India-Pakistan: Bad Debts Come Due

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May 28, 2019: In Pakistan decades of economic mismanagement and dependence on foreign aid and loans have led to the government being forced to accept harsh terms in return for another financial bailout by the IMF (International Monetary Fund). To get these “last chance loans”, Pakistan has promised to raise tax collections by 30 percent and, even worse, cut government spending by nearly as much. This will anger the Pakistani military and the many groups that currently benefit from the deficit spending Pakistan has managed to get away with for so long. Not complying means national bankruptcy, years of economic chaos and much worse conditions than the IMF is demanding now.

What caused all this was years of poor Pakistani fiscal policies that made it difficult for Pakistan to obtain large enough bailouts from the IMF. Other lenders (Gulf Arabs and China) were the only alternative. This time “emergency loans” from their last remaining wealthy allies (China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) were not enough. China had conditions attached to its loan and Pakistan ultimately found that it still needed billions from the IMF. That has been avoided because this time it only happens if Pakistan actually does something about the corruption and deficit spending that is causing the chronic cash shortage. The IMF also wants Pakistan to sell (privatize) the money-losing national steel company and the national airline. Both are politically important because they provide lots of jobs for government supporters and are a source of cash for corrupt deals. Another corrupt practice is tolerating the wealthiest people to avoid paying taxes. Only one percent of the population pays taxes and few of the local rich do so. Another major source of tax dodgers is military leaders who receive a lot of tainted (from corrupt deals) money. The military spending will decrease because the Americans have halted all military aid. The IMF also notes that some of the major loan deals with China have terms that were never made public and even the IMF is unable to find out what is going on there.

The main cause of these frequent appeals to the IMF is widely accepted; the Pakistani military gets too much of the government budget. The American decision to cut military aid to Pakistan was a big deal because since about 2005 that aid has accounted for nearly 20 percent of the Pakistani defense budget. The U.S. aid has declined since 2010 (when it was $2 billion), but was still significant because the current annual Pakistani defense budget is nearly $9 billion. So an extra billion or so from the Americans made a difference. While Pakistan can turn to China or Russia for all its weapons needs, it won’t have access to the best nor will it get any gifts. China and Russia expect to be paid for military goods. Meanwhile, the Pakistani army gets 47 percent of the defense budget, the air force 20 percent and the navy 11 percent. The American aid was free, not a loan. The Arab and Chinese are offering loans, not gifts and this has put much more pressure on Pakistan to change is corrupt and wasteful economic policies.

Pakistan talks about the “Indian Threat” and, in terms of numbers, there is an Indian threat because India spends nearly $60 billion a year on defense, the fifth largest defense budget on the planet (behind the United States, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia). Pakistan barely makes the top 20. Indian spending is 3.3 percent of GDP while Pakistan is 2.7 percent. In 2016 Pakistan boosted defense spending 15 percent but was unable to sustain that growth rate. For the last five years, Pakistan has, on average, increased its defense spending about 10 percent a year. Neighboring India spends more than five times as much. China’s defense spending ($215 billion) is the largest in the region and second largest in the world. Defense spending in South Asia has risen nearly 50 percent since 2001. The large portion of Pakistani government spending going to the military is under growing criticism inside Pakistan, mainly because Pakistan lags way behind India and China when it comes to spending on education, infrastructure and public health.

The Pakistani government 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 of these Islamic terror groups have declared war on Pakistan. The IMF is 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.

Pakistan And Taliban

Since late 2018 the Americans have been negotiating directly with the Afghan Taliban to work out a mutually agreeable peace deal. Pakistan plays an important if unacknowledged, role in these peace talks. For example, Pakistan is behind the Taliban refusal to negotiate with the Afghan government. The Taliban finally agreed that it would negotiate with the Afghan government, but only after the Americans agree to pull all their troops out of Afghanistan and actually do so. This Taliban attitude is, for most Afghans, another reason for not believing or supporting the Taliban. The Taliban insist on negotiating a deal with the United States first, to get all foreign troops (unless they work for Pakistan) out of the country. Many Afghans remember that this was similar to what happened after the Russians withdrew in 1989 and left behind a pro-Russian national government that had enough support to hold Kabul and some other parts of the country. The civil war that followed that is still going on.

During the early 1990s most of the Afghan rebels were still based in Pakistan where, since the early 1980s, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states financed refugee camps and religious schools that taught hatred of non-Moslems. This led to Pakistan creating the Taliban in 1994 by recruiting refugee Pushtun students from these religious schools (“Taliban” translates to “students”), arming them and providing logistical support and plenty of reinforcements from the Afghan refugee camps. The Taliban were, and still are, the Pakistani faction in Afghanistan. The Taliban are seen as repeating the same mistake they made in the mid-1990s by agreeing with other rebel factions that negotiation with the pro-Russian Afghan government was not possible and it was preferable to fight each other to determine who would dominate Afghanistan. This is what Pakistan wanted and, by the late 1990s, their Taliban faction was on their way to defeating all the other factions. That job wasn’t finished when September 11, 2001 came around and the Americans backed the remaining anti-Taliban coalition (the Northern Alliance of non-Pushtun tribes). The Taliban have never controlled all of Afghanistan and few Afghans believe they ever will. But as long as drug gangs finance the Taliban (who provide security for heroin production and smuggling) and Pakistan provides sanctuary in Pakistan as well as technical support, the Taliban will survive as a major nuisance in Afghanistan.

The Russian supported Afghan government lost Russian financial and military aid after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. This left that government much less able to defend itself. In response, several tribal and rebel factions battled for control of Afghanistan and the capital Kabul. The Taliban was better organized, more fanatic and, most importantly, receiving all manner of logistic, training and military advisor support from Pakistan. Meanwhile, the former “holy warriors” among the tribal factions no longer had the support of Pakistan based camps and Islamic (mainly Saudi) charities operating there. Some of those factions agreed to work for Pakistan and were either integrated with the Taliban or, like the Haqqani Network, remained independent and useful to Pakistan. The Taliban soon took Kabul but was never able to defeat all the other factions, especially the non-Pushtun ones.

Two decades later Afghans regard Pakistan as the foreign invader to worry about, not the American and NATO troops. The Taliban have even less credibility (as Afghan patriots) now than they did in the 1990s. The current Taliban as seen, by most Afghans, as a bunch of hired guns working for drug gangs as mercenaries. As long as the Taliban refuse to first negotiate with the current pro-West government, most Afghans will regard the Taliban as the main obstacle to peace.

The reality is that the current war in Afghanistan has been going on since 1979. That is four decades of fighting caused by outsiders intervening militarily in Afghan affairs. First, it was Russia backed Afghan communists ousting a pro-West monarchy and replacing it with a communist dictatorship. That triggered violence by many tribes hostile to foreign influence and that is a problem that continues. Many tribes, or at least tribal elders, are unsure if democracy is an improvement over the old monarchy. The tribes do agree that a religious dictatorship is unwelcome, especially after the Taliban attempt to make it work in the late 1990s.

Up until 1979 the two century old Afghan monarchy had always been dominated by Pushtuns and the kings were usually Pushtun because Pushtuns were not only the largest minority (40 percent of the population) but, across the border in Pakistan, there were twice as many Pushtuns. However in Pakistan, the Pushtuns were a small minority of the much larger Pakistani population and kept on a short leash by the non-tribal majority that has always run Pakistan.

It is true Afghans have long (for thousands of years) been hostile to outsiders and the outsiders feared most were the ones next door (especially many Indian and Iranian Empires.) This history doesn’t resonate with most Westerners but it is current events for most Afghans, who often consider other Afghans (from distant tribes or ethnic groups) as “outsiders.” Currently, the Westerners are seen as less of a threat because all they want is no sanctuary for Islamic terrorists and no drug production. The majority of Afghans can agree with both of those goals as well as the incoming Western economic and military aid.

The Afghan Taliban are suffering fragmentation. More Taliban factions are opposing Pakistani and/or Iranian control as well as cooperation with (and financial support from) the drug gangs. The one thing nearly all Taliban agree on is getting rid of foreign interference. The problem is deciding which foreigners are the biggest threat to Afghanistan. The majority of Afghans agree it is Pakistan and therein lies the main obstacle to Taliban domination of Afghanistan. Because of their past and current behavior, most Afghans see the Taliban as the problem, not the solution. Until recently Pakistan would not even admit it was continuing to directly interfere with what happens in Afghanistan. Now Pakistan sees their goal of having their Taliban once more the dominant power in Afghanistan close to reality. Many Pakistanis are not so sure this is the kind of reality Pakistan needs.

The United States has long maintained the possibility of working out a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban. The major problem with that is getting Pakistan to cooperate. The Afghan Taliban cannot make any deals without Pakistani cooperation. Then there is the larger problem of such a deal turning control of Afghanistan over to a coalition of Afghan drug gangs assisted by Pakistan, Iran and local Islamic conservatives (who ban education for women and generally unpopular lifestyle restrictions). Russia and Pakistan believe this would be the best possible “peace deal”. Most American and Afghans disagree. So does India and many Pakistanis unhappy with their military-dominated government.

Then there are the traditional (usual) “how to negotiate with infidels” rules used by Islamic terrorist groups and some governments dominated by Islamic conservatives. These rules stress the use of lies and deception because the Islamic scripture mentions it so it must be the only way to go. This approach has been very consistently used by Islamic terror groups, and the fact that the Afghan Taliban are actually a front for Pakistan makes no difference because Pakistan is increasingly dominated by their armed forces who have, since the 1980s, been using (if not all believing in) Islamic terror groups against their real or imagined enemies. The drug gangs, which also depend on Pakistan to stay in business and are largely run by Pushtuns, will go along with whatever Pakistan wants as long as drug trade is not trifled with.

Despite recent Pakistani pledges to cease any involvement with Afghan “internal conflicts,” Iranians, Indians and Afghans generally agree that Pakistan has no interest in abandoning its use of certain Islamic terror groups (like the Taliban) to put pressure on neighbors. This is considered a problem for everyone, especially the Afghans. Worse, few people in the region (especially Afghans and Iranians) expect the Taliban to agree to a ban on Taliban controlled Afghanistan again becoming a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists. Many Afghans are wondering why the Americans are even negotiating with the Taliban, who have long demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. Iranians are particularly wary of this as they see the Taliban as inherently anti-Iranian. Iran also has issues with the Afghan drug gangs, who continue to produce, with Pakistani cooperation, all that heroin, opium and hashish. Much of it gets out of Afghanistan via Iran and that has turned the Iran/Afghan border into a bloody battle zone.

May 27, 2019: In northwest Pakistan, across the border in eastern Afghanistan (Nangarhar province) an American UAV used a missile to kill four ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) men who were identified by Afghan troops as Pakistani. The Afghans often return the bodies of Pakistani Islamic terrorists killed in near the border because these Pakistanis are often from Pushtun tribes with families on both sides of the border. Returning the bodies is also a public reminder of how Pakistanis are still heavily involved in terrorist operations in Afghanistan. ISIL has long maintained a presence in Nangarhar because it is remote and close to the Pakistan border. It is no secret that many ISIL recruits come from Pakistan and that is one reason why ISIL recently announced the establishment of a separate ISIL “province” in Pakistan.

Elsewhere in northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan), Islamic terrorists attacked an army checkpoint killing one soldier and wounding four. An earlier incident in North Waziristan saw a group of PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement or Pashtun Protection Movement) members, including two Pushtun MPs (members of parliament), fired on by soldiers at a checkpoint. The PTM members say their vehicles were fired on as they passed an army checkpoint. The army says there was some kind of dispute that got violent. Five soldiers claim they were injured by the PTM members. The PTM survivors insist there was no violence until the soldiers opened fire killing three PTM members and wounding ten (including one of the MPs). Nine of the PTM members were arrested, including the two MPs. Normally the PTM is non-violent although recently some PTM demonstrations in Karachi have turned violent. Pushtuns are 15 percent of the Pakistan population and most live in the northwest. The Pushtun have long complained about poor treatment by the government. The PTM is mainly about the Pakistani Pushtuns uniting to oppose the mistreatment of Pushtuns in general. While the PTM calls for peaceful demonstrations the military decided this month that the PTM is a threat and thus considered a hostile opposition organization. The main reason for this was that the peaceful demonstrations of the PTM were attracting more non-Pushtuns who not only agreed with the PTM complaints against the military but pointed out that the military is hostile to any Pakistani who speaks up and denounces the many misdeeds of the Pakistani military.

May 25, 2019: In Bangladesh, the UN began issuing ID cards to Burmese Rohingya refugees in mid-2018 and so far have issued the IDs to about a third of the 740,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. These IDs make it easier for Rohingya to return to Burma because the ID is proof that they were pushed out of Burma by the army and vigilantes in the first place. But few Rohingya are going back, even with the ID card. Their homeland in northern Burma (Rakhine state) is still too dangerous for any Rohingya. The Burmese government is being threatened with sanctions but army dominated government is not impressed. The military knows that China is eager to be Burma’s main ally, to the exclusion of Western nations. India still works with Burma, to deal with tribal rebels who operate along their common border. Thailand is another neighbor not bothered by the Rohingya situation.

May 24, 2019: India has banned Bangladeshi Islamic terror group JMB from operating in India in any way. Indian counter-terror organizations will now actively seek out any JMB activity inside India and act against it. Groups like JMB seek to quietly establish sanctuaries in neighboring countries and plan for attacks in Bangladesh. To that end JMB is quite law-abiding and discreet in India. But such groups often become a local threat and banning JMB improves relations with Bangladesh.

May 23, 2019: In northwest India (Kashmir), police cornered a popular local Islamic terrorist leader, Zakir Musa, and killed him when he refused to surrender. The next day thousands attended his funeral. Zakir Musa was 25 years old and had been an Islamic terrorists since he was a teenager. Musa only had about a dozen followers but he was a local kid and Pakistani media played that up. But since a major Islamic terror attack in February the security forces in Kashmir have been on the offensive in a big way and have killed or captured nearly 200 of the local Islamic terrorists. That is major damage. In addition, the Indian threats to escalate with more air and artillery attacks into Pakistan have caused a slowdown in Pakistani efforts to sneak more Islamic terrorists into Kashmir.

Pakistan conducted another test of its Shaheen II IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile), has a range of 1,500 kilometers and can carry a nuclear warhead to any part of India. Shaheen II entered service in 2008 after nearly a decade of development. This is a 25 ton, two-stage solid fuel missile. It is deployed on about fifty wheeled TELs (transporter erector launchers.) Pakistan has developed a larger (2,500 kilometers range) Shaheen III but this one has not entered service yet.

May 19, 2019: Pakistan, responding to Chinese complaints that about lack of security, has agreed to add more troops to the security forces already assigned to guard over 300 Chinese projects in Pakistan and the 15,000 foreigners (mainly Chinese) who work on them. The existing force has over 15,000 personnel with 9,000 being soldiers and the rest local para-military forces. This will be in addition to the special naval force that protects navy facilities in Gwadar and the waters off Pakistan.

This force has blunted threats of violence against the Chinese but has not prevented four attacks on Chinese projects and personnel since late 2018. The Chinese are running out of patience. In mid-2017 Pakistan also agreed to build a walled and restricted residential area near the port of Gwadar to house up to half a million Chinese that will eventually be working in Pakistan. The Chinese construction work on the new Pakistani Gwadar port facilities are visible to anyone on the ground or flying by and in 2017 it was noticed that some features of the new port and airport facilities are clearly intended for military use. India has long claimed China (despite denials) was planning to use Gwadar as a base for Chinese warships and naval aircraft. Pakistan never had a problem with Chinese military using Gwadar as it helps keep local troublemakers out. Pakistan has assured China that there would be no terrorist violence against Chinese working on upgrading the port of Gwadar and land links north to China. Pakistan is willing to pay a high price to get CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) done because it means Pakistan has an ally against Iran and even Western powers that might have some violent disagreement with Pakistan. Best of all China is picking up most of the $60 billion cost. In early 2017 China and Pakistan finally signed the agreement that granted China a 40 year lease on new facilities China is building in the southwestern port of Gwadar. The lease grants China most (over 80 percent) of the revenue brought in by port and free trade zone operations. China usually imports its own workers from China to do most of the work on projects like this. By 2022 China expects to have about half a million Chinese in Pakistan, some of them with their families. The easiest way to provide protection is to have most of them live in a heavily guarded and restricted access area. Gwadar is a key part of CPEC and it has the misfortune of being in a province (Baluchistan) that does not want to be part of Pakistan. China and the Pakistanis try to ignore this by not reporting on non-Islamic terror attacks on CPEC construction projects. The government has long been accused of suppressing news of tribal separatists in Baluchistan attacking government targets and especially those related to CPEC. The separatists claim they regularly carry out attacks on CPEC construction projects, but most of their attacks are still directed at Pakistani security forces and government facilities.

May 18, 2019: Pakistan has, so far this month, arrested at least 30 Chinese men and accused them of enticing or kidnaping Pakistani women to China and sell them to Chinese men to be wives. There a growing shortage of Chinese women in China that has created a market for young foreign women. China's "one child" policy of the last few decades and the ability to determine the sex of the child before birth led to more (20 percent more) boys than girls being born in China. There's a growing shortage of potential brides, and desperate Chinese men are willing to buy a kidnapped girl from Pakistan (or anywhere else). This crime has become common in most nations neighboring China.

May 17, 2019: In northeast India (Nagaland), Indian and Burmese troops are cooperating to eliminate Naga rebel bases in the Sagaing Region on the Burmese side of the border. The Sagaing region has long been used as a refuge for Indian Naga rebels but this year Indian and Burmese forces have been coordinating efforts to shut down the border camps for good, or at least for a long time. In March Indian and Burmese swept both sides of the border for weeks but later discovered that, while this hurt the Naga rebels it did not destroy the rebel groups, who returned to the border area once the troops had ceased their activity. This time the Burmese troops are going to patrol the area for several months, or as long as it takes for India to certify that the Naga rebels have suffered serious and long-term damage. Indian troops will also be active on their side of the border to ensure that the Naga rebels, both the Indian and Burmese ones, have nowhere to go and that situation will last so long (several months) that many of rebels will desert and return to their villages. Other rebel groups will be cornered by Indian or Burmese troops and destroyed.

Most of the Naga people are Indian but some live in the Burmese far north Sagaing Region and 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. Many of the camps being sought in Sagaing belong to the NSCN-K faction of the NSCN. At the start of 2019, there were believed to be about 5,000 active rebels in NSCN with about ten percent of them Burmese Naga. This new operation seeks to reduce the size of NSCN by a significant amount. How much damage will be done won’t be known until the end of 2019. These operations are not just going after the NSCN but also smaller groups like the Ulfa-I, NDFB and Manipur rebels.

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. For this new operation, Burmese soldiers have orders to pursue and capture or kill any rebels they encounter. If the rebels head for India the Indian Army is alerted and moves troops into position to confront any rebels crossing the border to escape Burmese troops.

May 15, 2019: Worldwide ISIL has taken credit for several recent terror attacks, especially one in late April that killed nearly 300 people in Sri Lanka, and used that to explain why it is now establishing two more “provinces.” One will be in Pakistan and the other will be in India. Afghanistan (and much of Central Asia) has been Khorasan province for five years. This sort of thing is mostly about maintaining a prominent media presence. ISIL is largely an enterprise that exists because it can reach a wide audience with its message (basically “join or die”) that also allows wealthy Moslems to send cash instead. ISIL has had a hard time making any progress in India and has not done much better in Pakistan or Central Asia.

May 13, 2019: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), the Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for a bomb that went off outside a mosque, killing four policemen and wounding nine bystanders.

Bangladesh has halted issuing visas to most Pakistanis, especially those who are government employees, in particular diplomats. Bangladesh accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamic terrorism in Bangladesh and has a growing body of evidence to back this up. Pakistan makes matters worse by denying any involvement in Islamic terrorism. Pakistan has long refused to pay attention to the successful anti-terrorism measures implemented in Bangladesh. Pakistan does not like to be reminded of anything to do with Bangladesh, which used to be East Pakistan and part of a much larger Pakistan. But the Bangladeshis rebelled in the early 1970s and West Pakistan (all that is now left of the original Pakistan) was unable to put down the uprising. After that defeat, Pakistan adopted Islamic radicalism as a new policy and Islamic terrorism as a weapon. Bangladesh made peace with India (which supported the rebels) and discouraged Islamic radicalism. Despite the growing popularity (among Moslems) of Islamic radicalism in the last three decades, Bangladesh has been largely free of it.

May 11, 2019: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), at least three Baluchi separatists attacked a hotel in the Chinese controlled port city of Gwadar, leaving a policeman, four civilians and three attackers dead. The Pakistani government has been reluctant to release details of this attack.

May 10, 2019: Pakistan told Iran that joint work on a natural gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan had to be suspended because of U.S. sanctions.

May 7, 2019: In Pakistan (Lahore), the Pakistani Taliban took credit for a bomb going off near a major Sufi shrine. The blast killed ten and wounded 24. This shrine had additional security because of a 2010 attack that killed 40. Sufi have become a favorite target of Sunni Islamic terror groups in Pakistan (and worldwide). This is a relatively recent development. When Pakistan was created in 1947 the Sufi sect of Islam was dominant in Pakistan, but since the 1980s more militant forms of Islamic have proliferated with the support of the Pakistani military. This was fostered by missionaries and money from Saudi Arabia, who preached intolerance and violence against non-Moslems and Moslems who are not extreme enough. This extremist form of Islam has been a major factor in preventing India and Pakistan from making peace. According to Islamic radicals, Hindus are the worst kind of infidel (non-Moslem) because, unlike Christians and Jews, they have no common religious roots with Islam. Actually, Hindus do, as there was a lot of Hindu influence in Arabia when Islam was founded 1,400 years ago, but the founders of Islam choose not to openly recognize their Hindu roots. Thus the harder line on Hindus. In Pakistan, the growing number of Islamic terrorist attacks on non-Sunni Moslems (especially Shia and Sufi) is very unpopular with most Pakistanis, even those who are not Shia or Sufi. About ten percent of Pakistanis are Shia (mostly) or Sufi but because of the long history of Sufism in Pakistan, there are dozens of major Sufi holy places (usually tombs of prominent Sufis) there that attract many visitors from Pakistan and foreign countries.

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian falsely accused of blasphemy, has finally been able to leave Pakistan and get to Canada where her husband and children have already received asylum. Her husband was able to reach Canada in late January. Bibi has been given permission to leave but the Pakistan government kept stalling on actually letting her to actually leave. Bibi and her husband were long 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 were already in Canada and the parents made it clear they wanted to join them.

May 1, 2019: In eastern India (Maharashtra state), a Maoist roadside bomb went off and killed fifteen paramilitary police. This was a rare success for the Maoists who have been increasingly on the defensive. This attack was part of a Maoist effort to disrupt national elections. The effort failed, as have similar efforts in the past decade. Maoists used to be able to disrupt voting in areas where they were active but the years of intense efforts to shut down the communist rebels have been working.

At the UN China halted a decade of blocking efforts to declare notorious Pakistani Islamic terrorist Masood Azhar an international terrorist. Azar was responsible for the 2011 Mumbai (India) terrorist attack and a more recent February suicide bombing in Kashmir that left 40 Indian police dead. India has plenty of evidence that Pakistan continues to protect Islamic terror groups that only attack other nations (mainly India and Afghanistan). While Pakistan was grateful that China used their UN veto to block justified counter-terrorism measures for so long eventually China got tired of it. China was also trying to persuade Pakistan to back off on sponsoring Islamic terrorist groups that were willing to attack Pakistani enemies. Pakistan refused to go along with the Chinese requests so China is sending the message in stronger terms. This move wins China some goodwill from Afghanistan, India and many other nations who have suffered from this Pakistani use of Islamic terrorists. Within days of the UN declaring Azhar a terrorist, Pakistan froze his bank accounts and banned him from leaving the country. Azhar was not arrested nor were any moves made against JeM (Jaish e Mohammad), the terror groups Azhar leads. JeM has become the primary target of counter-terror operations in Indian Kashmir. So far this year 80 Islamic terrorists have been killed in Kashmir and a third of these belonged to JeM. Although JeM has been around since 2000 it only became a major Islamic terrorist threat in the last few years.

April 27, 2019: I n northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan), Islamic terrorists planted a bomb at an army checkpoint overnight before troops arrived to man the checkpoint during daylight hours. The explosion killed three troops and wounded another.

 

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