November 15, 2015:
In Pakistan the army is demanding more political support for the National Action Plan (NAP). This was the collection of counter-terror measures enacted after the December 2014 massacre of children at a school for Army families. This included resumption of executions, military terrorism courts (to speed prosecutions) and suspension of laws to make it easier to arrest and punish those suspected of terrorist activity. That has resulted in the arrest of over 50,000 suspects so far. Most of these were soon released because of lack of evidence. Among those arrested are nearly 10,000 clerics suspected to supporting Islamic terrorism. Many of those are indeed fond of Islamic terrorism but they are also popular and deliver lots of votes to local politicians. Keeping these clerics in jail is difficult and the generals do not like that. Nearly 100,000 Afghan refugees have been forced to return to Afghanistan and nearly a hundred convicted Islamic terrorists have been executed. The army accuses politicians and officials of refusing to support the NAP and trying to disable the program. A growing number of politicians (and Pakistanis in general) accuse the army of trying to use the NAP to gain control of other parts of the government or at least assert a veto power over government decisions. Some describe this as a creeping coup.
Meanwhile the army campaign against Islamic terrorists in northwest Pakistan has slowed down because of the cold weather. Most of the action is now patrols by ground forces and air strikes by the air force. Pakistan is using a growing force of UAVs to patrol parts of the northwest where Islamic terrorists are still active and find targets for Pakistan’s smart-bomb equipped F-16s.
In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) security forces are increasing efforts to suppress violence by tribal separatists as well as Islamic terrorists responsible for the growing number of attacks on Shia and non-Moslems. The raids have uncovered some large stockpiles of weapons and bomb making materials. The army is accused of using illegal methods (kidnapping, extortion, murder) to deal with the rebels and Islamic terrorists.
To most Afghans it is obvious Pakistan is still backing the Taliban and the related violence. Efforts to start peace talks with the Afghan Taliban have failed mainly because Pakistan refuses to cut its support of, and control over, Islamic terror groups (like the Taliban and Haqqani Network) operating in Afghanistan. Recently leaked CIA emails show that the U.S. believed Pakistan was using the Taliban since 2008 to try and block India from delivering military and economic aid to Afghanistan. These efforts caused some problems for the Indians, but the Afghans added more security and allowed India to bring in its own armed security personnel and this kept the Indian aid effort going. At this point all Pakistan and Afghanistan can agree on is the fact that peace talks with the Taliban are on hold until the Taliban settle their own internal problems (with dissident factions and ISIL).
Pakistan is more frequently being accused to sponsoring and supporting Islamic terrorism. The U.S. has long publicly accused Iran, Sudan, and Syria of being “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” These are countries that have long promoted and supported the use of terrorism (usually Islamic terrorism). But there are some major players in this area who are not on this list, most notably Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. Each of these three is a special case and that is apparently enough to keep them off the list. Pakistan got into the Islamic terrorism business just before Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and was soon a major ally of the United States in an effort to support Afghans who were continuing to fight the Russian forces. After the Russians withdrew in 1989 Pakistan increased its support for Islamic terrorism, especially against India. During the Cold War leftist Indian governments was generally hostile to the United States and the West so America felt no pressing need to protect them from Pakistani sponsored Islamic terrorists. But at the same time Pakistan was not trying to inhibit the many Islamic terrorists who had flocked to Afghanistan after the Russians left. Many of these international Islamic terrorists were also able to move through and operate in Pakistan as long as they did not attack Pakistanis. This continued into the 1990s but right after September 11, 2001 the United States told Pakistan to join the fight against Islamic terrorism or be considered at war with America. Pakistan chose to join the War On Terror while continuing to support Islamic terrorists operating in Pakistan. The United States complained but generally did not press Pakistan on the issue. Thus Pakistan continues to be a base for many Islamic terrorists.
Since 2014 Pakistan has succeeded in driving most Islamic terrorists out of North Waziristan and that has become a big problem for Afghanistan. A minor problem is Pakistan accusing Afghanistan of harboring Taliban factions that are still active inside Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban leadership moved to Afghanistan by late 2104 and from there plans and carries out revenge attacks because of the Pakistani military operation that has driven many Pakistani Taliban into eastern Afghanistan. The Pakistani counter-terror operations in North Waziristan began in June 2014 and terrorist activity (according to the Pakistani military) fell by about 70 percent over the next year. That exaggerates a bit as the decline, if you measure by civilian deaths, is closer to fifty percent. Either way it is a big drop and most Pakistanis notice and appreciate it. The main reason for the decrease is the damage the offensive has done to Islamic terror organizations. In sixteen months the Pakistani anti-terrorist offensive killed over 3,500 Islamic terrorists country-wide (but mostly in North Waziristan) and led to many more surrendering, deserting or fleeing to Afghanistan or other parts of Pakistan. The military estimates that over 20,000 Islamic terrorists were in North Waziristan in June 2014. Nearly all of these Islamic terrorists have been killed or driven out of North Waziristan. Some 2,500 were captured, providing lots of information on Islamic terrorist operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the country. There has been a noticeable drop in terrorist attacks against civilians but intelligence specialists know that the terror groups are scrambling to reorganize and rebuild, so the offensive continues but at a different pace and with different tactics. Because of this threat the Pakistani army announced in September that troops will continue operating in the northwestern tribal territories at least until 2019. So far these counter-terror operations have resulted in about 300 soldiers killed and the army intends to keep their losses low. But because most of the Islamic terrorists in North Waziristan fled to Afghanistan there is more violence there. Not just in eastern Afghanistan where most of the Pakistani terrorists ended up, but in other parts of Pakistan as well. The new arrivals needed money and local allies and they found them in the drug gangs, who are always looking for more mercenary killers. This is the same deal that has kept the Afghan Taliban going for since the 1990s and the drug gangs needed help in securing smuggling routes through northern Afghanistan. That part of the country is very anti-drug and anti-Taliban. So the reinforcements from Pakistan made a difference and the Afghan Army is shifting units to the north to deal with this.
Islamic terrorist violence is also up in Bangladesh, a largely Moslem nation adjacent to northeast India that never had much of a Islamic terrorist problem but they do have some local Islamic terrorists and they have been increasingly targeting local journalists who oppose Islamic terrorism. Of the 27 journalists killed by Islamic terrorists in Bangladesh since 1992, four were killed in 2015 and this appears to have been a deliberate escalation of such attacks. The government is under pressure to act but that is not easy given that many politicians don’t mind seeing journalists intimidated and some politicians quietly support Islamic terrorism.
November 13, 2015: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) police, acting on a tip, found a group of armed Maoist rebels in a rural area. Following a one hour gun battle most of the Maoists got away but four bodies were found along with three weapons. Normally the Maoists seek to take their dead with them as well as all their weapons. But when pressed both will be left behind. In eastern India (particularly Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand states) such operations against Maoist rebels are common. While Maoist deaths are about the same as 2014 (100 a year) losses among civilians and security forces are down by half. Maoist related deaths are on track to be about 30 percent lower than 2014. The government has been using a large (over 100,000 para-military police) force in the area since 2009 to try and eliminate the Maoist rebellion. It has been slow going because the Maoists are fighting against real problems (mainly corruption and bad government) in eastern India. The Maoists are a lot weaker now but still have local supporters.
November 11, 2015: After years of Indian requests Bangladesh has handed over Indian tribal rebel leader Anup Chetia. He had been trying for years to obtain political asylum somewhere because India wanted to prosecute Chetia for murder, kidnapping and extortion while he as active as a leader of separatist rebels in the northeast (Assam).
Indian and Pakistani military leaders again met on the Kashmir border to reaffirm efforts to reduce violence on the LOC (Line of Control) in Kashmir. Such incidents still occur despite a 20o3 ceasefire.
November 7, 2015: In northwest India (Rajasthan) 250 Russian troops began joint counter-terrorism training with a similar number of Indian soldiers. This will continue until the 20th.
November 6, 2015: India has agreed to provide Afghanistan with four used Mi-24 helicopter gunships. Afghanistan, India and Pakistan already operate some M-24s as well as the upgraded version (Mi-35). India is replacing its Mi-24s with American AH-64s. India has also agreed to provide specialist training (inside India) for Afghan officers and special operations troops.
November 5, 2015: In the last few weeks India and Somalia have agreed to cooperate in dealing with Indian Ocean piracy and are devising ways to implement that cooperation. This comes after a recent EU (European Union) decision to reduce the piracy “high risk” area to exclude the west coast of India. Since 2010 shipping companies have been advised to take additional precautions while moving through the Indian Ocean between India and Africa. Now only the area off Somalia and Kenya are considered at risk. The EU recommendation carries a lot of weight because it influences maritime insurance rates and the legal liability of major shipping companies. Thus is was more expensive to operate in a high risk area and these higher costs were passed on to the customers of the shipping companies (Indian firms and consumers). There has been no known Somali activity off the west coast of India since 2012. There is a lot less piracy off the Somali coast as well, mainly because the international anti-piracy patrol has made it virtually impossible for Somali pirates to seize ships of any value.
November 4, 2015: The head of the Pakistan military visited Saudi Arabia and proclaimed that Pakistan would defend Saudi Arabia if the kingdom were attacked. The only country likely to do that is Iran, which does not yet have nuclear weapons while Pakistan does. This comes after Iranian and Pakistani leaders met on October 28th to agree on more security and defense cooperation deals. Both countries have problems with Sunni Islamic terrorists as well as well armed drug smuggling gangs.
November 3, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (Bajur) a roadside bomb killed an anti-Taliban tribal leader. The Taliban was suspected but since no one took credit it could have been the result of a tribal feud.
November 2, 2015: In northwest India Pakistani troops again broke the LOC ceasefire and killed two Indian border guards. This incident was believed to be part of an operation to distract Indian border guards so that some Islamic terrorists could move from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir.
October 30, 2015: South Korea recently sold a hundred of its locally designed and made K9 155mm self-propelled howitzers to India for about $7.5 million each. South Korea has already sold 350 K9s to Turkey and 120 to Poland. While superficially similar to the American M109 the K9 is a heaver (46 tons versus 28 for the M109), carries more ammo and has twice the range (up to 56 kilometers in part because of a barrel that is a third longer). There is more automation on the K9, so it has a crew of five versus six on the M-109. South Korea thus joins Germany in their effort to build a suitable replacement for the elderly M109 design. The chief competitor for the Indian contract was Russia which offered its similar 42 ton 2S19. The K-9 won on the basis of technical capabilities, field tests and a South Korean reputation for quality and reliability.
October 29, 2015: In northwest India on the Kashmir border Indian troops ambushed a group of Islamic terrorists and later discovered that the one they managed to kill (the rest got away in the dark) was a senior commander in Lashkar e Taiba (LeT). This is an Islamic terror group organized and long supported by the Pakistani military, mainly to organize and carry out terrorist attacks in India. The dead man was being sought for involvement in several attacks.
October 28, 2015: Iran and Pakistan agreed to join forces (share intelligence, coordinate border security) in the struggle against ISIL. Both countries have supported (or tolerated) Islamic terrorist groups that attacked their neighbors. Pakistan has been the biggest offender, tolerating anti-Shia Islamic terrorist groups for decades and founding the Taliban, which was responsible for killing thousands of Shia in Afghanistan. Although Pakistan now has nukes and is not suffering from international sanctions, Iran seems on its way to eliminating both of those shortcomings. That would mean Iran would once more assume its traditional role as a serious threat to Pakistan. With that in mind, Pakistan is playing nice and hoping for the best.
Former (1989-97) Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani revealed that Iran had received nuclear research help from Pakistan in the 1980s. It was unclear if the assistance was official or part of the unofficial nuclear weapons data black marker run by Pakistan’s chief nuclear weapons scientist Abdal Qadir Khan. The Kahn network was made public in 2004 and shut down. Kahn was never really punished and is considered a national hero in Pakistan.
October 27, 2015:
Pakistani Taliban crossed the Afghan border into Pakistan (South Waziristan) and attacked a border post. Seven Pakistani soldiers died in this attack and four other died further north (Khyber) when Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan fired mortars at a Pakistani border post. Pakistan complained to Afghanistan but was told that this was largely the fault of the Pakistanis whose offensive in North Waziristan had driven over 5,000 Islamic terrorists into eastern Afghanistan and there were not enough troops and police available to deal with such an influx of armed men.
October 26, 2015:
In northwest Pakistan (Badakhshan province) there was a major earthquake on the Afghan border that killed over 300 people in Afghanistan (mainly) and neighboring Pakistan. The local Islamic terrorists called a truce but, as in the past, that was for show. It is common for local warlords, government officials and Islamic terrorists to use the quake as an excuse to loot and steal from damaged areas as well as rob relief convoys or extort cash in return for safe passage.
October 25, 2015: In northwest India (Kashmir) Pakistani troops again violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement by firing with machine-guns and mortars at Indian troops across the LOC. This happened in three different parts of the border. The Indians returned fire and when the shootings stopped six Indian civilians were wounded.