India-Pakistan: Virtue Becomes A Threat

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February 28, 2015: The Pakistani army expects to end its offensive in North Waziristan by the end of 2015. That offensive began in June 2014 and has left over 1,600 Islamic terrorists dead. Security forces there and countrywide have arrested over 20,000 Islamic terrorism suspects. This anti-terrorism got an additional boost with a horrific December 2014 attack on an army run school that left 150 dead, most of them children. What Westerners don’t understand is that the attack on the school was not about education but an ancient feud over who is practicing Islam correctly. Islamic terrorists are all about being “more Islamic than thou” and killing those they believe do not measure up. Too many Pakistanis who say they oppose Islamic terrorism also agree with the Islamic terrorists would join together to fight non-Moslems (like Indian Hindus). This particular angle is apparent in opinion polls taken in Pakistan and other Islamic countries but rarely makes an impression in the West.

Fighting continues in North Waziristan and adjacent areas many Islamic terrorists have fled to. Most of the fighting now is soldiers searching buildings or other potential hiding places (forests, caves) for Islamic terrorists who have kept their weapons. There is less risk at checkpoints although these tend to be heavily fortified and ready for attacks (suicide bombers or gunfire).

There is another military campaign going on that the Pakistani generals are less eager to brag about. In Kashmir Pakistani troops continue violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement by firing on Indian troops across the LOC (Line of Control) with machine-guns and mortars. This happened nearly 700 times since June 2014, leaving 24 Indians dead, 16 of them civilians. Pakistan has suffered more casualties because many of these attacks were to provide a distraction so that Islamic terrorists based and trained in Pakistan could sneak into India. There is another reason for these unprovoked attacks as they are apparently an important part of an effort to keep the Pakistani Army “India is preparing to attack us” conspiracy theory alive. The official Pakistani Army position is that India starts these incidents by firing first but there is little evidence of that and even the Pakistani government is at a loss as to why their military continues to allow these incidents to happen. India believes these attacks are often used to distract Indian border guards to assist Islamic terrorists trying to cross the LOC. Meanwhile the Pakistanis will claim that any Indian return fire was “unprovoked”, especially if any Pakistani civilians (which the Pakistani army does not seem too concerned about) are killed by the return fire. Pakistani generals believe India can’t really do anything because of the risk of nuclear war. But more and more Indians are turning that around and theorizing that if Indian troops crossed the LOC and seized the Pakistani half of Kashmir and all those Islamic terrorist bases they could at least get Pakistan to agree to shut down their “good” (only attack India) Islamic terror groups. The Indians believe the Pakistanis would not start a nuclear war over this and that sort of talk showing up in Indian media with increasing frequency has got Pakistani leaders concerned.

Afghanistan admitted that it had an arrangement with China whereby Afghanistan would seize and turn over to China any Chinese Moslems (especially Turkic Uighurs) found in Afghanistan. This recently led to a dozen Uighurs arrested in Afghanistan being sent back to China. In return China increases the diplomatic and economic pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting Islamic terrorists attacking Afghanistan. China is the largest foreign investor in Pakistan as well as the main source of modern weapons, so when China talks Pakistan must listen and at least pretend to act.

Afghanistan is also working directly with Pakistan to get the government and military there to shut down Islamic terrorists groups, like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network that have long enjoyed sanctuary in Pakistan as long these two groups were not violent inside Pakistan. The Pakistani military and the ISI intel agency are the main supporters of the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network and other groups that only attack outside Pakistan (mostly inside Afghanistan and India). Getting the Pakistani government to agree to shut down these terror groups is easy, getting the Pakistani government to actually do it is another matter because in Pakistan the military and ISI can defy government orders and only a major change in public opinion towards Islamic terrorism will generate enough pressure to get the military and ISI to back down. That pressure has been building since 2001 as there has been more Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan and more Pakistanis turned against this religious violence. But pro-Islamic terror Pakistanis are still a large, stubborn and often violent minority. Eliminating support for Islamic terrorism in Pakistan is a slow process and no one has come up with a way to speed it up.

The Pakistani generals have made it clear that they are cooperating with Afghanistan more closely than ever before in dealing with Islamic terrorism along the border. The Afghans are getting more Pakistani intel and cooperation in going after Pakistani based Islamic terrorists who have been forced into Afghanistan by the Pakistani Army offensive in North Waziristan that began last June.  Apparently the issue of the Pakistani sanctuary for Afghan Taliban in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) is now open to negotiation. That sanctuary has been operational since late 2001 and Pakistan long insisted that the sanctuary didn’t exist, despite abundant photo and eyewitness evidence that known Afghan Taliban were operating openly down there. Despite this spirit of cooperation there are still a lot of people inside ISI who resist and believe more support for Islamic terrorism is what Pakistan needs.

Despite that the pressure on Pakistan continues to show results. Thus the Afghan Taliban, fearing that their sanctuary in southwest Pakistan may be in danger from growing anti-terrorist attitudes in the Pakistani government, have told their protectors (the Pakistani military) that they are willing to negotiate a peace deal with the Afghan government and move out of Pakistan. At the same time the Pakistani military insists that it has, for the first time, driven the Haqqani Network out of its sanctuary in northwest Pakistan. Some Pakistanis doubt that but Afghanistan reports a lot more Haqqani crossing into eastern Afghanistan and setting up new bases there.

Pakistan has agreed to go through with a Russian offer to sell it Mi-35 helicopter gunships. This is the export version of the most recent upgrade of the Mi-24. Back in November Russia agreed to sell Pakistan up to twenty Mi-35s. The recent Pakistani decision to go through with the purchase did not mention quantity.  The quantity of Mi-35s to be obtained by Pakistan may be related to the army calling for all the helicopter gunships it can get, as these aircraft have proved a key weapon in the battles against Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. The government, however is short of cash at the moment. The Russians are not known for offering generous credit terms like they did in the Cold War, but deals can be made if the long term benefit is attractive enough. The Russian offer to sell Pakistan weapons came as a surprise. That’s because India has long been the largest export customer for Russian weapons. But India is becoming disillusioned with Russia as a weapons supplier. Late deliveries, quality problems and inadequate support are all complaints that India finds Russia has no solutions for. So Russia apparently feels free to sell to India’s archenemy Pakistan. After all, Russia has long been the major weapons supplier to the other Indian archenemy; China.

Bangladesh is sliding into political and economic chaos because the two major political parties, which have been bitter rivals for decades, have both resorted to escalating violence and voting fraud. The UN is trying to arrange peace talks but at the moment the leaders of the Awami League and BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) refuse to negotiate until the other side makes a bold move. But the Awami League refuses to hold new elections right now and the BNP refuses to halt its violence. Since early January Bangladesh has been paralyzed by this political deadlock. After BNP lost the last elections (and was in power before that) it has been using violence to enforce a nationwide transportation blockade to protest corruption (which its leaders are also guilty of, but not as successful at) and force new elections immediately. This has paralyzed the economy (costing over $10 billion so far) and left over a hundred dead (mainly from BNP thugs attacking those violating the blockade). The army insists it will not step in and take over, as it has done twice since 1971. The current crises got started in 2009 when Bangladesh finally held its long delayed (by corruption, violence and military rule) elections. The secularist Awami League won 230 of 300 seats in parliament, and formed a government. The Islamic groups failed to attract many votes. Nevertheless, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Islamic radicals still use Bangladesh as a base for terrorist operations inside India. However, the lack of local support, and energetic counter-terror operations across the border in India, has led to most of these Islamic terrorists getting arrested. BNP never came close to a majority and despite the reality of its much reduced popularity still had millions of supporters and growing conviction that it was corruption not loss of popular support that kept it from power. This growing belief in conspiracies and subterfuge led BNP to become more violent. Both parties have used violence but there began a cycle of escalating violence and this led to the current deadlock. The most recent round of accusations include BNP officials being arrested for trying to convince senior army officers to intervene in favor of the BNP.

February 26, 2015: In Bangladesh a prominent blogger and critic of religious extremism was attacked and killed (with machetes) while his wife was badly wounded. Islamic terrorists claimed responsibility. The victim had lived in the United States for a long time and was a U.S. citizen, although he was born in Bangladesh. His blog gave him an international audience for criticism directed mainly at Bangladeshi Islamic extremists, who regularly made death threats against the blogger.

In Pakistan the air force declared its first AWACS (Air Warning And Control System) squadron operational. In 2010 Pakistani air force commanders visited China and inspected the first of four AWACS type aircraft that were delivered to Pakistan starting in 2011. There followed years of technical delays as the Chinese strived to master the needed technologies. This aircraft looks more like the American AWACS (with a round radar dome on top) but is smaller and carried by a four engine turboprop aircraft. The KJ200 (also called the KJ2000) AWACS that has been in service since 2005. There are over a dozen KJ200s in service plus four of the export model (ZDK-03) in Pakistan. Pakistan paid $300 million each for the ZDK-03s. China is developing a more advanced AWACS; the KJ500.

Pakistan ordered telecommunications companies to use an electronic fingerprint system to verify all owners of cell phones and SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards. This is another response to the December Taliban massacre of 132 school children in an army controlled school. The fingerprint system provides another opportunity for gangsters to make money as the cost of black market cell phones and SIM cards has now gone up.  This is the latest of many attempts to prevent Islamic terrorists and other outlaws from misusing cell phones. In mid-2014 Pakistan tried to block the use of SIM cards from Afghanistan. In most parts of the world you can move your cell phone service from one phone to another by simply removing the small (25x14mm) SIM "card" from one phone and inserting it in another. SIM cards can also be bought just for the minutes stored on them. Police have long noted that terrorist bombs are often set off using a cell phone with an anonymous SIM card. It's not uncommon to raid a terrorist hideout and find hundreds of anonymous SIM cards and Pakistan believes that Islamic terrorists are increasingly using SIM cards from Afghanistan to get around government efforts to control illegal use of SIM cards bought in Pakistan. This effort has been going on for a while. In 2013 Pakistan announced that there were four million unidentified (many presumed illegal) SIM cards in use for cell phones nationwide. Since the owner of these SIM cards is not known, such unidentified SIM cards can be used by outlaws avoiding detection. The government could order all these SIMs disabled but that would cause an uproar because most of them are being used by ordinary citizens rather than gangsters or terrorists.  In response to this situation, the government ordered SIM card vendors to only deliver new SIM cards via mail rather than by hand. This was unworkable because people often need a new SIM card immediately because the existing one is now useless and they want their cell phone operational right away. People are supposed to carry ID with them, but fake ID is easily available, at least to criminals and terrorists.  That why the new effort relies on electronic fingerprint tech. Since 2008, Pakistan has tried, without success, to block the anonymous use of cell phones. This usually involves unidentified SIM cards but now there are phones modified to operate without the mandatory IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) numbers. Such phones tell the phone companies nothing about the phone.

February 25, 2015: In northwest India (Kashmir) Indian soldiers searching for Islamic terrorists spotted a day earlier caught up with the two men and in a running gun battle eventually cornered the two and killed them. Islamic terrorists often refuse to surrender. Captured Islamic terrorists are a good source of information but these men, trained and indoctrinated in Pakistani camps, are taught to never surrender and most die fighting. These encounters, often triggered by a civilian providing a tip, often lead to finding the weapons and other military equipment the Islamic terrorists hide in rural areas. Some of the line crossers are porters who deliver quantities of equipment, weapons and ammo and then return. This stuff is then hidden in small batches (one or two firearms, some ammo and communications gear that can reach Pakistan).

February 24, 2015: Another new enemy for the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistanis in general are members of existing Islamic terrorist groups who have defected to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and gone to war with a Taliban (and other Islamic terror groups) they see as sell-outs and reactionary Islamic radical pretenders. Now the local branch of ISIL has announced it is setting up its headquarters in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) and is planning operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. There been a growing number of fatal clashes between ISIL and other Islamic terrorists in the Pakistani tribal territories. ISIL has attracted most of its recruits from the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and released a video showing a former leader of a Pakistan Islamic terrorist faction now becoming a leader of the Pakistani branch of ISIL. More are expected to follow. For the hard core Islamic terrorist ISIL is the way to go. But ISIL will find Baluchistan a hostile environment. The local tribes are hostile to the government, but for political not religious reasons. In fact these tribal rebels are not friendly to Islamic terror groups in general and that could cause problems for an ultra-hard core group like ISIL.

The U.S. State Department warned visitors to Pakistan to be extra careful about security because of the current high incidence of Islamic terror attacks and government counter-terror operations. Non-Moslem foreigners are a particular target of Islamic terrorists in Pakistan.

February 23, 2015: In Pakistan police arrested one of the six known perpetrators of the December school massacre. This man, Taj Mohammad, was one of the sub-commanders of the operation. The Pakistanis believe that 27 men were directly involved in the school attack. While nine were killed inside the school compound the rest were elsewhere and all but five of these 18 men have since been identified and arrested.

February 18, 2015: In the Pakistani capital four people died when a suicide bomber made an unsuccessful attack on a Shia mosque. In addition to the bomber one security guard and two bystanders died outside the mosque. The attacker was apparently a Sunni Islamic terrorist. Shia are 20 percent of the population and increasingly targeted by Sunni Islamic terrorists who believe Shia are heretics and must be killed for forced to convert. This Sunni violence against Shia has been going on ever since Pakistan was created after World War II and for centuries before that.

February 17, 2015: In eastern Pakistan (Lahore) a suicide bomber attack on a police headquarters left four dead. The b0mber was stopped outside the police compound. In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) a major Taliban financial operative was cornered and killed.

February 16, 2015: The Indian government approved a plan to spend $16 billion building more warships to counter the Chinese naval threat in the Indian Ocean. Among the new ships will be six nuclear submarines, at least one new carrier plus stealthy frigates and other surface ships. The major obstacle here is the inefficient, disruptive and unpredictable procurement bureaucracy. Thus the result tends to be ships that take many more years to be completed and the quality of the work is often substandard. Most of these problems are due to the widespread corruption. The anti-corruption political parties have been winning more elections lately and the current Indian government (and other established parties) fear that the next national government will be dominated by politicians elected by voters demanding decisive action against corruption.

American officials publically agreed with Pakistani claims to have destroyed much of the Islamic terrorist infrastructure in North Waziristan since June 2014. Pakistan has also quietly resumed its cooperation with the United States UAV campaign that searches for Islamic terrorists and attacks them with missiles. This can be seen in the increased number of attacks.

February 15, 2015: In southwest Pakistan police raided a hotel room and tried to arrest Usman Saifullah Kurd, an Islamic terrorist leader responsible for attacks that have killed hundreds of Shia Pakistanis since the 1990s. Kurd was armed as was an associate with him. Both men died in a gun battle along with one of the policemen.

February 14, 2015: In northwest India (Kashmir) Pakistani troops fired three mortar shells across the border and Indian troops returned fire. No casualties were reported by India but Pakistan claimed the return fire killed a civilian. Earlier in the day Indian troops fired on three or four armed men who crossed the border from Pakistan.

In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) Islamic terrorists killed another polio vaccination worker. In the southwest two polio vaccination workers and two security personnel were reported missing. They were found dead on the 18th.

February 13, 2015: Former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf admitted what had long been known; that Pakistan has been supporting Islamic terrorism within Afghanistan for decades and continues to do so. Musharraf also accuses India of doing the same but there is little evidence of that. Many Pakistanis believe (and the ISI and the military encourage this) that India is responsible for most of the Islamic terrorism violence inside Pakistan.

In northwest India (Peshawar) Islamic terrorists attacked a Shia mosque leaving 20 dead and 45 wounded. Four attackers wearing military uniforms were involved and not all made it into the mosque compound because of security and local civilians intervening.

China officially opened its new embassy compound in Pakistan. This is China’s largest embassy. China is the largest supplier Pakistan’s weapons and foreign investment. China is also the most effective critic of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism. China does this by telling Pakistan to fix the situation (when it involves Chinese citizens or investments inside Pakistan) or see China go from being a helpful to becoming a hostile neighbor. Given China’s place as Pakistan’s most important ally and investor, these requests cannot be ignored. This is in sharp contrast to similar requests from the United States, India, Afghanistan and Iran.

February 12, 2015: In northwest Pakistan police announced the arrest of 12 of the 18 known perpetrators of the December school massacre. Elsewhere in the northwest (Khyber) airstrikes left seven Islamic terrorists dead and 15 wounded.

The Indian Air Force is openly accusing Russia of not sharing with India technical details of what is going on with the development of the new Russian “5th generation” T-50 (or PAK-FA) stealth fighter. This is the Russian answer to the U.S. F-22 and according to the Indians, who have contributed $300 million (so far) to development of the T-50, they are entitled by the 2007 agreement with Russian to have access to technical details of the aircraft. In 2014 Indian air force officials accused Russia of trying to conceal development problems. The Russians were accused to refusing to provide development updates as often and in as much detail the Indians had been accustomed to. The Indians know from experience that when the Russians clam up about a military project it is usually because the news is bad and the Russians would rather not share. All this began in late 2013 when Indian pilots and aviation experts who had examined Russian progress noted that the T-50 as it was then put together was unreliable. The Russian radar, which promised so much has delivered, according to the Indians, insufficient performance. The Indians also noted that the T-50s stealth features were unsatisfactory. Instead of answers to these criticisms are the Indians are getting in 2014 are excuses and promises. Russia insists this is all a misunderstanding.

Pakistan rounded up and deported 450 Afghan clerics (imams) who had long been operating in Pakistan. This is seen as payback for increased Islamic terror violence in Pakistan. Afghan Islamic terrorists are blamed for helping carry out the December Taliban attack on a Pakistani school. This attack by the Pakistani Taliban outraged most Pakistanis who demanded, among other measures, that Afghans in Pakistan illegally be expelled. Getting rid of Afghan clerics was considered a priority because many of these clerics preach a harsh form of Islam that encourages support for Islamic terrorists. Most of the expelled cleric operate in the tribal territories, as they have since the 1980s when well-funded Saudi Arabian missionaries arrived to set up schools for Afghan refugees from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban was created by Pakistani intelligence (ISI) which recruited the first generation of students from these fundamentalist religious schools. ISI armed these young men and sent them back to liberate and rule Afghanistan as a religious dictatorship. That did not work out as well as the ISI expected. In addition to expelling the foreign religious teachers there is also an effort underway to expel thousands of foreign students attending the madrassas (religious schools). Most of those expelled will be those found to be in the country illegally.

February 11, 2015: In the east (Nangarhar province) an American UAV fired missiles and killed nine Pakistani Taliban, including a leader wanted for helping plan the December attack in Pakistan that killed 132 children. This missile attack was part of a larger operation in the area that found and shut down five Islamic terrorist bases and captured many suspects as well as documents and weapons.

February 10, 2015: A former (1990-92) director of the Pakistani intel agency (ISI) said that ISI and the military probably knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan. The U.S. government official position is that the Pakistani government did not know where bin Laden was hiding out. This is a diplomatic position to take as many Pakistanis do not believe it when there government officials claim they did not know where bin Laden was.

 

 

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