tribal territories (Waziristan) there has been another outbreak of polio and a third of the total cases have shown up outside the territories. A Taliban ban on polio vaccinations has left over 250,000 young children vulnerable to the disease, and these are most of the ones getting infected. While the fatwa helps, years of Islamic radical clerics preaching that polio is un-Islamic has caused a growing number of parents (from throughout the country) to refuse the vaccinations even when there is no Islamic terrorist threat of retaliation. This year about three percent of children failed to get the vaccination, either because of Islamic terrorists or parents believing the anti-vaccination propaganda. Polio should have been eliminated entirely by now but there has been resistance from Islamic clergy in some countries, who insist the vaccinations are a Western plot to harm Moslem children. This has enabled polio to survive in some Moslem countries (especially Nigeria, Somalia, and Pakistan). The disease also survives in some very corrupt nations, like Kenya and India, because of the difficulty in getting vaccine to remote areas, tracking down nomad groups and stopping corrupt officials from plundering the vaccination program (and causing many vaccinations to not happen). Islamic terrorists from Pakistan are believed responsible for a recent outbreak of polio in Syria.
Elsewhere in Pakistan (Mauripur, outside Karachi) police encountered a group of armed Islamic terrorists and ordered them to surrender. The terrorists refused and in a brief gun battle all six of them were killed (including two equipped with bomb vests and a wanted terrorist leader). Several policemen were wounded.
November 12, 2013: The Indian Navy put its first squadron of locally made Dhruv light helicopters into service. Dhruv entered service in 2002, with the Coast Guard, then the Army.
In eastern India (Chhattisgarh state) a Maoist landmine killed three civilians.
November 11, 2013: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh state) Maoist threats, and a few incidents of violence, failed to prevent most people from turning out to vote in state level elections.
November 10, 2013: Nasiruddin Haqqani, son of the Haqqani Network founder and leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, was murdered in Islamabad (the capital of Pakistan). An investigation was ordered and many politicians were surprised to learn that Nasiruddin Haqqani had been living openly in Islamabad handling the finances of the Haqqani Network.
November 8, 2013: Maulana Fazlullah, the newly selected head of the Pakistani Taliban, announced that his organization would seek revenge against Pakistan and the United States for the recent killing of his predecessor (Hakimullah Mehsud).
November 7, 2013: A growing number of Taliban leaders are openly opposing the appointment of Maulana Fazlullah as the new head of the Taliban (which is actually a coalition of over a dozen tribal and clan based Islamic terrorist organizations).