January 31, 2013:
India is increasing its military capabilities to deal with growing Chinese aggression and presence in the Indian Ocean. But India continues to lose ground to China in economic strength. It’s the larger economy that enables China to maintain its military superiority over India. One of the major reasons for the stronger Chinese economy is a better educated population and more than five times as many Internet users. That's partly because China has three times the GDP of India and a lot more people who can afford Internet access, but there is also less corruption in the Chinese education system. China is also an easier place to start a new business and operate that enterprise profitably. China has superior infrastructure (roads, railroads, electrical power) and more efficient (although still corrupt) bureaucrats.
India’s four year campaign against Maoist rebels in rural eastern India is having some success. Last year Maoist related deaths were down 39 percent and more areas were declared (usually accurately) free of armed Maoists. But India still has a big problem with corruption in areas where the Maoists thrive, or at least survive. The Maoist fight corrupt officials and businessmen and that is very popular with most Indians. Nevertheless, the corruption persists.
The Pakistani supreme court is pressing the army leadership to halt its practice of arresting terrorism suspects and holding them (often for years) without charging them. Over 700 are believed to be held now. The army responds that the Pakistani judicial system doesn’t work and that Islamic terrorists tried by the courts routinely escape justice, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. The Indian courts are not much better as they are also slow, inefficient, and often corrupt. India has established a special “fast track” court for cases that are getting a lot of media attention. Without prompt trials such cases would lead to more embarrassing publicity for the dysfunctional Indian courts. In Pakistan it is worse.
Pakistan still has several thousand foreign Islamic terrorists, most of them in the tribal territories. Over half of the Arab Islamic terrorists have left in the last decade but have been replaced by more from Central Asia, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Most of these Islamic terrorists use Pakistan as a sanctuary. That is, they carry out no attacks in Pakistan and often cooperate with Pakistani intelligence (ISI, long a supporter and ally of Islamic terrorists).
In the Pakistani Khyber Agency (the area near the Khyber Pass, the main land route into Afghanistan) the Pakistani Taliban has moved in and tried to force two other Islamic radical groups (Tehrik I Taliban and Ansarul Islam) to share the extortion fees and stolen cargo obtained from all the truck traffic going into and out of Afghanistan. The fighting, which involved soldiers fighting all the Islamic groups, in the last two weeks has caused several hundred casualties, including at least 70 dead. This is mostly about money, which is always in short supply in the tribal territories. The Taliban also want to establish bases around the Khyber Pass, and the government is determined to prevent this. Tribesmen have been fighting soldiers in this area for centuries.
The Pakistani media and government are both refusing to admit that Pakistani troops were the aggressors during recent attacks on Indian border guards. The Pakistani position is that the Indians are the aggressors. But there is a growing mountain of evidence that documents Pakistan as being the bad guys. This view is not popular in Pakistan, so politicians and media pretend that the aggressors are really victims.
The U.S. and Afghanistan are putting more pressure on Pakistan to halt the smuggling of ammonium nitrate from two Pakistani plants into Afghanistan. There, about 80 percent of the terrorist bombs use ammonium nitrate for their explosives. What is particularly annoying is that less than ten percent of the fertilizer used in Pakistan is ammonium nitrate and that it is corruption in Pakistan that allows all this ammonium nitrate to be produced and then smuggled into Afghanistan. The U.S. wants this ammonium nitrate production to cease and is threatening to withhold military aid to Pakistan if something is not done.
January 28, 2013: General Shahid Aziz (head of the army from October 2001 – December 2003) continues to reveal details of the 1999 war with India (the “Kargil War”). He confirmed that the then head of the army Pervez Musharraf and three other senior officers had planned and supervised that brief war against India. Until recently Pakistan insisted that its troops were not involved. Three years ago the Pakistani Army officially admitted its role in the undeclared 1999 war with India on the high mountain frontier in Kashmir. Pakistan has always insisted that India was just fighting Islamic terrorists (who were just trying to liberate Kashmir from Indian rule). But in November 2010, the names of 453 soldiers killed in "the Kargil war" were posted on the army website. Although the Pakistani troops, masquerading as Islamic terrorists, were forced to retreat during the 1999 conflict, Pakistan still considered it a victory (because it garnered much publicity for their terrorism campaign in Kashmir). India lost about 550 troops in the fighting. The elected Pakistani government of the time was opposed to the Kargil operation and tried to remove the head of the armed forces (Pervez Musharraf). In response, Musharraf staged a coup and ruled the country for the next nine years.
The Pakistani denials about their support for Islamic terrorism in Indian Kashmir have long prevented serious peace negotiations between the two countries. Increasingly, more Pakistanis are opposed to this deception which deceives no one. Senior officials in the military are publicly coming clean about army support for the Kashmir terrorism. Peace negotiations in the past eight years have addressed the need for less Pakistani support of Islamic terrorists who cross the border and carry out attacks in Indian Kashmir (and elsewhere in India). Pakistan has reduced Islamic terrorist activity on their side of the Kashmir border but not eliminated these terrorists completely. Gaining control over Indian Kashmir (because of its mostly Moslem population) has been a big issue in Pakistani politics since India and Pakistan became independent (of British colonial rule) in 1947. Pakistan has lost several wars trying to seize Kashmir and began the Islamic terrorism campaign in the 1990s because it seemed like a good idea at the time. But the army has created a monster that is killing thousands of Pakistanis a year and threatening the ability of Pakistan to function as a country. General Aziz is calling for more civilian control of the military, something there has never been very much of in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan reopened their border, which had been closed for two weeks after Pakistani troops attacked their counterparts guarding the border.
January 27, 2013: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) hundreds of tribesmen blocked a rail line coming out of the provincial capital (Quetta). The protest was all about the government inability to do anything about the increasing crime in the area.
January 26, 2013: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) several dozen armed men raided a village and killed a pro-government militiaman and kidnapped five others.
January 24, 2013: Egyptian health officials ordered polio vaccinations for over 100,000 children when polio virus (tracked back to Pakistan) was found in a Cairo neighborhood. Polio has been eradicated in Egypt but it still exists in Pakistan because of the Islamic radical attacks on polio vaccination efforts. The UN provides cash and specialists for these vaccination programs but the UN recently warned Pakistan that unless there were security guarantees for its medical personnel, the polio vaccination program in dangerous areas would not be resumed. Thousands of Pakistani children have not been vaccinated because Islamic militants have been attacking the medical personnel this year, killing at least a dozen of them. Usually the attacks are in the tribal territories, but some of the latest killings were outside the territories. In several countries (especially Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) Islamic radicals believe polio vaccinations are part of a secret Western plan to harm Moslem children. Polio can only survive in a human host and infected Pakistanis sometimes travel to other countries and spread the disease.
January 23, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) five mortar shells were fired at the headquarters of the Frontier Corps (a locally recruited security force in the tribal territories). There were no casualties. Attacks like this are meant to intimidate the Frontier Corps and force them to refrain from interfering with Islamic terrorists and warlord militias.
January 21, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories two soldiers were killed when their vehicle triggered a roadside bomb.
January 20, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Peshawar) police arrested four Islamic terrorists outside the city.