May 1, 2011: India eliminated the U.S. F-18 and F-16 from the competition to sell India 126 jet fighters. The U.S. aircraft lost out, not on technical grounds, but because India believed that America could not be relied on to continue supporting the aircraft if India got into a war (like with Pakistan) that the U.S. did not agree with. India sees the U.S. economic sanctions against India in the late 1990s, after India revealed its nuclear weapons program, as an example of this. India has long accused the U.S. of "tilting" towards Pakistan diplomatically. The two remaining fighters (Rafale and Typhoon) are built in Europe, a region that India sees as more dependable when the chips are down. European nations are also less troubled with paying bribes. This is still an unspoken issue, since cracking down on corruption in military procurement is a major issue in India at the moment. Despite losing a shot at this $11 billion contract, the U.S. has already sold over $10 billion in weapons to India in the last decade, and more sales are on the way.
Recently published Wikileaks documents show that the U.S. has long considered Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, a terrorist organization. This was never a secret, but now it's more official. ISI rather openly created the Taliban nearly two decades ago, and has long been caught supporting Islamic terrorists. U.S. military leaders have been more frequently criticizing ISI openly lately, and calling on Pakistan to decide if it is for, or against, Islamic terrorism. Pakistan remains divided on the issue, with many Pakistanis, including senior officials, backing ISI's activities and calling the intel organization brave patriots. Wikileaks documents indicated that ISI and the Pakistani military aid to Islamic terrorists, at least in Afghanistan, was greatly reduced after September 11, 2001, but remained intense for terrorists planning attacks inside India (particularly Kashmir). This has caused some serious tension with India.
The current American push by the U.S. to get Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists has triggered a strong reaction from the ISI and other supporters of Islamic radicalism and terrorism. The American "war on terror" is being depicted as a "war against Islam". This ploy has been in use for a decade now, but in Pakistan it is but part of an effort to tag American efforts as a "war against Pakistan" as well. While India likes to depict the U.S. as pro-Pakistani, many Pakistanis see just the opposite. Perceptions mean a lot, but are warped so much in this part of the world that reality and fantasy sometimes get so entangled that it's hard to tell who is backing who.
Pakistan has come up with a new solution to its problems in Afghanistan, convince the Afghans to drop America as an ally, and switch to China, and Pakistan. This is a hard sell. Pakistan is considered a manipulative, troublemaking neighbor by most Afghans. And China shares a small border with Afghanistan, while the U.S. is far away. Afghans don't like foreigners in general, but have had more bad experiences with the Chinese than with the Americans. Meanwhile, Pakistani officials are visiting China, trying to persuade a reluctant China to become more active in Afghanistan. China has helped train Afghan police, and provided some economic aid, but has otherwise kept a low profile. Apparently, China is not enthusiastic about getting heavily involved in Afghanistan.
Pakistani military leaders feel the U.S. does not appreciate the efforts made to fight Islamic radicals. Pakistan efforts have cost them over 2,800 troops in the last decade (compared with 2,441 foreign troops lost in Afghanistan, 64 percent of them American). But the U.S. sees its efforts as succeeding, while Pakistan still allows the Taliban to use large areas (North Waziristan and much of Baluchistan/southwest Pakistan) as sanctuaries. While many Pakistani military and intel leaders are calling for a halt to U.S. UAV missile strikes in Pakistan, and the removal of CIA and other intel operatives, the U.S. is calling for permission to send commandoes into North Waziristan and expand the UAV campaign into Baluchistan. After years of being diplomatic about this, the U.S. is bringing it all out in the open, much to the discomfort of the Pakistanis, who are being called out on where their loyalties really are.
The U.S. sees Pakistan as an increasingly unstable and divided country. Worse, many senior officials are going public with their support for Islamic radicalism and "inevitable" conflict with India. While most Pakistanis see themselves as victims of Indian aggression and plans to absorb Pakistan, there is also a feeling, especially among Islamic radicals, that Pakistan has a responsibility to complete the conquest, or destruction, of Hindu India. Like Christian Spain, Hindu India was the other great "unfinished conquest" of Islam. Islamic radicals speak often and openly about finishing the job in India and Spain. But some of the advocates for this in Pakistan have access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Under American pressure, and with U.S. assistance, Pakistan has improved the security of its nuclear weapons. But there is more risk of Islamic radicals getting access to nukes in Pakistan than anywhere else. While many Pakistanis, and most of the government leaders, see Islamic radicalism as a threat, the Islamic terrorism works when used on the Pakistani government. Threats to your life, and to your family often work. Thus many senior Pakistanis who oppose Islamic radicalism, remain silent on the subject.
Some Pakistani officials have claimed that American UAV operations in Pakistani air bases have been halted. This is apparently for domestic consumption, as those operations continue. It's long been an open secret that American contractor personnel maintained Predator and Reaper UAVs in at least two Pakistani air bases. Those UAV flights continue because the U.S. has threatened to cut military and economic aid if Pakistan shuts down the UAV operations. The Pakistani economy is in very bad shape, and without the American aid, could slide into collapse, and general chaos. The U.S. has made it clear that they would secure Pakistani nuclear weapons, if Pakistan could not or would not.
Pakistan is in trouble with Iran because of more Pakistanis, most of them former military, going to Bahrain to join the security forces there. Bahrain is currently fighting a Shia insurrection against the Sunni ruling family. Iran supports the Bahraini Shia and wants Pakistan to get its citizens out of Bahrain. Pakistan won't do that, as Bahrain is a major employer of expatriate Pakistanis. As many as 40,000 serve in the Bahraini security services, and many more in the civilian economy. So all Iran gets is apologies and excuses. Pakistanis, particularly Baluchi tribesmen, have been serving as mercenaries in the Persian Gulf for centuries. Like the Gurkhas, the Baluchis were, and still are, in demand because they were reliable and effective.
Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) continues to have far fewer problems with Islamic terrorism than Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan). This is partly due to ethnic and cultural differences, but Bangladeshi government decisions played a role as well. Islamic radical ideas were never embraced by the government, and this was largely because most Bangladeshis were not backers of those Islamic conservative ideas to begin with. This can be seen in how Bangladeshi women have long organized for the abolition of laws and customs that limit women's rights and opportunities. The Islamic conservatives have fought these changes, and regularly lost. But the biggest loser was Islamic terrorism, which has found Bangladesh a particularly hostile environment. Islamic terrorists pass through, but few dare to stick around long.
April 30, 2011: Pakistan announced another successful test of its stealthy Hatf 8 cruise missile. This is the air launched version, with a range of 350 kilometers. Hatf 8 is three decade old technology, and not as complex as the many ballistic missiles Pakistan has also built. Cruise missiles are cheaper than ballistic missiles, and can be recalled (useful if they have nuclear warheads).
April 29, 2011: In eastern India, police, acting on a tip, found a large quantity of explosives hidden in a supposedly empty bunker. The material apparently belonged to a local Maoist group.
In eastern Pakistan, police prevented a mob from burning down a Christian church. The mob had been formed by Islamic clerics, who claimed that local Christians had burned pages from the Koran. Allegations like this are almost always false, but Islamic radicals seeking to get some attention, often use such lies to start a riot.
In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), police and tribal rebels clashed, leaving two policemen and two rebels dead.
April 28, 2011: In Karachi, Pakistan, a terrorist bomb killed four sailors and a passing civilian. Al Qaeda took credit for this attack, and two carried out two days earlier.
April 27, 2011: For the last two days, Afghan and Pakistani troops have fired mortar shells at each other along the border. There were several dead and over a dozen wounded. Some of the violence was on the North Waziristan border, and the cause of all this commotion is the continued use of North Waziristan as a sanctuary for Taliban, and other Islamic terrorists, who are carrying out terror attacks inside Afghanistan.
April 26, 2011: In Karachi, Pakistan, two terrorist bombs killed four and wounded over fifty.
In Indian Kashmir, Islamic terrorists ambushed a police patrol, killing two policemen. With the warmer weather, Islamic terrorists are leaving their hideouts and becoming more active. Hundreds of other Islamic radicals are on the other side of the border, waiting for an opportunity to sneak across.
April 23, 2011: The Pakistani military announced that it had "broken the back" of Islamic terror groups in Pakistan. American officials, and many Pakistanis, disagreed.
April 22, 2011: An American UAV missile strike in North Waziristan killed 23 people, and caused an uproar in Pakistan. Pro-terrorist politicians and journalists pushed the nationalist button as hard as they could, and demanded that the missile attacks cease, as they are an affront to Pakistani independence. That resonates with a lot of Pakistanis, even those who oppose Islamic terrorism. But there is much to fear, as the Taliban and al Qaeda continue to carry out terror attacks against tribal and government leaders in the tribal territories and in Pakistani cities.