April 6, 2014:
In eastern India nearly 40,000 police are being deployed, along with special equipment (sat phones and helicopters) to thwart Maoist threats to April 10
elections. In the past the Maoists have been effective at disrupting elections by launching numerous attacks on polling stations and temporarily taking down cell phone towers to disrupt police communications. The police believe they have the antidote for all that. This is all part of the long-term campaign against the Maoists. In 2009 massive forces were deployed against Maoist rebels in eastern India. In many rural areas where the Maoists were long in control, the leftist rebels are now much weaker on the ground. The government sent 80,000 special police into these areas (including over 70 paramilitary police battalions). Initially the patrols by these police (who are operating as infantry and police) reassured the locals to the point where more people were reporting Maoist movements and locations. This led to more raids on Maoist camps and fewer armed Maoists to contest the police and intimidate civilians. The information gained from Maoist camps and prisoners led to the identification and capture of a lot more Maoist leaders (who often hide in plain sight in cities and towns). The Indian Air Force eventually sent some Mi-17 helicopters equipped to operate at night as well as UAVs. This provided the police with yet another advantage over the Maoists, who now lose even sleep because of the threat of night raids. The air force helicopters are armed, but only fire back if fired on. The helicopters are there for moving police and casualties. The military has been reluctant to get involved in the anti-Maoist campaign and it took a bit of effort to get the air force to help out. The decisive argument was pointing out that this enabled the helicopters to operate under combat conditions but without the risk of heavy losses. So in the end the air force decided it would be useful training.
The anti-Maoist campaign has led to a rapidly growing list of veteran Maoist leaders being arrested and interrogated. Some of these men (and women) report that the five years of police pressure has hurt the Maoists but that the hard c0re members believe they can wait out the police campaign and rebuild down the road. That is because corruption and poor government in the rural east provides an unlimited number of new Maoist recruits.
In the northwest India has completed over 70 percent of the new border fence on the 778 kilometer long Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Kashmir. The next phase of the project is to equip the fence with all-weather day and night sensors that will alert nearby soldiers and police if anyone tampers with the fence.
The Indian Air Force admitted to parliament that Pakistan might also attack if there were a war with China because the Indian Air Force is under strength (34 fighter squadrons rather than the 42 there are supposed to be). Of course the reason for this shortage is corruption, incompetence and inefficiency in the military procurement system and parliament. Then again, the air force may be exaggerating because China has been having a hard time basing and maintaining warplanes in Tibet, which forms most of the border with India.
Meanwhile Pakistan is having problems with its neighbors. Most Afghans blame the Pakistanis for any successes the Taliban have. There is some truth to this as it is no secret that ISI (the Pakistani CIA) created the Taliban in the early 1990s and Pakistan has been supporting Islamic terrorism since the late 1970s. In the last few years more evidence of this Pakistani perfidy has come to light. Officially Pakistan still denies that they sheltered Osama bin Laden, but it’s no secret that Pakistan still allows part of their tribal territories (North Waziristan and Quetta) to be sanctuaries for all manner of Islamic terrorists who operate inside Afghanistan. One of the biggest complaints Afghans have against the Americans is that the Americans are not more forceful in persuading Pakistan to shut down these sanctuaries.
India and Afghanistan now want surplus American military equipment in Afghanistan. Pakistan was the first to ask but both Afghanistan and India see Pakistan using surplus American gear against the neighbors as well as internal malcontents. This began in March when Pakistan proposed that it would be mutually beneficial if the U.S. simply gave Pakistan many of the items U.S. troops used in Afghanistan to deal with the Taliban but would not need in the future and would only transport home and place in storage. It is implied that Pakistan would stop making it very difficult for the United States and NATO to get their equipment into or out of Afghanistan if these goodies were forthcoming. In particular the Pakistanis want the MRAPs (bomb resistant armored trucks). These 7-12 ton beasts cost about a million dollars new (fully equipped) and thousands of them are in Afghanistan with not many hours on them. While some are being given to the Afghans that will still leave over a thousand available because the Afghans have not got the people or infrastructure to operate and maintain many of these vehicles. Pakistan can handle a thousand or more free MRAPS and Pakistani troops would appreciate the lower casualties from the growing number of roadside bombs they are encountering in the tribal territories. A lot of other American equipment (electronics, intelligence analysis software and high-tech items in general) is less likely to be given away to the Pakistanis because ISI would pass on to Islamic terrorists how this gear works and what its vulnerabilities are. India points out that Pakistanis discuss among themselves that the American military aid is actually to be used against foreign, not domestic, enemies. There is evidence of that because Pakistan refuses to go on the offensive against domestic terrorists and continues to maintain a sanctuary for them in North Waziristan. Pakistani political leaders, responding to popular pressure, find that they cannot order the military to go after North Waziristan. Oh, the elected leaders can order such an attack but the generals make excuses and suddenly rumors of another coup start appearing. So the politicians back off and Islamic terrorists continue to survive in North Waziristan. Pakistani politicians don’t trust the Pakistani military and neither does anyone in India or Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military is hated and feared inside Pakistan and throughout the region mainly because the Pakistani generals have been a major supporter, and user, of Islamic terrorism since the late 1970s. While this is discussed openly inside Pakistan, sometimes even in the media, it has always been officially denied. The military intelligence organization (ISI) has handled working with and trying to control the Islamic terrorists. After September 11, 2001 things started to go downhill for the Pakistani military and ISI. The U.S. forced the Pakistani military join the international battle against Islamic terrorism. The alternative was being declared one of the enemy. Pakistan was tight with Islamic terrorists and when the generals allied themselves with the United States many of the Islamic terrorist groups supported and controlled by the ISI rebelled. That led to a lot more Islamic terrorism inside Pakistan and most Pakistanis knew why. The Pakistani military and ISI lost a lot of popular support because of the growing number (eventually over 50,000) of Pakistanis killed by ISI supported Islamic terrorists. Sensing weakness, the Pakistani courts, which had long been used, without much effect, to try and curb military power, began to have an impact. Now a former military dictator (Musharraf) is indicted for treason and more. Coup threats don’t work as well as they used to because many of the troops and junior officers are less likely to obey orders that clearly break the law. The military is still the most powerful institution in the country, but its strength is rapidly declining.
At the same time the United States has concluded that the Pakistani military is being more cooperative and has resumed military aid. In the last year Pakistan received several major items, including high-end military radios, upgrades for 35 Pakistani F-16s and on the way are 374 upgraded M113 armored personnel carriers. Since 2002 the United States has provided $5.2 billion in military equipment, plus a lot more for operational costs. A lot of the latter was stolen, but most of the hardware is not because this stuff is a lifesaver for Pakistani troops, especially those who are fighting Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories.
The U.S. has sharply reduced its UAV missile attacks in Pakistan’s tribal territories. In 2013 there were only 27 such attacks compared to 128 in 2010, the peak year. That fell to 70 in 2011 because the American raid into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Back in 2004 there had only been one such UAV attack in Pakistan, and that slowly increased (two in 2006 and 2005, four in 2007). Then came the American decision to use UAVs more aggressively to hurt Islamic terrorists hiding out in Pakistan (and seemingly immune from Pakistani arrest or action). That led to 33 attacks in 2008 and 53 in 2009 and so on until the peak year of 2010. Yet 2013 was also notable for being the first year ever there were no civilian deaths from these attacks in Pakistan. This happened despite continued Islamic terrorist enthusiasm for using civilians as human shields. This they do because the Islamic terrorists know that American Rules Of Engagement stress keeping civilian casualties to a minimum. So the terrorists try, as much as possible, to surround themselves with women and children whenever possible. Many of these civilians are wives and children of the Islamic radicals. As the CIA intelligence got better, and the locals more insistent on not being human shields, more and more of the civilians were close kin of the terrorists and at least aware of the danger they were in because of their husband's line of work. But the Taliban in Pakistan got a lot of local media sympathy for each of these human shields who died, so the U.S. has relied on getting terrorists when they are alone on the road, with no civilians along. What the U.S. also did was shift more of the UAV use to the Afghan side of the border. This did several things. It made Afghanistan less useful as a terrorist hideout and many Pakistani Islamic terrorists went back to the North Waziristan sanctuary. But once there they found themselves under a lot of pressure from other Islamic terrorists to make attacks in Pakistan. This is what happened and is the major reason Pakistan still tolerates some American UAV attacks in Pakistan. The Islamic terrorist attacks coming out of North Waziristan have become very embarrassing to the Pakistani government and they can’t blame the Americans.
April 5, 2014: China has made it clear (and rather public) to Pakistan that massive (and much needed) Chinese investment is contingent on keeping the Islamic terrorist violence away from these Chinese financed (and often Chinese run) projects. The government is taking extraordinary measures to provide the security the Chinese demand but time will tell if it is adequate.
April 4, 2014: The Pakistani Taliban agreed to extend their ceasefire by six days to give the government time to figure out how to surrender to Taliban demands in a politically acceptable way.
In eastern India (Bihar) police found a cache of 27 Maoist bombs hidden near a police station and apparently meant for the disruption campaign against the upcoming elections. Since civilians are usually the victims of these bombs, the police get a lot of tips from civilians about where the bombs are hidden or placed for actual use.
April 2, 2014: In Pakistan a bomb went off near the convoy moving former military dictator Pervez Musharraf from a hospital back to house arrest in his home. Islamic terrorists have been trying to kill Musharraf for over a decade as he was in power on September 11, 2001 and was the one who decided to join the United States in the fight against Islamic terrorism rather than going to war with America. The Islamic terrorists felt betrayed by this decision and still want Musharraf dead for it.
April 1, 2014: For the first time in its history an elected Pakistani government has actually managed to prosecute the military dictator it replaced. The charge is treason and former dictator Pervez Musharraf stood in court today to be formally accused. The process has been going on for months now and there is still fear that the army will stage yet another coup to prevent one of their own generals being punished by civilians. Musharraf had delayed appearing in court on treason charges for months by citing security or health problems. He also wanted government permission to travel abroad for medical care. Musharraf also threatened to testify against other generals (and describe them doing what he is accused of) if the military does not persuade the government to halt efforts to prosecute him for crimes committed during the last period of military rule (1999-2008). All these delaying tactics failed as the court charged Musharraf with treason. If convicted he could be sentenced to death or life in prison. Something is going on behind the scenes as many generals have made it clear that they are uncomfortable with this prosecution but not willing to intervene. At the same time the generals realize another coup might backfire as many of the troops are also angry at the military leadership. Outside the Pakistani tribal territories the government is also under pressure because of continued attacks by Islamic terrorists on Hindus and Christians.
March 31, 2014: The U.S. commander in Afghanistan made it clear that there are no plans to give Pakistan any surplus American military equipment currently in Afghanistan. The U.S. often offers surplus military equipment to allies, who only have to pay for transportation. Without permission from Pakistan to use Pakistani roads surplus MRAPs have to be flown out and this costs over $100,000 per vehicle.
In Pakistan the Taliban ceasefire officially ended but the Taliban agreed to keep the peace as long as the peace negotiations are going on.
March 29, 2014: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) tribal separatists set off a roadside bomb intending to kill some soldiers but instead killed a five year old girl and wounded 16 others (including three soldiers). In the northwest (North Waziristan) border guards reported that six mortar shells were fired into the area from Afghanistan. This is the second time this month this has happened. These two mortar attacks are believed related to recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Kabul that were traced to terrorist groups based in North Waziristan.
March 28, 2014: The government again demanded that Pakistan do something about the five Iranian border guards kidnapped on February 6th and held in Pakistan. Pakistan insists it is doing all it can and that the five men are not being held in Pakistan. The Islamic terrorists claiming to hold the guards insist that one of the Iranians has been executed. Iran believes that the five Iranian border police are held just across the border in Pakistan (Baluchistan). There are Baluchi tribes on both sides of the border. The religious dictatorship in Iran is hostile to Sunnis and the Iranian Baluchis do not like this at all. During the last few years the Iranian Baluchi rebels have become bolder and more successful in their attacks on Iranian security forces. Iran has responded by executing more captured Baluchi rebels and that has resulted in even more Baluchi violence. Iran demanded that the Pakistani government find the five Iranian border guards fast or Iran would send its own troops into Pakistan to find and free the captive border guards. These threats have been intensifying since early March. On March 1st a senior Pakistani general announced (without providing much detail) that the five Iranian border guards had been released. This was a false claim. On April 4th Iran announced that the five border guards had been released inside Pakistan, although initial reports were that one of them was dead.
In the Pakistani tribal territories the Taliban met with politicians and military commanders to work out a peace deal. The chief government backer of the negotiations was prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is, outside of Pakistan quite reasonable and friendly with American officials. Inside Pakistan Nawaz Sharif is very anti-American and anti-West. He also believes it is possible to bring the Taliban into the government. Nawaz Sharif is recognizing the fact that many Pakistanis support Islamic radicalism because it appears to be the only possible cure for corruption and bad government that has afflicted Pakistan for over 60 years. Nawaz Sharif is a corrupt politician from a very wealthy (and corrupt) family that hopes to somehow turn the Taliban into political allies. But the Taliban announced that they would only agree to a long-term ceasefire if the military halted all operations (especially the use of smart bombs) in North Waziristan, U.S. UAV patrols and missile attacks must also cease completely in North Waziristan and 300 family members of Taliban fighters held by the army must be released. The military opposes these conditions because there are Islamic terrorist groups in North Waziristan that no one, including the Taliban, control and who will not agree to any ceasefire and continue making terror attacks against Pakistanis. The Taliban say they can only control Taliban groups and are not responsible for the others in North Waziristan. The Taliban believe that Nawaz Sharif can actually control the military and force them to meet the Taliban conditions. This will be a hard sell because in the last decade Pakistani Islamic terrorists have killed over 55,000 civilians and security personnel. Some Taliban say they are doing all this to protect Afghan Taliban bases in North Waziristan. All Taliban believe that the Afghanistan Taliban will take control of Afghanistan once the foreign troops leave at the end of the year. Most Afghans do not agree with that but the Taliban are on a Mission From God and not to be argued with.
March 25, 2014: In eastern India (Jharkhand) a Maoist landmine wounded two police.
In Bangladesh war crimes investigators are asking that the largest Islamic political party, Jamaat e Islami be banned because of its connection with atrocities committed during the civil war with Pakistan in 1971. Violent protests by Jamaat members against these accusations have left over 200 dead so far this year and it is feared that further attempts to shut down Jamaat will produce more Islamic terrorists. Despite that, for many Bangladeshis Jamaat represents a possible solution to the corruption that has made the political process dysfunctional and inefficient. But many Bangladeshis cannot forget that Jamaat also sided with West Pakistan during the savage war to break away from being part of Pakistan in the early 1970d. The other political parties used this in 2013 to prosecute elderly Jamaat leaders for crimes committed during the civil war. The accused were convicted and some of them executed. All this was for atrocities committed 42 years ago when these men supported mass murder against Bangladeshis who rebelled against the Pakistani government. As these elderly Jamaat leaders were convicted and punished for crimes committed in 1971 the government braced for more violence from Islamic radicals. Early in 2013 there was Islamic radical violence against Hindus (about ten percent of the 143 million Bangladeshis) which left 47 temples and 700 homes burned. This was part of the response to a court sentencing a senior Islamic conservative politician and religious leader to death after he was convicted of committing war crimes during the 1971 civil war with West Pakistan (back when Bangladesh was East Pakistan.) Jamaat followers promptly went on a violent rampage in an effort to coerce the government into leaving their leaders alone. The 2013 violence killed over a hundred people and the government refused to back down. Hindus were targeted because Islamic radicals are particularly hostile to non-Moslems. What was ironic about this was that many of the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh were against local Hindus, as Pakistan always blamed the rebellion in East Pakistan on India. That was not true as most Bangladeshis (Moslem and Hindu) had a long list of complaints against their “brothers” in West Pakistan. Families of the many victims of the 1971 violence have long demanded that the surviving culprits be brought to justice. Many current Islamic religious leaders in Bangladesh were young Islamic militants in 1971, and supported West Pakistani efforts to suppress separatist activity in East Pakistan. What is now Pakistan (then West Pakistan) was always more into Islamic radicalism than Bangladesh where the local Islamic radicals are still considered a threat. That's one reason why there is a lot less Islamic terrorism in Bangladesh than in Pakistan. Another reason is that the Islamic clergy of Bangladesh never became as radicalized as their counterparts in Pakistan. Part of this was due to history and culture, partly to closer ties between Pakistan and the oil-rich Arab states in Arabia. A lot of that oil money went into funding conservative Islamic missionaries, and a lot more of those missionaries went to Pakistan than to the less hospitable Bangladesh. While not all Pakistanis agree with their conservative, and often radical, Islamic clergy, there is tremendous social pressure to keep quiet about such disagreements. Jamaat, however, was heavily involved with the wrong side of the 1971 civil war and that still has traction with many Bangladeshis. The mainline parties don’t want people to realize that Jamaat itself is split between less-Islamic reformers and more extreme and violent members willing to fight. The government is deliberately doing all it can to goad the Jamaat extremists to be more violent, so everything (especially the anti-corruption ideas) Jamaat represents can be condemned and eliminated.
March 23, 2014: Baluchi Islamic terrorists in Pakistan said they had killed one of the five Iranian border guards they are holding in Pakistan.
In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) a female polio vaccinator was kidnapped from her home, tortured and murdered. Her body was found the next day. This is an escalation in the Taliban war against polio vaccinations. Until now the polio workers were only attacked on the job and police escorts usually prevented that. But going after the polio workers at home is going to make it much more difficult to get people to volunteer. Since February Pakistan has deployed 6,200 polio vaccination teams (with 12,500 workers) guarded by 6,700 police to vaccinate 750,000 children in the tribal territories. This program is not finished yet and won’t be until the end of April.
March 22, 2014: In Pakistan (Baluchistan) an army raid on the compound of known tribal separatists resulted in five civilians being killed and eight arrested.
The Pakistani government censored the 9,000 copies of the International New York Times that are printed and distributed in Pakistan. The local printer was ordered to simply leave blank the portions of the front page and inside pages where the 4,800 word story could be found, about how Pakistani officials knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan before the Americans found and killed the terrorist leader in 2011.
March 21, 2014: In Pakistan (Punjab province) an official investigation found that staff in 32 jails in the province (holding 22,000 prisoners) receive at least $24,000 in bribes each month to allow prisoners access to cell phones and other contraband. Such arrangements enable criminals or terrorists to more easily find guards willing to take a lot more cash to facilitate jail breaks. The government is starting to install cell phone jammers in prisons to combat the problem.
March 20, 2014: The Pakistani military denounced recent Western media revelations about how their government helped hide Osama bin Laden for nearly a decade. All evidence pointed to ISI (Pakistani CIA/Military Intelligence) and efforts by ISI to keep the bin Laden sanctuary effort secret even within ISI. Pakistani officials responded as they usually do by denying all accusations. Nevertheless, the Pakistani explanations of how Osama bin Laden managed to hide out in the military town of Abbottabad for over five years were not convincing. All this was a huge embarrassment for the Pakistani military. To most Pakistanis, this was another example of military incompetence in defending the country, and proof that the army has been lying about its support for bin Laden and his terrorist followers. The army survived this by simply denying it had helped hide bin Laden, and claimed that it had actually helped the Americans find him. Blatant lies and denials have worked for the army in the past, and continue to do so but many Pakistanis never felt the same about their military after the bin Laden raid.