India-Pakistan: India-Pakistan February 2024


February 29, 2024: India, now the country with largest population in the world, at over 1.4 billion people, is largely at peace and prospering while neighboring Pakistan, with a population of 243 million, continues struggling with the Islamic terror groups it created and supported for so long and, worse, the internal corruption and mayhem that policy has sustained. India has 172 million Moslems who are much better off than their fellow Moslems in Pakistan. Most Indians are Hindu, the third largest religion in the world with nearly all its believers residing in India. That means Hindus, who worship multiple gods, comprise 15 percent of the world population while Christians comprise 31 percent and Moslems 25 percent. Most of the Christians are in the prosperous Western nations and over half the Christians recognize the pope in Rome, Italy, as their religious leader. The Papacy and various Moslem religious leaders will often unite to oppose religious and political oppression in various parts of the world.

The Papacy strives to be ecumenical and allies of all religions, especially Christians, Moslems and Jews who all trace their religious beliefs back to the same ancient origins. These begin 4,000 years ago with Abraham who pioneered monotheism, that is the worship of one god. Jews consider Abraham the founder of Judaism and out of that came Christianity 2,000 years ago and Islam 1,400 years ago. Pakistan is largely Moslem with 2.1 percent of the population Hindu and 1.3 percent Christian. Even within Islam there are sects. The largest collection of sects are Sunni, which account for 80 percent of Moslems. The largest minority is Shia, which comprise about ten percent of all Moslems.

In addition to religious differences, Pakistan also has a problem unique to the region; armed forces that have since the 1950s dominated the political process and become very wealthy, corrupt, and politically powerful as a result. That seemed to change on February 8th, 2024, when national voting for seats in the 342 seats in the National Assembly delivered some surprising results. Jailed army critic Imran Khan’s PTI party won 102 seats. The Moslem League PMLM won 73 seats and the Pakistan People’s Party PPP party won 54. It takes 169 seats to form a government and, since no party had that many seats, there will be another coalition government. Coalition rule is the most common outcome of parliamentary elections and in the current situation two parties, the PTI and PMLM, have 175 seats and together can select a prime minister who will then select ministers to head the various government ministries. The new government coalition has not yet been formed amid accusations of some irregularities in the voting. As Pakistan elections go, the recent ones were largely free of bad behavior. Forming coalition governments has always been a problem that eventually gets resolved.

The 2024 election results were seen as a rebuke of military attempts to retain power. The elections also took place after another series of confrontations between the Pakistani military and the civilian government which, in 2018, the military won control of by gaining the cooperation of key judges and a newly elected president. That was because old scams still worked back then. The generals created more confrontations with India and declared that Islamic terrorism was no longer, since 2013, the major threat to Pakistan. The main threat was once again India. This merely increased Indian, American and Afghan anger at Pakistani support of Islamic terrorism and the inability of the Pakistani politicians to control their generals. Meanwhile India further disrespected the Pakistani military by continuing to consider China its main security threat. India has to deal with some internal unrest, which does far less damage than what Pakistan has to deal with. Islamic terrorist violence, mainly in Indian Kashmir, is less of a problem than tribal rebels in the northeast and communist Maoist ones in eastern India. Both these threats are being slowly diminished while Pakistan continues to make unofficial war on its neighbors.

Another problem is that the Pakistani economy is becoming more dependent on Chinese investment as well as Chinese diplomatic support and arms exports. The Pakistani government’s pro-Islamic terrorist attitudes have left it with few allies besides China, Iran, and North Korea. Pakistan needs help, but mostly from Pakistanis as the ills that torment Pakistan can only be resolved from within. That is happening despite opposition from the military because the defense budget is unusually high and a lot of it goes to support the lavish lifestyles and foreign bank accounts of senior officers, plus Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. That has caused a financial crisis that other nations, especially Arab oil states, the United States and international lenders like the IMF and World Bank, have kept from becoming a catastrophe. But now the financial problems are so great that all the usual sources of emergency cash are insisting that defense spending be curbed or there will be no more financial aid. The house of cards Pakistani generals built and maintained since the 1970s is collapsing, not because of religious or military issues but because the nation the generals had plundered for so long is bankrupt and no one is willing to bail them out this time. The results of the 2024 elections made that very clear.

Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan has sharply declined since 2014 when public outrage forced the military to shut down the last sanctuary in North Waziristan, for Islamic terrorists that were not under the military’s control and, worse, trying to turn Pakistan into an Islamic dictatorship. That would have threatened the Pakistani military and could not be tolerated. Islamic terrorist violence did not completely disappear in Pakistan after 2014 and the military blamed that on outsiders like India, Afghanistan, and the United States. In mid-2021 a decade of support for the Afghan Taliban resulted in the overthrow of the elected government and a halt to two decades of economic growth for Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Pakistan also has to deal with a growing non-violent Pushtun Rights movement that wants to get the Pakistan military out of the tribal territories on both sides of the Afghan border. The military responded with arrests, kidnappings, and murder. At the same time the Pakistani generals continued sheltering and supporting Islamic terror groups that only attacked foreign nations, especially India. This contributed to growing hostility towards the military within Pakistan and escalating international criticism.

In 2018 the U.S. became more public about the fact that Pakistan was dishonest and unreliable. The Americans pointed out that they had foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the previous 15 years, and Pakistan gave back nothing but lies and deceit. This backlash began in 2011 when a U.S. raid into Pakistan killed Osama bin Laden. This angered many Pakistanis because it showed that the generals had lied about their involvement with sheltering bin Laden. That raid also made it clear that the military was unable to detect or stop the invading Americans or stop local Islamic radicals from later carrying out revenge attacks that left hundreds of civilians dead. The 2024 election results were the result of all these problems and the votes of the people they recently elected to do something about the mess the Pakistani army has created.

India does have border disputes with China and the Chinese have been more aggressive, but largely nonviolent about asserting their claims.



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