The Pakistani military continues its latest propaganda effort to convince Pakistanis that India is a threat. This time the military is again stressing the idea that India is responsible for all the Islamic terrorism violence in Pakistan as well as the tribal separatist violence in the southwest (Baluchistan). Outside of Pakistan these accusations are generally seen as baseless and absurd. But the Pakistani military has been pushing it for decades and it has found some traction. In an effort to get India to actually threaten Pakistan the military also creates constant border violence. For decades the Pakistani military has had its troops or irregulars firing across the border (usually Kashmir) at Indian troops and then denying it. Since 2003 India thought it had an agreement with Pakistan to drop this fantasy of Pakistan not supporting unofficial attacks on India. This violence did sharply decline for a few years, and the artillery fire (which was difficult to deny, as irregular forces don’t have howitzers) ceased. But the phantom violence soon returned. So is the military publishing all sorts of paranoid conspiracy theories in the magazines and newspapers it controls. These lurid tales explain how all Pakistan’s problems can be traced back to Indian schemes and conspiracies and that the best way to deal with this is to fight fire with fire. A growing number of Pakistanis are willing to admit that this Indian threat and secret war is a fantasy and that India means what it says; that it has no designs on Pakistan. But the Pakistani military won’t allow that, as without an Indian threat the huge (as a percentage of GDP) Pakistani military budget cannot be justified. As the number of believers in these myths declines the generals get more desperate to hang on to their illegal wealth and power. But as more Pakistanis turn against their military they also have to face the fact that the military is their best defense against the growing Islamic terrorism. While this threat was created by the military in the 1980s and nurtured ever since, it is clear that there is no negotiating with these fanatics, whose goal is turning Pakistan into a religious dictatorship and whose methods involve endless violence against civilians. The generals quietly admit that the Islamic terrorists are a larger and more immediate threat to Pakistan, but never push that admission in the media as loudly as they do the one about how it is all the work of India.
Afghanistan and Pakistan signed an intelligence cooperation agreement. Some senior Afghan officials do not agree with this deal because they believe the Pakistanis cannot be trusted. The Afghans are most upset at the continued Pakistani refusal to shut down the Taliban sanctuary in Baluchistan (just across the border from Kandahar and Helmand provinces). The U.S. has been instrumental in persuading (some say bribing or coercing) both sides into these intelligence cooperation deals.
In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) tribal separatist rebel violence persists and the separatists are now competing with growing Islamic terrorist violence in the area. The separatists and Islamic terrorists tend to stay out of each other’s way but both group cause growing problems for the security forces, especially because many attacks are against the security forces. This includes bombings, ambushes and assassinations. There is also growing use of economic attacks. The military has responded by carrying out a kidnapping and assassination campaign against the tribes. This is illegal and often targets the wrong people. But the government has been unable to halt the military misbehavior in Baluchistan, or anywhere else.
Pakistan has apparently received the first three of twenty Chinese WZ-10 helicopter gunships. Pictures of two of them together have appeared. These first three were announced as a gift and were quickly delivered so Pakistan could try them out. This appears to have led to an order for 17 more. Or not, as the WZ-10 sale has been kept quiet. If Pakistan does buy 17 more WZ-10s it would be the first export customer. Pakistan has now put the WZ-10s into service and appears to be satisfied with their performance.
Despite an upsurge of tribal separatist violence in the northeast, India continues its operations against its largest terrorist threat. It isn’t Islamic terrorists but rather leftist communist rebels operating all over eastern India. The government is developing a new social and economic policy for the areas suffering Maoist violence. Meanwhile the government has kept the military out of this operation, instead mobilizing 100,000 police personnel most of them in special counter-terror battalions and smaller police commando units. The anti-Maoist campaign is one of patrols, raids and constant intelligence gathering. In 2009 the Maoists dismissed the initial government mobilization of 75,000 police, paramilitaries and commandos to go after the rebels. Many Indians thought this effort was doomed to failure. The Maoists certainly were not going to be intimidated into surrender. But the government was eager to curb Maoist power, if only to reduce the damage Maoists are doing to the local economy. Attacks on economic targets rose from 70 in 2006 to 85 in 2007, to 110 in 2008 and even more in 2009. Railroads (stations and tracks), electricity transmission lines and mobile phone towers were the main targets. While the offensive did not have the immediate effect the government had hoped for it did have a big impact on Maoist strength (decreasing it) and activity (less violence). More rural people turned against the Maoists. As always the best ally the Maoists had was the continued rural corruption. Yet after decades of Maoist violence the rural people had come to reject the Maoists as well. Most of the hard core Maoist support is now in urban areas where communism still has many fans. The growing anti-corruption campaign throughout India points out that the anti-Maoist effort would go better if there were less corruption in rural India. Even many Maoists agree with that.
In Indian Kashmir security forces have intercepted three Islamic terrorist attempts to get people across the border during the last two weeks. Some of these infiltration efforts succeed, which keeps the Islamic terrorist violence going in Kashmir. The infiltrations that are detected usually result in a few dead Islamic terrorists and several more who escape back into Pakistan.
China is apparently putting its aggressive territorial claims against India on hold, the better to concentrate on the South China Sea. This has led to Japan and the Philippines entering into discussions over the terms for the establishment of Japanese navy and air force use of Filipino military bases. India is in touch with the nervous nations that border the South China Sea.
June 5, 2015: In Pakistan the government admitted that the rumors were true, that eight of the ten men convicted of trying to kill Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousufzai were secretly set free rather than sent to prison for life. In April, eight months after Pakistani police arrested ten men involved in the attack on Malala Yousufzai in 2012, it was announced that a court convicted all ten and sentenced them to life in prison. After the attack the 15 year old Malala Yousufzai fled to Britain, along with her family, to receive better medical care and protection from Taliban threats to hunt her down and finish the job. That threat still stands. The Pakistani Taliban still insist they have the right to kill women who criticize Islamic radical ideas. The Taliban initially responded to the media uproar over the Malala Yousufzai attack by declaring war on journalists (especially foreign ones) and promising murder attempts against the most troublesome journalists. That helped limit how long the media uproar over shooting lasted. Islamic terrorism still has a lot of popular support in Pakistan, where paranoia about an American led (and Indian supported) war on Islam remains a popular excuse for all that is wrong inside Pakistan. But the pressure to hunt down and punish the Taliban who organized the assassination attempt on the teenage girl continued and eventually the government identified and arrested many of the Taliban involved in planning and carrying out that attack. All ten were from the same area (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) where Malala Yousufzai lived with her family. Some of those arrested admitted that the attack was ordered by Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. It does not surprise most Pakistanis that these Islamic terrorists were set free (for “lack of evidence”) because it is accepted by most Pakistanis that Islamic terrorists have a lot of friends within their own government. If some Pakistani official will not cooperate the Islamic terrorists will use murder or kidnapping to change minds and decisions. Pakistan is not a nation of laws but one of terror and fear. Increasingly anyone who openly protests this violence and blames the military is threatened or killed by what many Pakistanis are calling terrorists working for the military.
Pakistan announced a new defense budget (for the year beginning July 1st) that would be (at $7.8 billion) 11 percent higher than the current budget. Neighboring India spends over $40 billion a year on Defense.
In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) three days of air attacks in the Shawal valley have left over 30 Islamic terrorists dead. This is one of their last hideouts in North Waziristan as well as an ancient smuggling route into Afghanistan and base for many smugglers. The army moved several thousand troops into the area for this operation which is being supported by artillery, warplanes and helicopters (transports and gunships). The infantry have not yet advanced and will not do so until the Islamic terrorists have been demoralized by air and artillery attacks. The Pakistanis are cooperating with Afghan troops in the other side of the border to share information and coordinate operations to minimize the number of Islamic terrorists who try to move their operations into Afghanistan.
June 15th will be the one year anniversary of the North Waziristan offensive which, so far, has killed less than 150 soldiers (mostly from roadside bombs and landmines), over 2,600 Islamic terrorists (real or suspected) and forced over a million civilians to flee their homes. Some refugees are returning now as the fighting in currently confined to the remotest areas of North Waziristan. The army deliberately used tactics that limited troop casualties, in order to maintain morale. Air power and artillery were used extensively and civilians were warned to get out of the way (which most did).
As dozens of Islamic terrorists bases were captured and destroyed in North Waziristan several thousand Islamic terrorists fled to Afghanistan and other parts of Pakistan (the northwest, the southwest and major cities like Karachi). Taliban activity, and terrorist related deaths, have increased in the areas they fled to. Yet all this disruption reduced nationwide Islamic terrorist related violence somewhat but has definitely not eliminated it. The loss of all those bases in North Waziristan, along with weapons, ammo, equipment and bomb building workshops has left the Islamic terrorists ill equipped to cause as much mayhem as usual. This is a big deal in Pakistan where since 2009 there have been over 10,000 terrorism related deaths a year. Not just in the tribal areas but also in the major cities, where the murder rates are much higher than other countries (like all the neighbors and most Western cities). Nearly all the culprits caught or killed in since 2009 turned out to be Pakistanis for foreign Islamic terrorists. No Indians, except the occasional Indian Moslem terrorist. Over half the victims of this violence are civilians while only 10-15 percent are soldiers or police and the rest real or suspected terrorists. It is estimated that Islamic terrorist violence has cost Pakistan over $100 billion since 2001. The Islamic terrorism violence in Pakistan sharply increased after the Pakistani Taliban was formed in 2007 (via a coalition of existing Islamic terrorist groups). The operations in North Waziristan have led some Pakistani factions to announce they are renouncing violence and turning to political activity to achieve their goals. There are already a lot of Islamic radical political parties in Pakistan and they are a major force in parliament and local politics. But other Taliban factions have announced they are joining ISIL and thus going for even more extreme violence.
June 4, 2015: In northeast India (Manipur state) tribal rebels ambushed a military convoy killing twenty soldiers.
May 31, 2015: In southern Pakistan (Punjab) Taliban assassins killed a prominent local politician and his son. This is how the Taliban obtain the cooperation of local politicians.
Apparently the Pakistani military leadership decided that it was time to try and get all this terrorist violence out of the news and ordered troops to open fire on Indian border guards in Kashmir. The military then announced that the Indians fired first.
In northwest India (Kashmir) at least three Islamic terrorists, who had apparently recently arrived from Pakistan, attacked an army camp. Three of the attackers and a nearby civilian were killed during the failed attack. The army suffered no casualties. Troops are searching for two attackers who are believed to have fled.
May 30, 2015: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) tribal separatist rebels stopped two buses, identified the 22 passengers who were not Baluchi and killed them. Most of the dead were Pushtun (who comprise about a third of the population in Baluchistan).
May 26, 2015: In Pakistan (outside Karachi) a bomb on the tracks wounded twenty passengers. These attacks have been less frequently because of better security, but are still a threat.
May 24, 2015: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a roadside bomb meant to kill the son of Pakistan’s president missed its target and killed three civilians and wounded 15. Separatist tribal rebels took credit for the attack.
In northwest India (Kashmir) Islamic terrorists began several days of attacks on the cell phone system. Some 40 percent of the 3,000 towers in Kashmir were damaged and cell phone stores were attacked and cell phone companies threatened. It took over a week to repair most of the damage but the threats are still hanging over those who sell the phones or maintain the service. This sort of attack was pioneered by the Afghan Taliban and one of the threatening (to cell phone company personnel) posters left at night in Kashmir was signed by a new (to Kashmir) Taliban faction. India sees this campaign as another desperate effort by much weakened (over the last five years) Islamic terrorists in Kashmir to get some relief from continuing attacks. But the cell phone service is very popular with the majority Moslem population the Islamic terrorists say they fight for. That popularity is why such anti-cell phone campaigns ultimately failed in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). The Kashmir Islamic terrorists no longer care much about public support because they have lost most of it after two decades of violence and not much to show for it. Meanwhile the government is buying cell phone jammers to be deployed in border areas where Islamic terrorists are trying to sneak into Kashmir from Pakistan. The Islamic terrorists depend on the cell phones too.
May 18, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV missile attack killed six Islamic terrorists. This comes two days after another attack in the Shawal valley that killed over a dozen and was the first such attack in Pakistan since mid-April.