India is again threatening war with Pakistan over Islamic terrorist violence in Kashmir. The Pakistani trained Islamic terrorists in Kashmir have worked for two years to increase the number of attacks in Kashmir knowing that this would result in more counter-terrorism activity that would further cripple the Kashmir economy and anger many local Moslems. That makes it easier to recruit local Moslems for suicide bomber attacks. India knows that some of the Pakistani based Islamic terrorists in Kashmir have a background in suicide bombing and are now making a major effort to shut down these terror cells before the suicide bombings increase. But that is only part of the Pakistani efforts in Kashmir.
India reports that Pakistani border (and ceasefire) violations in the northwest (Kashmir) had doubled in 2018 (compared to 2017) and were the highest in the last ten years and are continuing to increase in 2019. The 2018 Pakistani violence on the LoC (Line of Control) that serves as the border left 38 Kashmiri civilians and 257 Islamic terrorists (infiltrators from Pakistan) dead as a result of 614 incidents. Most of the violence did not involve casualties. On the LoC, there were 2,140 ceasefire violations on the LoC in 2018, up from 971 in 2017 and 449 in 2016. The 2018 violations led to 30 Indian civilians killed along with 20 military personnel. Pakistan has urged young Kashmiri Moslems to carry out violent (often just throwing rocks) attacks against Indian security forces in Kashmir. There were 664 of these attacks in 2018 compared to 342 in 2017 and 222 in 2014. So far this year, and for most of the last two years, the violence in Kashmir has caused the most terrorism-related deaths in India.
So far in 2019, there have been three times as many deaths in Kashmir (92) than in eastern India because of Maoist activity (31 dead). While there are more armed Maoists involved the Maoists, unlike the Islamic terrorists in Kashmir, do not have a foreign sponsor. During the first two months of 2019, India suffered more terrorism-related deaths (132) than Pakistan (53), continuing a trend arising from Pakistan increasing its Islamic terrorist support in Kashmir since 2017. Yet, when you adjust for population (India has six times more people) Pakistan still suffers more from terrorist violence.
Pakistan needs more violence in Kashmir and along the border to justify its growing control over the Pakistani government and media. Most Pakistanis would prefer their military to be subordinate to an elected government, as has always been the case for India (which deliberately instituted measures to ensure that after the British left in 1947). The Pakistanis realize this and realize that if they had to play by the same political rules as their Indian counterparts a lot of Pakistani generals (current and retired) would be prosecuted for a long list of crimes and lose many of the economic perks they now enjoy.
Since 2011 the Pakistani military has fewer secrets and less popular support. That’s because of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout and left with the bin Laden corpse and massive amounts of documents, many of them detailing how the Pakistani military had lied to the world about secret support for al Qaeda and many other Islamic terror groups. After 2011 the military made a few changes like going to war with Islamic terror groups that carried out unauthorized (by the military) attacks inside Pakistan. There is still Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan but most of it is done without permission from the military. What Islamic terrorism the military still used inside Pakistan had a specific purpose. Case in point is the growing use of blasphemy charges by Islamic religious parties against those who threaten military power. Most of these parties are either allies of the military or literally on the army payroll. This program includes the new Islamic political parties formed by Islamic terror groups that have long worked for the military to carry out attacks inside India. The Pakistani military wants to protect these Islamic terror groups and turning them into political parties is the latest ploy. The covert violence against foreign (Afghan and Indian targets) is against Pakistani and international law and the Pakistani military continues to claim that it is not involved.
The Pakistani government, prompted by the military, tries to justify the high defense spending by pointing out that since 2011 Pakistan has suffered $57 billion in economic losses because of Islamic terrorism. That is tragic but the neighbors (and the United States) point out that those losses are largely because Pakistan has supported Islamic terrorists since the 1970s and continues to do so even though many Islamic terror groups have declared war on Pakistan. Those economic losses may be exaggerated but they are still the result of the military supporting Islamic terrorists in the first place. In effect those losses are self-inflicted and the Pakistani generals do not want that sort of thinking becoming acceptable in Pakistan. That’s another reason for the increasingly oppressive and effective military efforts to terrorize and control local media. Foreign lenders, like the IMF (International Monetary Fund) are well aware of all this and Pakistani Finance Ministry officials cannot expect much help (unless you count the usual threats) from the military in persuading the IMF to look the other way and bail out the profligate Pakistani military once more. The Pakistani military is particularly unhelpful when it is pointed out that substantial Pakistani economic opportunities have been banned by the military for no good reason. Case in point is allowing free trade with India and Indian access, via Pakistan, to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The access fees would generate huge income for Pakistan but the Pakistani generals will not allow it because the main justification for the huge Pakistani military budget is the imaginary Indian threat.
In Pakistan, the military staged a silent coup since 2017 and took control of the top elected leaders, the mass media and highest courts. The Pakistani military plans to keep this power by doing what they have done for decades; create foreign threats where none exist and use that to justify the continued power, prosperity and immunity from prosecution of Pakistani military leaders. To make this work Pakistani generals have to ensure that several volatile situations do not blow up. One of the more obvious examples of this is Afghanistan, which the Pakistani military sees as a potential problem that is best handled by establishing a degree of Pakistani control over who does what in Afghanistan. Thus Pakistan created the Taliban in the early 1990s to end the civil war in Afghanistan and that had unfortunate side effects. For Pakistan, Afghanistan seems to be nothing but unfortunate side effects.
Pakistan finds itself caught in a system of contradictory obligations. Pakistan has long depended on large cash “donations” or loans from wealthy Gulf Arab oil states to keep the Pakistani economy from collapsing. The Arabs always expected something in return and one of those things was diplomatic and, less frequently, military support. The Arabs, at least Saudi Arabia (the main contributor of cash) also initially (in the 1980s) expected Pakistan to welcome Saudi religious charities that built new mosques and religious schools. The Saudis also sent clerics and teachers for the religious schools. This came in handy when Pakistan agreed to host millions of Afghan refugees during the 1980s, when the Russians were seeking to conquer Afghanistan. The Saudis paid for taking care of the refugees and arming the men among those refugees who regularly went back into Afghanistan to attack the Russians for a while, then retreat to the Pakistan refugee camps. The Russians threatened Pakistan over this but Pakistan had the Americans blocking these Russian threats while the Saudis kept the refugee/guerilla war operations going.
One of the aftereffects of all that was the Taliban and a growing minority of Pakistanis who backed Islamic radicalism and the imposition of religious law, or even a religious government, on Pakistan. This created a civil war that is still underway. The Pakistani military thought they could control and manipulate the Islamic zealots. That proved more difficult than anticipated and while a four year military campaign (starting in 2014) against the local Islamic terrorists (the extremists among the Islamic conservatives the Saudis created) reduced the number of Pakistani Islamic terrorists seeking to replace the current government (a democracy dominated by the military) with a religious dictatorship, those zealots have become a permanent part of Pakistani society. This has caused problems with neighbors like Iran (Pakistani zealots kill Pakistani Shia), China (Pakistani zealots attack Chinese investments and the Chinese running them) and India (Pakistani zealots seek to terrorize India and seize control of Kashmir and eventually all of India). These neighbors have become increasingly forceful in their demands that the Pakistani government does something about this. Pakistan placates the Iranians by refusing to provide military assistance to the Arabs in Yemen, or against any Iranian military operation directed at the Gulf Arabs. Now Pakistan has to deal with increasingly angry Arabs who threatened to halt the cash infusions that the Pakistani economy increasingly depends on. The Chinese demand quick and effective action against Pakistan supported Islamic terrorists who threaten Chinese investments. This was one of the reasons for the 2014 campaign against many of the Islamic terror groups operating from Pakistani bases. Pakistan had hoped the Chinese would replace the Arabs as a source of cash support but the Chinese don’t operate that way. China makes investments and does not provide cash like the Arabs and, until recently, the Americans did. The United States has halted all cash support for Pakistan because the Pakistanis would not shut down Islamic terror groups that attacked American interests. Now the Pakistanis know that if the Chinese feel they are being played like the Americans were, the Chinese will not be patient or forgiving. The Americans are no longer as accommodating as they used to be and the Iranians never were. India is a nuclear power with a larger army and economy than Pakistan. India is also losing patience and threatening war. Pakistan has to worry about too many past mistakes catching up with them at once. Most Afghans would like to see Pakistan pay for its many misdeeds and judgment day is getting closer.
The Afghan Taliban insist Pakistan plays no role in the current peace negotiations yet the Pakistani media, and military, make it clear that Pakistan is a key player in all this and that Pakistani demands must be respected. While the Pakistani military continues to crack down on Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan they have increased their efforts to export such violence to India and Afghanistan. This is very evident to Indians and Afghans living close to the Pakistani border. Actually it is a bloody reality to Iranians living near the Pakistani border. Iran also has issues with Taliban violence against Iranians because they are Shia and Pakistanis and Afghans who are Shia.
The neighbors also have issues with the Afghan drug gangs, who continue to produce, with Pakistani cooperation, the majority of the world’s supply of heroin (in addition to the cheaper opium and hashish for local markets). This is unpopular with the civilian populations of all nations adjacent to landlocked Afghanistan. That’s because the exported heroin passes through all of these nations and creates millions of local addicts in the process. Then there is the violence on the borders as the Afghan drug smugglers are armed and if bribes don’t work bullets come next. Bribes work best on the Pakistani border while the Iranian border has been a war zone for years.
Phony Peace In Pushtunstan
In northwest Pakistan, the Pakistani military declared victory over Islamic terrorism in North Waziristan at the end of 2018. That turned out to be optimistic. While access to North Waziristan is still restricted, and the incidence of violence there is much lower than in the past, it is still a dangerous place to be. The military has now allowed journalists in, accompanied by military escorts. This is not just for the safety of the journalists but to make sure they get the story right. That has not worked out as the military had hoped. The civilians encountered have a long list of complaints which, despite the presence of armed (and often scowling) military escorts, tell the journalists what the Pakistani military does not want to hear. While this news can be kept out of the Pakistani print media that is not the case with electronic media. Among the embarrassing North Waziristan news to appear so far this year are details of all the locals who are still stuck in refugee camps, the seemingly random and arbitrary arrests by the military and, worst of all, the mistreatment civilians suffer regularly from the troops and police. These stories often include pictures and videos.
In 2014 Pakistan began a military campaign in North Waziristan that killed or chased away most of the Islamic terrorists there and forced most of the civilians out for over a year. This campaign was supposed to be over by 2016 but it continues, with much of the fighting moved to Khyber province. The elimination of North Waziristan as an Islamic terrorist sanctuary denied groups like al Qaeda any hope of finding a refuge in Pakistan. As those North Waziristan refugees returned they found that much had changed. As has happened elsewhere in the tribal territories, when the Islamic terrorists are chased out, things changed, usually for the better. This is a pattern that goes way back. Pakistan's problems along the Afghan border are mostly about the difficulty integrating its Pushtun and Baluchi tribes into the nation of Pakistan. In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) there are the Baluchi, and in the northwest, there are the Pushtun. Both groups are very territorial and hostile to outsiders. But people from Punjab (48 percent of the population) and Sindh (29 percent) are better educated and possess technical skills lacking in the Pushtun tribal territories (16 percent, FATA and Khyber) and Baluchistan (seven percent), and must be brought in to do work requiring education and experience. While Sindh province has economic development levels similar to India, the tribal territories are more similar to the less developed nations in Africa. What the tribes lack in economic development they make up for in terms of aggressiveness and hostility towards the more numerous and wealthier lowlanders.
For thousands of years, these mountain tribes raided and plundered their lowland neighbors. But the last time that happened was a century ago when Pushtuns from Afghanistan joined tribal brethren on the other (British India) side of the border and headed for the lowlands. The tribesmen didn't make it far and spent three months trying. Folks along the border still talk about that one. When Pakistan was created in 1947, the tribes were still not pacified and were a sixth of the population. Ever since then a growing number of Pushtun and Baluchi moved into the lowlands (especially the cities, like Karachi) while many lowlanders moved into the tribal areas, bringing needed skills and a veneer of government and modern civilization. But the tribal leaders and their ancient form of government persisted, as did the custom of most adult males being armed, and ready to fight (or turn into a bandit). This, as much as the corrupt and self-serving Pakistani military has defined and defiled the history of Pakistan. But one major aftereffect of the North Waziristan campaign was that the government assured everyone that henceforth the security forces would have a lot more presence in this area and tribal power would be forever limited. Many Pushtun don’t like this, but a majority did or didn’t care.
As bad as the Taliban and Pushtun political pressure is the threat of all Pushtuns in the region uniting is worse. This is complicated by the fact that Pakistan considers Afghanistan a client state and many Pakistanis support that attitude because of the Pushtun threat. That threat is getting worse inside Pakistan. 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, especially since for thousands of years invasions of northern India (which, historically, lowland Pakistan was a part of) came out of Afghanistan where many Pushtun tribesmen would join the invaders. Pakistan and India are well aware of this, and still, consider the Pushtuns a bunch of bloodthirsty savages from the mountains. Afghanistan has only been around for a few centuries and Pakistan was carved out of British India in 1947. Before that, it was a collection of feudal states and tribal territories. When you get right down to it, Pakistan's big problem is that it contains two-thirds of the Pushtun people (who are 15 percent of Pakistan's population) while Afghanistan contains the other third (who are 40 percent of Afghanistan's population.) "Pushtunstan" is a nation of 30-40 million Pushtuns caught between Pakistan (still over 170 million people without the Pushtuns) and northern Afghanistan (with about 20 million non-Pushtuns) Without Pushtuns, Afghanistan would become yet another Central Asian country with a small population (neighboring Tajikistan has 7.7 million and Uzbekistan has 30 million).
Pushtunstan is never going to happen because the Pushtuns have long been divided by tribal politics and cultural differences. When the Pushtun aren't fighting outsiders, they fight each other. The violent and fractious Pushtuns are a core problem in the region and have been for centuries. There is no easy solution to this and now more Pushtuns are openly calling for the establishment of a Pushtunstan and are making common cause with the Baluchis to the south (in Baluchistan) who have long fought to establish an independent Baluchistan. Both tribal separatist groups want to be rid of the Pakistani military and the Islamic terrorist organizations the military supports.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Pushtuns are uniting to oppose the mistreatment of Pushtuns in general. For example, since early 2018 leaders of the PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement or Pashtun Protection Movement) have gone public with complaints that the security forces (controlled by the military) are kidnapping PTM leaders. So far the kidnappings have not escalated to murder but the PTM leaders taken were interrogated, threatened, beaten and released. PTM fears their leaders will start to disappear and at that point, things could get violent. The Pakistani military is aware of that as well and is reluctant to play rough with Pushtuns who have a reputation for pushing back even harder. PTM is a growing Pushtun nationalist movement in Pakistan that seeks peaceful resolution of issues. A year later the PTM reports that the army and police violence is worse.
A major problem in South Asia is crippling corruption. The more prosperous Western nations have less corruption and dominate the high end (less corrupt) surveys of such things. India ranks 78th out of 180 countries in 2018 (compared to 81 in 2017) while Pakistan ranked 117th (same as 2017). Progress, or lack thereof, can be seen in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index where countries are measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The most corrupt nations (usually North Korea/14, Yemen/14, Syria/13, South Sudan/13 and Somalia/10) have a rating of under 15 while of the least corrupt (New Zealand and Denmark) are over 85.
The current Indian score is 41 (up from 40 in 2017) compared to 33 (32) for Pakistan, 26 (28) for Bangladesh, 16 (15) for Afghanistan, 28 (29) for Russia, 28 (30) for Iran, 49 (49) for Saudi Arabia, 70 (71) for the UAE (United Arab Emirates), 35 (32) for Egypt, 62 (64) for Israel, 10 (9) for Somalia, 13 (12) for South Sudan, 16 (16) for Sudan, 61 (61) for Botswana, 72 (75) for the United States, 72 (73) for Japan, 38 (37) for Indonesia, 57 (54) for South Korea, 18 (18) for Iraq, 41 (40) for Turkey, 14 (16) for Yemen, 39 (41) for China, 62 (63) for Qatar, 28 (28) for Lebanon, 35 (33) for Algeria, 32 (31) for Mali, 43 (40) for Morocco, 43 (42) for Tunisia, 19 (20) for Chad, 34 (33) for Niger, 19 (19) for Angola, 26 (26) for Uganda, 56 (55) for Rwanda, 17 (22) for Burundi, 36 (36) for Tanzania and 35 (37) for Zambia, 34 (35) for Ethiopia, 27 (28) for Kenya, 24 (20) for Eritrea, 25 (25) for Cameroon, 40 (39) for Benin, 41 (40) for Ghana, 43 (43) for South Africa and 45 (45) for Senegal.
February 28, 2019: Pakistan announced it would, as a peace gesture, return the recently captured Indian pilot. It will take some time before the details emerge of what actually happened in this brief air war over the Kashmir border. The last time there was air combat between Pakistani and Indian warplanes was in 1971. Back then earlier model Indian MiG-21s were used, armed with cannon and heat-seeking missiles. These were effective against Pakistanis using U.S. designed F-86s. India has defeated Pakistan in every major military clash since 1947. That said there has not been a major military confrontation between the two countries since 1999 (the Pakistanis started it and lost). The only successful weapons Pakistan has are Islamic terrorism and media manipulation. Pakistani nukes are supposed to prevent India from escalating in response to Pakistani attacks but that is not a guarantee that escalation will never happen and people in both nations know it. The Pakistani military is playing a dangerous game but does so because they feel they must or risk retribution from Pakistanis who have had enough of dangerous and expensive military corruption and violence against Pakistanis.
February 27, 2019: India and Pakistan both claimed to have shot down a hostile aircraft in Kashmir. India claimed that twelve Pakistani warplanes, including four F-16s were detected approaching Indian Kashmir earlier today, apparently to attack Indian facilities with smart bombs. Pakistan claimed that some of these airstrikes hit Indian bases and India confirmed that some bombs landed near Indian bases but caused no damage. India sent up Su-30s and MiG-21s to oppose this and the Pakistanis turned away, except for one F-16 that entered Indian air space and was shot down by a missile fired by a MiG-21. Pakistan denied that the Indian airstrike had done any damage and that they had lost an F-16. Pakistan denied any F-16s were involved because according to terms agreed to when Pakistan received the F-16s these aircraft were not to be used for offensive operations against a foreign country. India said the F-16 crashed on the Pakistani side of the border but Indian recovered pieces of an American AMRAAM radar guided air-to-air missile, which is used on Pakistani F-16s. India also showed pictures of wreckage described as identifiable parts of an F-16 engine. Both nations use air-to-air missiles for air combat and all aircraft shot down in these incidents were probably brought down by missiles. The Mig-21Bis fighters in service with India carry the R-27 missile, which is similar to the American Sparrow radar-guided missile. Indian ground controllers guide the Mig-21bis into the range of enemy aircraft and one or both of the R-27s each Mig-21 carries are fired. This missile can take down a late model F-16. Pakistan initially claimed to have shot down two Indian MiG-21s but later changed that to one aircraft. Both of these accounts are suspect. First, it is unlikely that India would use aging and poorly equipped MiG-21s for these bombing missions. The MiG-21s still used by India are not flown much because of reliability issues and MiG-21 pilots don’t get much air time. The MiG-21 can still operate effective for air defense. In contrast, Pakistani F-16s have been used mainly for bombing. Pakistan has nearly fifty F-16C aircraft, most of them older models updated since 2006. The pilots got a lot of practice in the tribal territories during the 2014-16 campaign to shut down Pakistani Taliban activities along the border. The F-16s comprise only about ten percent of Pakistani jet fighter force, Most of the Pakistani jets are older Chinese MiG-21s (F-7s) and French Mirages. There are about a hundred JF-17 fighters which are similar to early model F-16s but Pakistan is the only user. The Chinese air force refused to buy any of these. The 600 jet fighters of the Indian air force are generally more modern than the Pakistani aircraft and about half of them are late model Su-30s and MiG-29s.
February 26, 2019: India announced it had conducted an airstrike against Islamic terrorist camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the Pakistani tribal territories and its aircraft had returned safely. India has many aircraft, like its 90 Jaguars, that specialize in ground attack. The MiG-21 was never very good at ground attack and can only carry a half ton of bombs. India also claimed to have destroyed five Pakistani border posts on the Kashmir border, using artillery.
February 25, 2019: India is having a lot of visible success in reducing leftist rebel (Maoist) violence in the east. The amnesty program for senior Maoist leaders has brought in some senior people this month and those who recently surrendered report that there are many more mid-level and senior Maoist leaders who are ready to seek amnesty, in large part because the Maoist cause has been suffering reverses for most of the last decade and prospects for reversing that seem bleak. For decades the Maoist violence caused far more casualties than the Islamic terrorist violence in Kashmir. For the last few years that is no longer the case.
February 22, 2019: The Afghan government has sent the UN a letter complaining about nearly a decade of Pakistani border violence. The Afghan letter details incidents since 2012 to the present in which Pakistani troops fired 28,849 rockets, mortar or artillery shells into eastern Afghanistan from just across the border in northwest Pakistan. Much of this firepower is directed at Kunar province and has been going on since 2010 in an effort to hit real or suspected Pakistani Taliban bases in Afghanistan. These incidents increased to the point where the Afghans began keeping track of them in 2012. Since 2012 this violence has killed 82 people and wounded 187 that the Afghan government knows about. The shelling occurs against rural areas that are often unpopulated so it is unclear if the Pakistanis have hit many Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani government propaganda insists that these Taliban Islamic terrorists are based in eastern Afghanistan and regularly cross into Pakistan to carry out attacks. The letter details how the situation is getting worse and that since January 2018 there have been 161 of these incidents that involved at least 6,025 Pakistani projectiles landing in Afghanistan. The letter points out that several elected Pakistani leaders have pledged to halt these border violations but those pledges are ignored by the Pakistani military.
A Pakistani military court has convicted Asad Durrani, a former (1990-92) head of ISI (military intelligence) for violating the Pakistani military code of conduct by writing a book detailing illegal activity the Pakistani military has been involved in. Durrani had his military pension taken away and is not allowed to leave the country. Back in September 2018, the Pakistani military sought to suppress Pakistani media coverage of the recently published book written by Durrani and A S Dulat, his Indian counterpart, a former head of RAW (the Indian equivalent of ISI). These two intel generals and military intelligence experts compared perspectives and it did not look good for the Pakistani military. As a result, Durrani was barred, since September, from leaving the country for any reason. Durrani is but the latest (and among the most senior) Pakistani insiders to go public with details of how the Pakistani military operates. It was also revealed that two other Pakistani generals are facing similar charges. The military wants to minimize the damage these “traitors” inflict on the reputation and credibility of the military. A growing number of Pakistanis believe it is too late for that. This comes amidst an increasingly ambitious
February 18, 2019: The Saudi crown prince is in Pakistan to sign trade deals including Saudi investments in Pakistan worth $20 billion. The crown prince also announced new measures to ensure better treatment of the 2.5 million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia. To that end, the crown prince ordered that 70 percent of the 3,000 Pakistanis held in Saudi prisons (on various criminal charges including many offenses that would not get you prosecuted in Pakistan) freed. Most of these freed inmates will be deported back to Pakistan. The remittances of these Pakistani expatriates (most of them used as unskilled labor) are a major economic asset to Pakistan. With this visit by the Saudi leader, Pakistan signaled that it is firmly on the side of Saudi Arabia in the war between the Saudis and Iran. China, a major investor and economic presence in Pakistan made it clear that it is against Islamic terrorism and not taking sides in the Sunni/Shia feud Iran is having with most other Middle Eastern nations.
February 17, 2019: The American government is encouraging its citizens to stay away from Pakistan because of the continued Islamic terrorist threat.
In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), a Baluchi separatist attack on an army convoy killed nine soldiers and wounded 11.
February 16, 2019: In the northwest (Nagaland), hundreds of additional troops arrived at portions of the Burmese border where Indian and Burmese Naga rebels have been operating. India fears the Naga rebels based in Burma will cross into India if only to escape Burmese troops. Most of the Naga people are Indian but some live in northern Burma’s Sagaing Region and some belong to the NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagaland) which wants to form an independent Nagaland including Indian and Burmese territory and Naga people from both countries. The Burmese military recently shut down in NSCN bases in the Sagaing Region. These bases belonged to the NSCN-K faction of the NSCN. There are believed to be about 5,000 active rebels in NSCN with about ten percent of them Burmese Naga. The Naga are actually about two million people from a collection of tribes that share many ethnic (Burma-Tibetan) characteristics and traditions. About ten percent of the Naga live in Burma but most of the rebel violence occurs in Indian Nagaland. For years the Naga rebels have used bases in Burma to train and rest before returning to fight in India. After much diplomatic pressure, the Burmese army finally went after the Naga rebel camps and have now shut most of them down. The Naga rebels do not fight the Burmese soldiers but always retreat. This time the Burmese military is telling the NSCN that they must leave because Burmese troops will keep coming after them until they do. By February 18th about 500 additional Indian soldiers were patrolling the border areas where Naga rebels often cross.
February 15, 2019: The Saudi Crown prince postponed his visit to Pakistan for a day, apparently in reaching to the Islamic terrorist bombing in Indian Kashmir the day before. The Crown Prince arrived on the 16th and met with the Pakistani prime minister the next day.
February 14, 2019: In northwest India (Kashmir), a Pakistani backed Islamic terror group used a suicide car bomber to attack a military convoy and destroyed a bus carrying Indian troops. The attack killed 43 and wounded many more. The suicide bomber was a local Moslem.
February 13, 2019: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), across the border in Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan province, 27 IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) troops were killed and 13 wounded when a suicide car bomber destroyed an IRGC bus. The bomber was identified as a Pakistani Baluchi. Although Iran initially blamed Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan and everyone but the Iranian Sunni Baluchi separatists who operate from bases in Pakistan and frequently cross the border to carry out attacks against the IRGC forces who guard the border. When the identity of the bomber was discovered (within a few days) the blame game focused on Pakistan. Often the Iranian border guards intercept the separatists at the border and kill or capture them. This rarely happens on the Pakistani side despite years of Iranian demands that Pakistan make more of an effort to control the Pakistani side of the border. This Baluchi separatist violence has been going on for decades on both sides of the border and never needed any outside assistance to keep going. Pakistan keeps getting blamed for the continued presence of Iranian Sunni separatists in Pakistani Baluchistan. Pakistan tries but the Baluchis live on both sides of the border and Iranian and Pakistani Baluchis want to create an independent Baluchistan that includes a chunk of southeast Iran where most of the Iranian Baluchis live. One of the usual suspects, Iranian separatist group Jaish al Adl took credit for the attack. In late 2018 Iran threatened to send troops across the Pakistani border to find and destroy Iranian Jaish al Adl camps in Pakistan if the Pakistani security forces did not take action and neither did the IRGC.
February 12, 2019: The Pakistani military ordered an article from the international edition of the New York Times to be edited before it could be published in Pakistan. The article had criticized the Pakistani military for its use of kidnapping and murder to intimidate opponents, including journalists. The edited New Your Times article simply had a blank space where the “offensive” material was. This made it easier for Pakistanis to search for the article on the Internet and read the text the Pakistani generals were offended by. This censorship incident is but one of many against print and electronic media. Pakistan appears to have come out ahead in its long battle with Internet social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. These were the last “media” in Pakistan where reports of military violence (including kidnapping and murder) of critics could be reported. Now Twitter and Facebook have agreed to accept government control over who can post what with regard to the Pakistani military. The
Pakistanis did this by weaponizing blasphemy laws to deliberately take on critics outside Pakistan reporting criminal activity in Pakistan. The military, which now basically controls the government (without a coup), had the government make thousands of complaints to social media outlets demanding that hateful messages be deleted. As bad as that is most Pakistanis recognize that the blasphemy laws are no longer about religion but have been turned into a legal method of using mob violence and murder to silence or kill anyone who is seen as opposed to the Pakistani military or local Islamic terror groups. Any politicians or senior officials who back blasphemy law reform are fair game for death threats and even assassination. Efforts to repeal these laws, or at least limit their misuse, are violently resisted by Islamic political parties and the military. It was the military that created these laws back when it decided to turn Islamic terrorism into a secret weapon for use against its enemies. The military still uses false blasphemy charges as an excuse to silence (often fatally) media and political opponents. This sort of thing has gotten worse as the Pakistani military is put under more pressure to cease supporting Islamic terrorism.
February 11, 2019: China has announced a foreign aid project that will benefit both Afghanistan and Pakistan. China will pay for the construction of new border crossing facilities at the two main crossings; Torkham in eastern Afghanistan (via the Pakistani the Khyber Pass) and Chaman in the south (Baluchistan.) The new facilities would contain modern rest areas for people waiting to cross (especially drivers of trucks) and these amenities would include refrigerated warehouses for perishable cargoes (like fruit and vegetables) delayed at the crossings.
February 9, 2019: Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian falsely accused of blasphemy has not, as some media reported, been secretly allowed to leave Pakistan with her husband for Canada in late January. Bibi has been given permission to leave but the Pakistan government has not yet allowed her to actually do that. Bibi and her husband are being held in an undisclosed location (not a jail) in Karachi. Over the last decade, several Pakistani courts found her not-guilty but Islamic radicals saw that as secular courts meddling in a religious matter and continued to call for her death. Moslems in Western nations threatened violence if Asia Bibi was granted asylum. Until early 2019 the Pakistani government refused to let Asia Bibi leave the country despite rumors that they had finally relented and Asia Bibi and her husband quietly left Pakistan in late January and arrived in Canada. The U.S. was also in the process of passing a special law granting Asia Bibi asylum. Two of the Bibi children are already in Canada and the parents do want to go there.
February 4, 2019: During the first week of 2019 Pakistan put its’ first locally made A-100E GPS guided 300mm rockets into service. These are fired from a truck carrying ten launch tubes. This rocket is similar to American 227mm GMLRS GPS guided rocket system, which was the inspiration for the Chinese A-100 and the Russian BM-30 before it. Pakistan first ordered 36 A-100 launchers from China in response to India ordering the original Russian BM-30 (which A-100 was a Chinese copy of). These were all unguided rockets. Pakistan later received a license to produce the guided 300mm rocket locally and now those are in service. Meanwhile, this category of guided rockets has continued to expand.