September 24, 2020: It is day 122 of the current confrontation with China in the Indian northwest (Ladakh) along the shore of Pangong Lake. India and China recently agreed to halt their operations on the border. Both sides declared victory but China was the actual winner because now a thousand square kilometers of additional Indian territory along Panglong Lake is under Chinese control. In China the state-controlled mass media treats the Ladakh situation as a minor matter in which Chinese security forces decisively dealt with another case of Indian border misbehavior. The unrestricted Indian media considers Ladakh a major event. This disparity in news coverage is a side effect of the Chinese SSSN (Shove, Stop, Stands Fast) tactics. This Chinese approach has once again prevailed, as it has so many times in the recent past.
China expressed no interest in retreating but was willing to negotiate. With the cold weather arriving India was in no position to refuse. China believes they will prevail by repeating their SSSN in other disputed areas and push Indian forces out of all the contested territory along their common border. SSSN is slow and it would take decades to grab all the Indian territory claimed by China. As long as China maintains a stronger military than India and can keep more troops near the disputed border areas, India will not feel confident to defend forcefully, risking a large-scale battle on the border.
While both nations have about the same population, the Chinese economy is nearly five times the size of India’s. This economic disparity is of great concern to India. For decades India practiced a form of democratic socialism that allowed free enterprise but under a heavy layer of regulations. There was also competition from state owned firms that were badly managed but subsidized by the government. These policies crippled Indian economic growth for decades. This was made obvious when neighboring China, which had practiced a stricter form of socialism in which no private enterprise was allowed, changed their economic policies in the 1980s. The Chinese legalized free enterprise, and with fewer restrictions than in India. The Chinese model put great emphasis on economic growth and within a decade was delivering 10 percent or more GDP growth each year. Indian sought to emulate China in the 1990s. That paid off, with GDP nearly doubling in the last decade from $1.7 trillion to the current $2.9 trillion. This made India the fifth largest economy, recently surpassing Britain and France. The rest of the top five are the U.S., China, Germany and Japan. Chinese GDP growth is slowing although in the last decade it more than doubled from $6.1 trillion to $14 trillion. But for once the annual Indian GDP growth has been faster than in China, where GDP growth rates have been declining over the last five years. Three decades of spectacular economic growth resulted in the Chinese GDP becoming over fourteen times larger than it was in 1989. In that same period the U.S. GDP doubled. After World War II India had a larger GDP than China and never felt the same urgency as China to modernize and expand the economy. Actions have consequences and, in this case, it means China can push India around on their mutual border. China believes that India's corrupt and inefficient educational system and higher levels of government corruption will prevent India from ever catching up with China economically, or militarily.
Another reason for this Chinese sense of superiority is that India is still haunted by the last battle with Chinese forces back
in 1962. In a month of fighting (starting on 20 October) India lost 7,000 troops (57 percent prisoners, the rest dead or missing) compared to 722 Chinese dead. China declared a ceasefire that India accepted. China actually advanced in two areas, a thousand kilometers apart and ended up taking 43,000 square kilometers of Indian territory.
The source of the 1962 war and current border disputes are a century old and heated up again when China resumed control over Tibet in the 1950s. From the end of the Chinese empire in 1912 until 1949, Tibet had been independent. But when the communists took over China in 1949, they sought to reassert control over their "lost province" of Tibet. This began slowly, but once all of Tibet was under Chinese control in 1959, China had a border with India and there was immediately a disagreement about exactly where the border should be. That’s because, in 1914, the newly independent Tibet government worked out the McMahon line border with the British, who controlled India. China considers this border agreement illegal and wants 90,000 square kilometers back. India refused, especially since this would mean losing much of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India and some bits elsewhere there and all along the new northern border.
India, as a democracy with a free press, has a public discussion of Chinese tactics and possible Indian responses. China also tries to take advantage of the Indian media freedom by buying favorable coverage in the Indian press. This is done via bribes, offers of investments or loans, and economic concessions within China. Military strategy in China, since ancient times, has placed emphasis on having a powerful military but using it mainly as a threat and giving enemies an incentive to accept bribes and allow China to get what they want. Yet India has rarely been seen as an enemy of China. There is nothing valuable on their mutual border which for thousands of years has been along high mountains and thinly populated lowland jungles. Neither India nor China had any incentive to raise large armies to threaten each other.
Because of this background, the border disputes of the last 60 years are seen by Indians as inexplicable and by Chinese as overdue restitution for centuries of humiliations inflicted by Western invaders. India, ever since it emerged from centuries of British colonial rule in 1947, insisted that India and China shared a background of oppression by the West. China sees India as trying to perpetuate Western crimes against China. To most Chinese Indians look and sound like Westerners therefore India must be an enemy of China. India has come to accept that the Chinese are obsessed with making India pay for real or imagined wrongs inflicted by Western imperialists and see nothing wrong with using ancient Chinese imperialist methods to get their way. Suddenly British imperialism is not the worst thing that could ever happen to India. China is seeking to provide something much worse and much closer.
The latest phase of this ongoing campaign began earlier this year when China revived its border war with India over Pangong Lake, which is largely in Tibet and connected to Chinese claims on Kashmir territory. This is the longest lake in Asia and part of the 134-kilometer long lake extends 45 kilometers into the Indian Ladakh region. China is using its usual SSSN tactics to slowly move the border into territory long occupied by India. The portion of the lake shore in dispute has no native population. The only people who visit the area are soldiers from India or China.
Indian efforts to get China to negotiate a more permanent settlement of border disputes are not working. This is again demonstrated as India fails to get negotiations going that will settle the Pangong Lake dispute once and for all. The Chinese will issue vague press releases but they will not negotiate a final settlement. Even when they negotiate a deal the Chinese tend to see these “permanent” agreements are temporary ceasefires.
The latest Pakistani Islamic terror offensive in Indian Kashmir has left 177 terrorists dead so far this year, 12 percent (22) of them Pakistani. All the Pakistanis and some of the local lads were trained in Pakistani training camps just across the border in the third of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan since 1948. Back then the newly created nations (India and Pakistan) disagreed over who should get Kashmir. By the terms of the agreement that created the two new nations, Kashmir belonged to India. In the first of many pointless disputes with India, Pakistan attacked, seeking to grab all of Kashmir. The Indians responded and halted the Pakistani advance and did not escalate the war further by trying to push the Pakistanis out of the third of Kashmir they had taken. For over 70 years Pakistan has been fighting to take all of Kashmir.
Conventional warfare did not work for Pakistan because the Indian forces were larger and often better armed. Worse, Pakistan had to do the attacking and have lost three such wars since 1948. Desperate for a solution, in the 1980s Pakistani generals came up with the concept of a secret Islamic terrorism campaign against Indian forces in Kashmir. This came at a time when western Pakistan served as a base area for Afghan “holy warriors” fighting the infidel (non-Moslem) Russians in Afghanistan. Actually, a lot of the Russian troops were Moslem, but they were still invaders and Pakistan offered refuge for millions of Afghans fleeing the violence. Saudi Arabia provided billions of dollars to support the refugees and arm those willing to fight. Among the refugees were over 200,000 armed men willing to make regular trips into Afghanistan to attack the Russians.
In all of 2019 157 Islamic terrorists were killed in Kashmir, 20 percent of them Pakistani. In 2018 a record (for the last decade) 257 Islamic terrorists died. The Islamic terrorists are largely teenagers and men in their 20s, protesting Indian rule and unemployment caused by two decades of Islamic terrorism with attacks on Indian security forces as well as Kashmiris who oppose the Pakistani violence. The violence often shut down schools. Students who wanted to keep up with their studies have gone to schools in non-Moslem areas in southern Kashmir. The violence isn't all just about anger at the unemployment and constant presence of security forces. There is also a civil war going on among Kashmiri Moslems, with a minority wanting an independent Kashmir, but most wanting to remain a part of India and get the local economy going again. The kids often just want to raise hell. For all of India in 2020 285 rebels or Islamic terrorists have died so far, along with 64 civilians and 89 soldiers and police.
In Kashmir there are two fighting seasons. Most of the year the weather is warm enough for the Islamic terrorists to establish base camps out in the forests. But during the three or four months of freezing weather the Islamic terrorists spend more time in populated areas in order to survive. The changes the nature of the fighting because more civilians are around when the gun battles break out. So far this year the security forces carried out 72 missions against known or suspected Islamic terrorist camps. During the rest of 2020s the Islamic terrorists will come to areas the police and soldiers live in and regularly patrol.
For all of 2019 621 died throughout India because of terrorist and rebel violence. Most of these deaths were due to communist rebels in eastern India and tribal rebels in the northeast. This year the Pakistani Islamic terrorists will be back in the lead, as they were until the last decade, when the Pakistani effort faltered.
Adopting Islamic terrorism against India as a state policy in the 1980s and trying to keep it secret continues to damage all aspects of Pakistani life. Allowing the military to achieve a dominant position in the country entrenched corruption and hampered reform efforts. India and Pakistan started out on relatively equal footing when they were created in the late 1940s. It was downhill for Pakistan after that. Part of Pakistan (Bangladesh) seceded in the 1970s, and has been improving its condition since then, and is now in better shape than Pakistan.
A minority of the casualties in Kashmir are from the regular Pakistani use of artillery, mortars and machine-guns firing into Indian territory. The Indians return fire and Pakistan uses that as proof that India started it. Enough independent observers have witnessed what really happens and worldwide Pakistan is generally regarded as the aggressor. Despite that, and growing pressure (and penalties) on Pakistan to stop supporting international terrorism, the violence continues.
This Pakistani firepower is often just a distraction so a group of Islamic terrorists can cross the border into India. This year there have been 6-10 such attempts a month, about half of them successful. The failed efforts usually result in several of the infiltrators dead or wounded and those still able fleeing back into Pakistan. In the last three years there have been an average 3-4 border crossing efforts a week, about half of them successful.
September 20, 2020: In Pakistan a revitalized Pakistani Taliban have become more active this month, with Taliban violence on the Pakistani side of the border a daily occurrence. The greater activity is the result of a July merger of six smaller Pakistani Islamic terrorist groups into the Pakistani Taliban. Before that these smaller outfits had sometimes clashed with the Pakistani Taliban and rarely cooperated in joint operations against the government forces. That has changed and Pakistani troops stationed in the northwestern tribal territories are suffering more casualties and stress because of it.
September 15, 2020:
Pakistan sees itself as the main beneficiary of the ongoing Afghan peace talks between the Pakistan-controlled Taliban, the United States and the elected Afghan government. The stated objective of the Taliban is to replace the current government with a Taliban controlled religious dictatorship. That means there will be no peace and any Pakistanis with knowledge of what has gone on in Afghanistan since the 1970s can see how this will end. Worst case is all foreign troops leaving and foreign aid is withdrawn because of the corruption. In that situation Afghanistan returns to its traditional (over the last few thousand years) condition. That means the country/region we call Afghanistan gets picked apart by more powerful neighboring states. Traditionally this has meant Persians and Indians. Now it is Iranians and Pakistanis, who are basically Indian Moslems who demanded their own Moslem state when India was created in 1947. Pakistan is broke and economically dependent on China. The Chinese don’t want their numerous investments in Pakistan attacked by Islamic terrorists, tribal separatists or anyone else. Pakistan justifies (to China) the expense of meddling in Afghanistan because it is necessary to control the Pushtun minority in Pakistan. There are twice as many Pushtun in Pakistan as in Afghanistan but Pakistan has a much larger non-Tribal (Punjabi and Sindi) population so the Pushtuns are only 15 percent of all Pakistanis. The Baluchi tribes account for another four percent. That makes about 19 percent of Pakistanis tribal and not particularly happy with the Chinese presence or the brutal treatment of tribal people in Pakistan. Extending that brutal control to Afghanistan won’t improve anything in Pakistan.
Iran, which historically controlled, when it was profitable to do so, much of western Afghanistan did so at the same times the northern Indians controlled eastern Afghanistan and Kabul. This foreign occupation was expensive because the tribes were constantly fighting the foreigners and each other. When the once lucrative Silk Road trade route between China and the Middle East/Europe fell out of use because of cheaper travel via faster, safer and heavily armed European ships Afghanistan went back to being a region without a unifying government. That changed in the 18th century when the various tribes agreed to declare a kingdom of Afghanistan mainly to keep the foreigners out. A Pushtun king in Kabul justified his job by negotiating with foreigners and providing a neutral space for quarreling tribes to send leaders to try and negotiate an end to a mutually destructive tribal feud. Taliban leaders say they want to unite Afghanistan as a caliphate (Islamic religious dictatorship). That fact that caliphates have never worked well or maintained any unity for long is seen as irrelevant. It is God’s Will that Afghanistan become a caliphate. It’s one of those non-negotiable things that kaffirs (non-Moslems) simply cannot comprehend.
Neither Pakistan nor Iran see any profit in annexing adjacent portions of Afghanistan. While Pakistan, or at least the Pakistani military, is content to “tax” Afghan drug operations that need access to Pakistan, the Iranians, like most civilians in the region, see the opium and heroin coming out if Afghanistan as something evil that much be fought. That means the Afghan/Iran border has long been a combat zone between Iranian security forces and armed Afghan drug smugglers.
Americans want to be done with the military and economic costs of having troops in Afghanistan. The problem with that attitude is that Americans can leave Afghanistan but Afghanistan won’t leave America. The heroin production will continue and major Islamic terrorist groups will have a sanctuary from which to plan attacks on the Wests, especially the United States.
September 11, 2020: In Pakistan another journalist (Bilal Farooqi) has been arrested for criticizing the military. Most Pakistani media outlets have been intimidated (or simply shut down) by the military and the main venue for news criticizing the media is via Internet social media. The military monitors this and goes after anyone in Pakistan who is considered disrespectful of the military.
September 10, 2020: India and China announced that they had reached an agreement on a ceasefire on their border near Panglong Lake. The main motivation for this deal is the weather. Six months of freezing temperatures, lots of snow and the lake freezing over are underway. Both sides are maintaining troops in the disputed area and it requires a major effort just to keep those troops fed and warm up there.
September 8, 2020: In northern India (Tibet border) Chinese troops once more advanced on Indian troops near Panglong Lake. This time there was no fistfight because Indian forces opened fire with a lot of assault rifles and machine-guns. The bullets went over the heads of the Chinese troops, who returned a similar barrage. The Chinese backed off. Lately both sides have concentrated on cold-weather shelters for the troops and stockpiling food, fuel and other supplies.
August 29, 2020: In northern India (Tibet border) both Chinese and Indian troops fired into the air. This was done while the troops were far apart but near the shore of Panglong Lake. Two days later there as a similar incident of gunfire by both sides.
August 28, 2020: In northwest India (Kashmir) troops patrolling the border fence discovered an entrance to a tunnel from Pakistan. The tunnel was about eight meters (25 feet) beneath the surface and was apparently used to smuggle Pakistani based Islamic terrorists and weapons into India. Similar tunnels had been discovered in 2012 and 2014 because they were poorly constructed and either left depressions in the ground, which alert border fence patrols noticed or, in another case a tunnel under construction collapsed because of heavy rains. Captured Islamic terrorists also revealed the existence of the tunnel project. Since 2014 India has not detected any more tunnel building activity and has been using new tunnel detection equipment to aid with that. India may seek the latest tunnel detection tech from Israel, which already supplies India with many border security devices. In addition to the tunnels India has also detected Pakistan using UAVs to deliver small quantities of weapons and other supplies to Islamic terrorists operating on the Indian side of the border.
August 23, 2020: Ahmad Noorani, a Pakistani journalist on a six-month fellowship in the United States, published a report on corruption in one Pakistani military family. The report was detailed and very embarrassing for retired lieutenant general Asim Bajwa, who is now back on the payroll as a senior government advisor. Bajwa condemned the report but could not contradict it. The report listed names, back accounts, assets and dates of transactions. It made it clear that corruption was involved turning a middle-class officer into a senior army commander whose family fortune had mysteriously grown to over $100 million. Bajwa is typical of many Pakistan officers and if Noorani had been in Pakistan while preparing this report for publication, the report would not have been published because Noorani would be in prison, missing or dead.
August 22, 2020:
Pakistan announced that it had ordered that the 2015 sanctions against the Afghan Taliban be enforced. A similar order was issued a year ago. Pakistan has never enforced these sanctions and makes these announcements as part of an effort avoid financial sanction for supporting Islamic terrorism. For decades Pakistan has been lying about its support for Islamic terrorism and those lies are catching up with them.
In February the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) told Pakistan that it made enough progress in reducing support for Islamic terrorism since October 2019 to avoid being blacklisted. But Pakistan was not safe because the FATF monitoring continued.
Back in October 2019 Pakistan had achieved only four of the 27 tasks the FATF set to get Pakistan out of trouble. Pakistan should have gone onto the blacklist for that but pressure from China got Pakistan another “last chance”. Since 2019 Pakistan has raised the number of goals achieved to 14. All 27 reform goals must be met by the next FATF review in July 2020. Since 2016 it appeared that Pakistan was not making enough effort to block Pakistan-based terrorist groups from using the international banking system to finance their violence. Pakistan keeps making just enough progress to keep themselves off the FATF black list. Pakistan had been on the gray list from 2012 to 2015 and that was bad for businesses that import or export or need to get foreign loans or sell bonds. After 2015 Pakistan was still on the FATF list but not designated as dangerous. Being on the gray portion of the list makes it more expensive to do business and is very bad for the reputation of Pakistan and Pakistanis. The situation is worse this time because decades of corruption and government mismanagement have left Pakistan unable to raise enough money for its government budget. This threatens the Pakistani military, which has always taken a disproportionate portion of the budget and does not want to reduce its spending. Being on the FATF blacklist would be a financial and economic crisis for Pakistan. Since China is the major foreign investor in Pakistan, and Pakistan is the largest customer for Chinese weapons, China has much at stake here. There is only so much China can do to keep Pakistan off the black list.
China played a major role in keeping Pakistan off the gray list in early 2018 but the odds were against Pakistan staying off the list because it has long been an open secret that Pakistani support for its own pet Islamic terrorists included making it easier for Islamic terrorists in general to do business in Pakistan. The United States has been gathering evidence to justify putting Pakistan back on the FATF gray list (along with Ethiopia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and Tunisia). FATF meets every three months to consider new evidence to get nations on, or off, the list. The U.S. now considers Pakistan a problem in the war against terrorism and not a reliable partner. India and Afghanistan share that view as do a growing number of UN members.
August 17, 2020: It’s been three years now that nearly a million
Rohingya refugees have been an involuntary presence in Bangladesh. While the refugees were welcomed when they arrived in large numbers during 2017, after about a year the presence of nearly a million displaced Rohingya in an already crowded country became a problem. Most of the Rohingya refugees are in an area called Cox’s Bazaar and their presence tripled the local population. At first the locals were eager to help fellow Moslems, for a few months at least. But that expected short visit has gone on for three years and there is no end in sight. The appearance of the covid19 virus has made the situation worse because the refugee “villages” are more crowded and disorganized than the nearby Bangladeshi towns and villages.