In Pakistan, popular and media anger is rising against the military. The reasons are many. For over half a century, the military has taken a disproportionate share (about 60 percent) of the government income. In addition to this large chunk of the government budget, the military was allowed to build its own economic empire and officers went unpunished as they plundered the military budget for their own personal gain. The military increased popular anger by, half the time, stepping in and overthrowing corrupt and inefficient elected leaders, and running things with equally corrupt and inefficient efforts. The intelligence agency, the ISI, long active in supporting Islamic terrorist groups, is controlled by the military. This has become more of an embarrassment as Islamic terrorists continue to launch attacks inside Pakistan. The ISI insists that there are good Islamic terrorists (mainly those who attack India) and bad ones (who attack Pakistani targets.) But the ISI has not been able to contain the "bad terrorists", nor prevent an increasing number of the "good" ones from going over to the dark side. The Pakistani military is also unpopular because it has lost all its wars with India, and this turned into disdain when American commandos entered Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2nd. Then, on the 23rd, six Taliban "commandos" invaded a Pakistani naval base with seeming ease, and to great effect. This was not the first such attack. Nine Taliban gunmen attacked army headquarters, outside the capital, in late 2009. The attackers killed 14 people and held out for 22 hours before they were all slain. The military was greatly embarrassed by this and said it would not happen again. Now it has, and the loss of credibility is great. While the generals and admirals have apologized for recent failures, none have offered to resign. Thus the apologies are suspect, as, increasingly, is the military leadership.
It gets worse. Pakistani media are increasingly questioning, and even mocking, the capabilities of the military and demanding that the generals and admirals be brought to account for their ineffectiveness. This may turn out to be the most damaging outcome of the bin Laden raid and naval base attack. The military has long prided itself on its public face as the protector of Pakistan and the one large Pakistani institution that was disciplined and efficient. These qualities are now being sharply questioned, and the drumbeat of criticism seems likely to continue for a long time. Sadly, the media is not more critical of Islamic radicalism, but of military effectiveness. This makes support of Islamic terrorism that supports Pakistani goals (of weakening or embarrassing India) more popular. The military has also made it clear that it will resist any attempts by the elected government to take control of the ISI.
China has agreed to undertake development of the underused Pakistani port of Gwadar, which is located near the Iranian border. The Chinese would also build a naval base, that would be used by Pakistani and Chinese warships and aircraft. This is part of an effort to increase military cooperation with China, to replace current reliance on the United States. But China is not willing to supply as much free stuff. Chinese military aid comes with a lot more strings attached. For example, while China recently pledged to speed up delivery of fifty JF-17 jets (an F-16 knock off that Pakistan helped, largely with cash, to develop), it also expects to be paid. The U.S. gives Pakistan F-16s. But to many Pakistanis, this American aid does them little good. It benefits the military, making it more capable of imposing its will on the Pakistani people, while making the generals richer.
In Peshawar, the largest city in the Pakistani tribal territories, a suicide car bomber killed six people when it rammed into a police compound.
In Indian Kashmir, the police continue to block separatist rallies, and hunt down and arrest the leaders of this passive resistance movement. Islamic terrorists are still getting across the border from Pakistan. But these Islamic radicals seem more intent on terrorizing the Kashmiri Moslems into returning to the use of violence against the Indian government. While many Kashmiri Moslems just want the decades of violence to stop, about all they can agree on is that a non-violent approach is more likely to succeed than the use of terrorism. But even here, the Moslems are split. While most would like an independent Kashmir (as Pakistan is seen as a country you do not want to be a part of), that is unlikely to happen. The non-Moslem minority won't stand for it, and neither will India. So Islamic terrorists continue to be hunted down and killed, and demonstrations suppressed.
May 23, 2011: In central India (Chhattisgarh state) a Maoist ambush killed nine policemen. The Indian effort to destroy the Maoists in central and eastern India are slogging along. The large paramilitary police force sent in last year has proved less capable, and the Maoists more resistant, than anticipated.
May 22, 2011: Six Taliban gunmen got onto a major naval base in Karachi, Pakistan, killed ten people and destroyed two American made P-3C maritime reconnaissance aircraft (worth over $100 million each). All the attackers were killed, but it took the military 17 hours to do so. It was early Monday before the sound of gunfire ended. What was most scary about this was that this heavily guarded base was supposed to have a degree of security similar to that provided for the bases where nuclear weapons are stored. While the six Taliban who attacked the naval base were killed, that in itself was scary, as the attackers did not seem concerned about surviving. The attack was later described by the Taliban as an act of revenge for the death of bin Laden. While the navy has three more P-3Cs, the loss of two of them greatly reduced the ability to patrol the long Pakistani coast.
The U.S. announced that it would launch another raid into Pakistan if it were necessary to take out an important terrorist target. Many American politicians are demanding that two billion dollars of annual military aid to Pakistan be cut back, or stopped entirely, in retaliation for seemingly obvious Pakistani support for Islamic terrorists. Meanwhile, American auditors are refusing to pay nearly half of $3.2 billion in bills the Pakistani military has submitted for expenses connected with counter-terror operations. The U.S. had agreed to pay for these operations, but the auditors are pointing out that a lot of the claimed expenses are bogus.
In central India (Chhattisgarh state) a Maoist attempt to shut down economic activity (to assert its power to terrorize), interrupted shipments from India's largest iron ore producer. The Maoists seek extortion payments from large companies, in order to fund their political and terror operations.
May 21, 2011: Wikileaks documents revealed that Pakistani military leaders asked, in 2009, for more American UAV operations in the tribal territories, and more American Special Forces troops to train Pakistan counter-terrorism troops. This is something that no Pakistani politician or military leader would admit to, as it made clear that the Pakistani military was not up to the task of coping with Islamic terror groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban. Recent military announcements that the U.S. has been ordered to withdraw UAVs and Special Forces troops are perceived as false. Many Pakistanis now believe this is all for show, and that the Americans remain. The UAVs are still attacking terrorist targets in the tribal territories.
May 17, 2011: Pakistan announced that it had arrested a senior al Qaeda operative (Muhammad Ali Qasim Yaqub) in Karachi. This was the first such arrest since the May 2nd raid to kill bin Laden.
On the Afghan border, an American helicopter gunship fired on Pakistani troops, who had fired on American troops from the Pakistani side of the border. This is not the first time this has happened. The Indians have suffered from these kinds of attacks for decades. The Pakistani commanders appear incapable, or unwilling, to halt this sort of thing.
In central India (Chhattisgarh state) a Maoist land mine killed seven policemen on patrol.