India-Pakistan: Defeat Is Not An Option


July 15, 2015: In Pakistan the military and government agreed to continue the counter-terror operations in Karachi. Military involvement in policing cities has always been contentious in Pakistan but the situation in Karachi is considered a special case. The offensive against Islamic terrorists in the northwest, begun in mid-2014, uncovered (via prisoners and captured documents) plans by several Islamic terror groups to carry out a major expansion into Karachi (the largest city in Pakistan, where about eight percent of all Pakistanis live). In response the army has shifted forces to Karachi this year. There the battles are different and the Islamic terrorists have some unique disadvantages. Many Taliban fled the fighting North Waziristan and went to Karachi, which has a large Pushtun population. But for over a decade many of those Pushtuns have also moved to Karachi to get away from the tribal feuds and Islamic terrorists in the northwest. So when the Taliban show up in a Pushtun neighborhood they are often quietly reported to the police. Cell phones make this easy, and unlike the tribal territories, the Taliban cannot shut down cell phone service, even briefly, in Karachi. The main goal of the security operation in Karachi is to shut down (or greatly reduce) the criminal activities of the Islamic terrorists. These groups need money and they find it easy to use extortion and kidnapping to raise cash. The dozens of separate crews (often part of a larger Islamic terror group) have been identified pursued and killed or captured. Another target is the many religious schools that are actually bases and training centers for Islamic terror groups. Nearly 200 illegal religious schools were found in Sindh province (where Karachi is) and 44 of these were found to have links with Islamic terror groups. Most (24) of those religious schools are in Karachi and the government is going after all the illegal (refused to register and be monitored) religious schools, starting with those know to be used by Islamic terrorists. This could get ugly because sometimes the clerics running these schools call on their faculty and students to resist the government with force.

The June 2014 anti-terrorist offensive has killed nearly 3,000 Islamic terrorists country wide (but mostly in North Waziristan) and led to many more surrendering, deserting or fleeing to Afghanistan or other parts of the country. The military estimates that over 20,000 Islamic terrorists were in North Waziristan in June 2014. Nearly all of these Islamic terrorists have been killed or driven out of North Waziristan. Some 2,500 were captured, providing lots of information on Islamic terrorist operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the region. There has been a noticeable drop in terrorist attacks against civilians but intelligence specialists know that the terror groups are scrambling to reorganize and rebuild, so the war offensive continues but at a different pace and with different tactics. The army is also studying how to deal with tribal feuds once more. For centuries these have been the major cause of violent deaths in the northwest. Many Islamic terror groups in the northwest are based on tribal affiliation but grew larger by allowing outsiders (including foreigners) to join. With the suppression of most Islamic terror groups the military expects a return to the normal violence of heavily armed tribal militias fighting each other and outsiders (the security forces).

One of the secondary offensives in the northwest was in Khyber, which is next to North Waziristan. The Khyber operation is winding down and has killed nearly 400 Islamic terrorists (and the cost of nearly fifty dead soldiers). Most of these had fled North Waziristan and were trying relocate to Khyber. Some of those who survived the offensive moved across the border to Afghanistan and still return to plant landmines and stage ambushes. This is the major reason for the new cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan to share information on cross-border Islamic terrorists and work together to eliminate these groups. As part of this deal the Pakistani military has agreed that there will never be another Islamic terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan. Afghanistan is still demanding that the sanctuary in southwest Pakistan for the Afghan Taliban be shut down as well. This is still being negotiated (with the Afghan Taliban, several other Islamic terror organizations and the Afghan government). The Afghans don’t trust the Pakistanis but so far these peace talks have shown some progress.

While Pakistan talks peace with Afghanistan and the Taliban senior Pakistani generals still talk of war with India. This includes repeated accusations that India is sponsoring Islamic terrorism inside Pakistan and threats that Pakistan might use its nuclear weapons if India does not back off. The problem with this is that Pakistan presents no evidence while India has plenty of evidence that Pakistan is responsible for much of the Islamic terrorism inside India. Most UN members agree with India but the Pakistanis dismiss that as the result of another anti-Pakistan conspiracy. 

In Kashmir Pakistani troops fired across the border (LOC, or Line of Control) again, killing a civilian and wounding two others. An Indian soldier was also wounded. The Indians fired back and the Pakistanis stopped firing. There was a similar incident a week ago.

In India there have been growing evidence of the leftist Maoist rebels suffering more internal dissent and violence. Police are finding more graves containing Maoists who were not killed by the police but by fellow rebels. The main reason for all this internal disorder is that Maoist operations in the last few years have been thwarted by a major anti-Maoist security operation. A lot of what the analysts have found confirms this. Since its peak in 2010 leftist (mostly Maoist) terrorism related deaths have gone from 1,180 down to 314 in 2014. The decline was most precipitous (49 percent) in 2011, but continued over the next three years. That meant a 39 percent decline in deaths in 2012, an unexpected 15 percent increase in 2013 followed by a 25 percent decline in 2014. The decline is expected to continue and more Maoists are deserting, surrendering or, if they are leaders, warming to the calls for peace talks. Surrendering Maoists report that their leaders are now often under orders to shoot on sight and shoot to kill any of their subordinates who appear to be surrendering or deserting. This limits Maoist operations as many of the younger rebels can no longer be trusted to operate by themselves. This growing demoralization has led to data leaks that lead to more Maoist leaders being arrested or killed. Maoist bases, especially those used to store weapons and ammo or build bombs are being betrayed and seized by the police. This in turn has led to greater efforts to intimidate the police. Maoists are seeking vulnerable (off duty) police to kidnap or murder (or both). Families of policemen are also threatened. So far this has angered police more than intimidated them.

India has announced ambitious plans to build six nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) but admits development and building will probably take at least fifteen years. In 2009 India launched its first locally designed and built nuclear powered submarine, the 5,000 ton SSBN (ballistic missile carrying sub) INS Arihant, after eleven years of planning and construction. Arihant is currently undergoing sea trials and is supposed to enter service before the end of the year. The success of Arihant has apparently led to the SSN program, which is receiving development money.  One locally made nuclear sub doesn't change the balance of naval power much for India, which is already dominant in the region but it does show that India can build nuclear subs and six SSNs will make a difference.

July 13, 2015: On the Kashmir border Indian troops detected and killed what turned out to senior commander in Lashkar e Taiba (LeT). This is an Islamic terror group organized and long supported by the Pakistani military, mainly to organize and carry out terrorist attacks in India. Documents on the dead man indicated that he was on a mission to kill Indian soldiers and police stationed along the border. With the hot weather most of the snow in the high mountain passes has melted and the Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan have more opportunities to sneak into Kashmir.

July 11, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (near the border between South and North Waziristan) troops searching for Islamic terrorists found some and in the ensuing gun battle nine Islamic terrorists were killed as well as four soldiers. While this area had previously been cleared Islamic terrorists are trying to return now that the year-long counter-terrorist offensive is winding down. The civilians who fled are being allowed to go home. Local civilian leaders have agreed that the Islamic terror groups should not be allowed back in and the army is trying to enforce that. Thousands of Islamic terrorists survived the offensive in North Waziristan and fled to Afghanistan or other parts of Pakistan. Some have fled to other parts of North Waziristan and despite the risk of being found and attacked again, some Islamic terrorists persist in doing this. Areas outside North Waziristan proved to be more dangerous than North Waziristan used to be (at least until the offensive began). The military agrees with civilians in the tribal territories that the only way to keep the Islamic terrorists out is to act immediately when there are reports of terrorist activity. So far the Islamic terrorists are still challenging these new conditions, often because the only other choice is to disband. Islamic terror groups have suffered a lot of desertions in the last year but there are thousands of hard core (often foreign) Islamic terrorists who still believe surrender, walking away or defeat are not acceptable options.

In Afghanistan the U.S. announced that an airstrike yesterday near the Pakistani border had killed Hafez Saeed, the top ISIL commander for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Saeed, a Pakistani, has been at a gathering with 30 other Islamic terrorists in Nangarhar province. ISIL later insisted that Saeed was still alive but provided no conclusive proof. If Saeed is dead he would be the fourth ISIL leader to die in the last week. The local ISIL franchise is largely composed of former Afghan and Pakistani Taliban who feel more violence is needed to achieve victory. This involves fighting other Taliban so now ISIL has the Afghan and Pakistani security forces hunting for them as well as American UAVs and other Taliban.

July 10, 2015: India and Pakistan have joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). This is a regional security forum founded in Shanghai in 2001 by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and China. The main purpose of the SCO was originally fighting Islamic terrorism. Russia, however, hoped to build the SCO into a counterbalance against NATO. SCO members conduct joint military exercises, mostly for show. They also share intel on terrorists, which is often useful. Iran, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, and Turkey were all favorably disposed towards joining the SCO. These nations were allowed to send observers to meetings. China has put more emphasis on economic cooperation because greater Chinese economic power means that China is replacing Russia as the principal investor and trading partner throughout the region. Russia does not like to dwell on this, because it means China is expanding its economic and political power. On paper China is now the dominant military power in Eurasia, a fact that Russia likes to downplay. Many Russians fear that the aggression China is demonstrating towards India and everyone bordering the South China Sea will eventually be turned towards Russia. As the old saying goes; “hold your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

July 7, 2015: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan province) troops finally caught up with and killed the leader (Mehmood ur Rehman Rindof) of a Sunni Islamic terror group (Jaish ul Islam) responsible for many attacks on Shia Moslems in the area. There are several similar Islamic terror groups in Baluchistan that target Shia Moslems. With the clearing of Islamic terrorists from North Waziristan most of the terror attacks against civilians are coming from separatists and Islamic terrorists based in Baluchistan.

July 1, 2015:  In northwest Pakistan, across the border from Afghanistan’s Paktika Province, a battle broke out between Afghan and Pakistani border guards. Both sides blamed the other for starting it. One Afghan was killed and two Pakistanis wounded. Relationships between border security personnel are often tense for a number of reasons. The main ones are historical. For centuries the people in what is now Pakistan have felt a need to have some control over what went on in what is now eastern Afghanistan. That’s because the Pushtun tribes along the current border between Afghanistan and Pakistan have, for thousands of years, raided into Pakistan and northern India. The last major invasion was in 1919 although many Pakistanis consider the current Islamic terrorist situation in the border area another “invasion”. Naturally, the Afghans resent the continued interference in their affairs by Pakistan, especially the way Pakistani intelligence (ISI) uses Islamic terrorists to keep Afghanistan in chaos. Pakistan denies the charges, but it’s no secret that the ISI invented the Taliban in the early 1990s and have long sponsored many Islamic terrorist groups.

June 30, 2015: Burma has sent more troops to their 1,643 kilometer long Indian border. This is in support of India which has a decades old tribal rebellion on its side of the frontier and only one battalion (fewer than 800 troops) per hundred kilometers of border. Thus there is ample opportunity for tribal rebels to sneak across and set up camps in Burma, safe from Indian security forces. Burma admits it is responsible for detecting and expelling these illegal visitors but most of the border area is thinly populated forests and mountains and it is very difficult to get troops into the area and very expensive to support them as they go after any intruders.  So India sent a few more battalions to areas the rebels seem to prefer to cross at. This makes it more difficult for the rebels to move to their Burma sanctuaries but does not stop them. Because of the recent rebel ambush inside India, launched by rebels using Burmese bases, the Burmese army will use Indian intelligence on routes the rebels are using to cross the border and have Burmese troops watch and block these routes. Getting all the Burmese reinforcements in place will take until later in July.

June 26, 2015: The Burmese Army has agreed to meet with their Indian counterparts to create a plan for closer cooperation against Indian rebels operating on the Burmese side of the border.





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