Despite growing domestic, and foreign pressure the Pakistani military refuses to stop (or even admit) its support for Islamic terrorists. This is becoming embarrassing for many Pakistanis as a growing list of former Pakistani officials (especially retired diplomats and generals) admit that the Pakistani military has been lying for decades and continues to consider the “secret” program to support Islamic terrorists a perfectly legitimate method of evening up the military imbalance between India and Pakistan. This Pakistani program has been going on since the 1980s and it was back then that India began pressuring Pakistan to shut down the Pakistan based Islamic terror groups that specialized in attacking India. At the time India got no help from the West because Russia had invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and was in the midst of a ten year effort to suppress resistance to an Afghan government run by local communists. Pakistan was the front line in aiding the Afghan rebels, who saw their resistance as a religious war against atheist Russian communists. The Cold War was still going on and India, while officially neutral, had long been an ally (and admirer) of Russia and a major export customer for Russian weapons. India still has a powerful Communist Party but after the Cold War ended in 1991 India and Russia began to drift apart and India gained more international support for its efforts to expose and halt the Pakistani use of Islamic terrorists. Two decades of that pressure has convinced many Pakistanis that this secret war tactic had not only failed but was also counter-productive. So far the military leadership, despite growing internal dissent, has refused to come clean and shut down their “good Islamic terrorists” (as opposed to the bad ones who wage war against Pakistan).
Over the last few years civilian Pakistan government have agreed to crack down Islamic terrorists in Pakistan who attack India. But the Pakistani military quietly refuses to cooperate. So there are still over a dozen Islamic terrorist training camps in Pakistani Kashmir to support operations in Kashmir. These Islamic terror groups have a lot of fans inside Pakistan, especially with senior military and intelligence officers. That is why Pakistan based Islamic terrorists continue fighting along the Kashmir border and on the Indian side of the border as well.
In 2016 India offered to share intelligence with Pakistan about anti-Pakistan Islamic terrorists operating inside Pakistan. India revealed that it has a lot of terror related intel that Pakistan does not have. In particular India knew a lot about what ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) was doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan. India also had information about other Islamic terrorists who are not suitably grateful for the decades of support the Pakistani military and intelligence (ISI) have provided. So far the most the Pakistani military will do is trade useful tips. If India provides information that leads to shutting down a dangerous (to Pakistan) Islamic terror operation in Pakistan India gets a similar tidbit about something going down inside India. This is infuriating to the Indians because most of the Islamic terrorist activity inside India is directly or indirectly benefitting from Pakistani support. A growing number of Pakistani military and intelligence officials are noticing that supporting Islamic terrorism is becoming impossible to get away with. But a large minority of Pakistani generals and intel officials believe in radical Islam and the goal of Islam conquering the world. Such beliefs are immune to reality. That attitude, in a country with nuclear weapons, adds to the sense of urgency in making a permanent change in the Pakistani practice of secretly supporting Islamic terrorism.
This change in popular attitudes is another side effect of the Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan. This has been going on since mid-2014 and has allowed the army (and some journalists) to examine a lot of mosques and religious schools (madrasas) that had long been off-limits to the security forces. What was found was ample evidence that many mosques and most madrasas were basically part of an extensive Islamic terrorist infrastructure. The madrasas not only indoctrinated Moslem boys to be Islamic terrorists but took those who agreed to be killers and trained them. Mosques and madrasas were also found to have hidden (at least from public view) rooms for storing weapons, building bombs, training Islamic terrorists and housing veteran (but wanted) Islamic terrorists. In other words, what was found in North Waziristan changed minds among Pakistani officers who were either neutral on Islamic terrorism (at least when it was outside Pakistan) or enthusiastic supporters. There were also a lot of documents captured in these Islamic terrorist hideouts and hundreds of Islamic terrorists were captured and talked. So did many local civilians who had long been silent because the Islamic terrorists executed (or worse) informers. All this evidence said the same thing; the Islamic terrorists were far more powerful and numerous than thought and many of them were willing to destroy Pakistan in an effort to turn the country into a religious dictatorship.
This attitude adjustment also led to Pakistani officials admitting that they had provided sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban since 2002. This has long been common knowledge but until recently no one in the Pakistani government would admit it. This new openness was also facilitated by revelations that most of the civilians in North Waziristan, when allowed to give an honest opinion, said they backed the American use of UAVs to find and kill Islamic terrorist leaders. While this sometimes caused civilian casualties it mainly hurt the Islamic terrorists and civilians quietly approved of this. Some even risked their lives to provide targeting information for these UAV attacks. The same thing happened in Afghanistan, where U.S. officers were often approached by tribal leaders asking for more aerial efforts to find and attack Islamic terrorists.
Afghanistan is becoming increasingly aggressive in demanding that Pakistan end the sanctuary it has provided the Afghan Taliban since 2002. Afghanistan points out that recent security agreements between the two countries obliges Pakistan to shut down all Islamic terrorist sanctuaries. Afghan officials also accuse Pakistan of controlling much of what the Afghan Taliban does, including ordering terror attacks inside Afghanistan. If Pakistan refuses to comply with this request Afghanistan is threatening to take the matter to the UN and other international tribunals. Meanwhile the main Afghan Taliban sanctuary remains in Quetta. This is the capital of Baluchistan and just south of the Taliban homeland in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Quetta was always off limits to the American UAVs and remains a sanctuary despite constant and increasingly angry calls from the United States and Afghanistan to shut down the sanctuaries. Pakistan has long been dismissive of Afghan protests and either ignores them or dismisses them with denials. The reality is that Pakistan considers Afghanistan a client state. The Afghans are considered a collection of fractious tribes pretending to be a nation. With no access to the sea, most Afghan road connections to ports are with Pakistan. The Afghans resent this and are supporting a Chinese financed effort to upgrade a port in neighboring Iran and extend highways and railroads to the Afghan border. This will replace the dependence on Pakistani roads.
While the 2014 anti-terrorism campaign in Pakistan has reduced Islamic terrorist attacks inside the country (by more than half) there is growing anger at the military using its ability to arrest terrorist suspects anywhere to also pick up and imprison anyone seen as an enemy of the military. Many of those arrested somehow disappear. This practice is not new and has been used for over a decade against Baluchi tribal separatists in the southwest (Baluchistan). Pakistanis are also increasingly hostile towards the local version of the CIA (the ISI, which is controlled by the military). It was the ISI that took the lead in establishing Islamic terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan and is now blamed for losing control of these violent groups, as many of them turned against Pakistan and killed thousands of Pakistanis. ISI is also seen as incompetent for not being able to provide any proof that India is supporting any kind of terrorism inside Pakistan. The army continually makes this accusation against India but never provides any proof. The military thought that their 2014 campaign against Islamic terrorists in the northwest would make them popular but it didn’t work out as planned. Still the number of civilians killed by Islamic terrorists was reduced by half in 2014 and by half again in 2015. Those deaths seem to be headed for a similar reduction in 2016. That means civilian victims of Islamic terrorism in Pakistan will have gone from 3,000 a year in 2012 and 2013 to less than 600 for all of 2016. The generals seem have forgotten how long they denied there were any Islamic terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan. Most civilians knew that North Waziristan was just such a sanctuary. So there was no surprise, or gratitude, when the army finally shut down the Islamic terrorists based in North Waziristan.
India Upgrades Defenses
India has decided to expand and upgrade its electronic security fence in the northwest (Kashmir) to cover its entire 2,900 kilometer border with Pakistan. The new fence design is called five layer because it uses multiple sensors (vidcams, night vision cameras, thermal imagers, ground surveillance radar, seismic sensors and laser barriers) to provide layers of surveillance that intruders have to penetrate to get into India undetected. All the sensors are linked to control centers which can deploy rapid reaction forces or aerial surveillance as needed. All this will make it still more difficult for Islamic terrorists to get into India.
The largest security threat inside India remains leftist Maoist rebels in eastern India, which account for nearly 60 percent of all terrorism and rebel related deaths. While the Maoists are in decline, they will continue to have some popular support as long as the government does nothing about the corruption and economic problems in areas where the Maoists have long thrived.
India has finally, after years of negotiations, placed an order for 36 Dassault Rafale Fighter jets. This includes accessories, training, tech support and a ten year maintenance contract. All this drives the per-aircraft price up to $247 million. India has had a lot of problems, mostly political, not technical, in modernizing its air force.
May 18, 2016: In northwest Pakistan (Peshawar) two Islamic terrorist bombs left one dead and nine wounded. Attacks like this are increasingly difficult to carry out because a growing number of Pakistanis will phone in suspected Islamic terrorist activity. The main motivator here is self-preservation because the Islamic terrorists don’t care if their attacks kill a lot of civilians. So the civilians are fighting back and a lot more Islamic terrorists are being caught and their safe houses raided and shut down. This results in the loss of many weapons along with bombs and bomb components.
May 16, 2016: As usual Pakistan blamed India for the recent American decision to cut military aid because of Pakistani refusal to end its support for Islamic terrorism and curb its nuclear program. The U.S. government can no longer ignore the popular anger at Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism and the associated risk that the growing number of nuclear weapons Pakistan is building makes it more likely that Islamic terrorists will get hold of one. Pakistan says it will buy modern jet fighters from China but Pakistani pilots are more confident in their F-16s than in whatever China has to offer. Pakistan is already the largest customer for Chinese arms exports but the Chinese, unlike the Americans, do not give stuff away or offer big discounts on expensive items like jet fighters. So in the long run Pakistan will spend more depending on China for weapons.
Meanwhile many Pakistani elected officials (including prime minister Nawaz Sharif) are under pressure to resign because the Panama Papers revelations linked them or their families to secret offshore bank accounts. The military promptly dismissed many officers who were identified in the Panama Papers. Most of the officers dismissed had worked on border security and apparently took part in the drug gangs using bribes to get their opium and heroin into Pakistan (and then to the world via the port of Karachi). Bribes were also used to get industrial chemicals into Afghanistan so the opium could be refined into heroin. Many politicians, including the prime minister, have also been discovered to have Panama Paper links but these are insisting they are innocent. There is a growing anti-corruption movement in Pakistan but the corruption is so extensive that it is believed a minority of senior government and military officials are not corrupt. Many of the politicians identified in the Panama Papers come from wealthy families and can make a case for the offshore accounts not containing any money stolen from the government. Many Pakistanis are not convinced. India and Western nations were alarmed that some of the Pakistani officers dismissed because of the Panama Papers revelation were associated with the nuclear weapons program.
May 14, 2016: In
Bangladesh an elderly Buddhist monk was hacked to death in a rural temple. This appears to be the work of Islamic terrorists who have been increasingly active with this sort of violence. For example on April 25th Islamic terrorist assassins killed two more “enemies of Islam” and the killers were recently arrested. The April victims were killed because they supported freedom from persecution for homosexuals. Two days earlier an Islamic terrorism critic, a university professor, was killed and a few weeks earlier the Islamic terrorist death squads killed two more people who displeased the Islamic radicals. In 2014-15 there was 2-3 such deaths a month but that is increasing again. Only about one percent of the population is Christian (and eight percent Hindu) the majority (nearly 90 percent) are Moslem. While a minority of those Moslems are sympathetic to Islamic terrorists who are “defending Islam” the majority of the 15o million Bangladeshi Moslems oppose this and are becoming more active in trying to eliminate Islamic terrorism in the country. Actually Bangladesh has far less Islamic terrorism activity than most other Moslem nations. For example, with 75 percent of the population of Pakistan (which is used to be part of until 1971) it has less than two percent as many Islamic terrorism related deaths. Bangladesh had 56 Islamic terrorism related deaths in 2015, down from 60 in 2014 and a record 379 in 2013. The 2013 surge was 69 percent of all Islamic terrorist deaths since 2005 and a sign that Islamic terrorism continues to have a difficult time getting a foothold in Bangladesh. Actually most of the terrorism related deaths were political rather than religious but in the last few years Islamic terrorism has gotten a lot more attention in the news. The government is also increasing its cooperation with India and the United States in identifying and tracking Islamic terrorists. Its efforts like this that have kept Islamic terrorist activity low in Bangladesh.
May 12, 2016: In Pakistan a court sentenced five convicted Islamic terrorists to execution for their role in the deaths of over fifty Pakistani Shia. Such prosecutions (and actual executions) have increased in the last few years in part because of more pressure from neighbor Iran and the twenty percent of Pakistanis who are Shia.
May 11, 2016: In eastern Afghanistan (Paktika province) a force of American and Afghan commandos rescued Ali Haider Gilani, the 30 something son of a former (2008-2012) prime minister of Pakistan. Ali Haider Gilani was kidnapped in 2013 while in central Pakistan. It is unclear who kidnapped him and the attack that freed him was against an al Qaeda group. Four Islamic terrorists were killed during the operation, which was apparently not specifically for rescuing Gilani. It is believed al Qaeda had bought Gilani from another group in an effort to use Gilani to obtain the release of al Qaeda leaders jailed in Pakistan. Trading or selling prominent captives is common, as is using them to try and get important Islamic terrorists released. Gilani’s father was removed from his post as prime minister in 2012 by a Pakistan court investigating a corruption case.
May 7, 2016: In Pakistan (Karachi) a very active critic (Khurram Zaki) of Pakistani military support for Islamic terrorists was shot dead by unidentified gunmen. Zali was also active in denouncing Islamic terrorism in general, often via the Internet. Vocal critics of the military and Islamic terrorists tend to get murdered in Pakistan.
April 29, 2016: Indian and Burmese troops have begun joint patrols along parts of their mutual border. This is one result of a mid-2015 Burmese agreement to cooperate with India to prevent Indian rebel groups from establishing bases inside Burma.