India-Pakistan: Documenting The Bin Laden Follies


July 19, 2013: The Pakistani government is still feeling the aftereffects from the leaking of the Abbottabad Commission report on the 8th. This report was commissioned by the Pakistani government in June 2011, to get to the truth of how Osama bin Laden could hide out in Pakistan for a decade and the United States could send in commandos in May 2011 to attack the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad (a military town near the capital) and then get away to Afghanistan without any interference from the Pakistan military. The Abbottabad Commission did a thorough job, so thorough that when the final report was delivered in January, it was suppressed and kept from the public. The reason for this was because the report concluded that corruption and incompetence in the government and military were the main reasons bin Laden could hide in plain sight, and also why the Americans could fly in from Afghanistan, kill bin Laden, take large quantities of documents from the bin Laden compound, and get out without any casualties. Since the report was leaked, the Pakistani military has blamed the Pakistani police and domestic intelligence agencies for not noticing the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad and admitted that the military was more concerned with guarding the border with India than the one with Afghanistan. Less surprisingly, the delivery of the Abbottabad Commission report last January seems to explain the announcement, at about the same time, of a change in Pakistani military thinking.

That surprise involved a new military doctrine that declared internal Islamic terrorist groups were the main threat, not India. That caused many Islamic conservatives in Pakistan to call for “true Moslems” in the military to rise up and oppose this disturbing policy change. That did not happen. For over thirty years the Pakistani military leadership has supported Islamic radicalism and many Pakistanis are not willing to let go. Despite this new direction, Pakistan is not abandoning their two decade old terrorism campaign in Indian Kashmir. The Pakistani army still tolerates this kind of terrorism that is supported from Pakistan based terrorists but officially opposes Islamic terrorists who attack Pakistani targets. Allowing more attacks on Indian troops in Kashmir is one way to placate the many pro-terrorism officers and troops in the army. Indian protests about this increased Pakistani based Islamic terrorism attacks in Kashmir have been ignored by the Pakistani military.

The army shift in doctrine last January was not a complete surprise. In 2010, The Pakistani Air Force made it official that its doctrine no longer concentrated on fighting India. Since 2009 the air force has been getting a lot of valuable combat experience using smart bombs in the tribal territories. Pilots have also been using targeting pods in action and generally learning how to deal with rebellious tribesmen using the most current technology. So the air force has made this experience part of the official playbook. Yet the air force continues to concentrate most of its air defenses on the Indian border.

Chinese analysis still see Pakistan as India’s major military threat, despite India officially shifting its effort to confront China in the last few years. Pakistan has attacked India several times in the last half century and lost every time. The Pakistani military is poorly equipped and really only good for fighting Pakistanis. It’s not very good at that either, and India decided the Chinese are more of a threat. This Chinese announcement was apparently an effort to make the Pakistanis feel better, if only because Pakistan is a major customer for Chinese weapons.

The Abbottabad Commission report is part of a trend that has resulted in a basic change in Pakistani attitudes towards their military. Thus, after more than half a century of getting their way, the generals are finding that most Pakistanis no longer believe that India is a threat or that their generals are honorable men dedicated to the welfare of Pakistan. No, the generals are now accused of corruption and exploiting the Pakistani people for personal gain. These problems have been getting worse over the past three decades and now the generals are seen as part of the problem, not part of any solution. It’s not just the active duty generals who are scared but many of the retired ones as well, especially those living like very wealthy men who cannot justify their wealth. While some of the well-off generals come from the elite (and very rich) families, most do not, and embarrassing questions are being asked by journalists, prosecutors, and Pakistanis in general. The generals have lost every war Pakistan has been in but they have been successful at exploiting their own government and getting rich. They are no longer seen as military men but as thieves in uniform.

Recent polls in Pakistan show support for the United States slipped from 92 percent two years ago to 73 percent after the 2011 U.S. raid into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Some 55 percent of Pakistanis (young and old) still believe that interactions between the West and Moslems are a threat to Pakistani security.  Only 39 percent believed such interactions are beneficial. Most conservative Moslems cannot accept that Islam itself is the cause of any of the many problems (economic, social, political) suffered by Moslems. Instead, the blame is placed on non-Moslems who must be attacking Moslems and causing all these problems. This sort of irrational paranoia is popular in most Islamic countries.

Because of the continued popular support for Islamic radicalism, the Pakistani government is again trying to arrange peace talks with the Taliban. Once more the people closest to the Taliban (the army and most of the population in the tribal territories) oppose such negotiations as futile. The Taliban have broken every peace agreement they have ever made and openly state that their goal is Islamic rule in all of Pakistan and nothing less. The decades of government sponsored propaganda supporting the use of Islamic law (sharia) and support for Islamic conservatives has caused this problem, where most Pakistanis, who have no close contact with the Taliban, still see the these Islamic terrorists as reformers, not fanatical killers bent on establishing a harsh religious dictatorship in the country. The Pakistani leaders caused this problem and are finding that solving it can’t be done quickly.

Afghan commanders are running into more and more cases of Pakistanis using fake Afghan military ID in an effort to infiltrate Afghan units. At first it was thought this was a Taliban effort, even though the fake IDs were the high quality typical of ISI (the Pakistani CIA). But further investigation revealed that this was all ISI, an effort to obtain more detailed information about the Afghan security forces. 

India is increasing its training of Afghan Army personnel from about 600 a year to over a thousand. The trainees go to India and attend specialist Indian military schools for several different specialties (battlefield medicine, communications, and intelligence), as well as purely military subjects like infantry tactics as well as command and staff procedures. As needed, the students are also taught English, which is the language of instruction in many of these schools. India wants more of this training to take place in Afghanistan and is also asking for India to donate weapons (like 105mm light artillery).

The Pakistani Taliban recently revealed that they had sent twelve leaders and technical specialists to Syria two months ago, to establish a base for hundreds of volunteers coming from Pakistani terrorist training camps to Syria to fight for the rebels. Most of these volunteers are Pakistani, but some are foreigners who came to Pakistan to join the Taliban and fight to protect Islam. The Pakistan Taliban mostly operates inside Pakistan, but they have sent men to fight in Afghanistan, Indian Kashmir, Bosnia, and Central Asia. Syria is a major foreign effort by the Pakistani Taliban.

In the Pakistani tribal territories the Pakistani Taliban continues to make a major effort to shut down schools for girls and enforce their policies on the subjugation of women (no working outside the home or living independently). Even in the tribal territories these policies are unpopular. Most tribal people understand that the way out of their poverty is via more education for women and allowing women to work outside the home. These anti-woman polices makes the Taliban a lot of enemies in the tribal territories and Pakistan in general. More “moderate” Taliban realize this but have not been able to persuade the hard core Taliban that run the organization to loosen up on the subject, even temporarily.

India and China continue their talks over disputed borders. This is all about Chinese claims on Indian territory and the Indians believe the Chinese are not being sincere in their negotiations. China has increasingly been sending troops into the Indian areas they claim and even do so after promising to stop. India believes this is part of an aggressive Chinese strategy to wear down India and gain a peaceful surrender of the border areas China seeks.

Pakistan is facing more international criticism because of the growing violence against religious minorities (Shia Moslems, Christians, Ahmadis, Sikhs, and Hindus). In the last 18 months there have been over 200 attacks against these minorities, leaving 700 dead and over a thousand wounded. Most of the attacks are against the Shia, who are a fifth of the population and the largest religious minority in Pakistan. Sunni Islamic terrorists consider all non-Sunni to be targets, unless these infidels (or heretics, in the case of the Shia) agree to convert. The Pakistani government has been going through the motions of fighting this violence for decades. This does not work because the government officially backs the Sunni Moslem dominance of the government and society. While these religion based attacks are technically condemned, in practice the government tends to look the other way. This is actually a common policy throughout the Islamic world.

In Kashmir the main highway connecting the area with the rest of India remains closed for a second day because of growing violence by local separatists.

July 18, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Bajaur) Taliban gunmen ambushed a military vehicle and killed two soldiers.

July 17, 2013: In eastern India (Bihar) Maoists attacked a construction camp and killed five security personnel and a civilian.

July 16, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Quetta, Baluchistan) three Sunni men, including a cleric, were shot dead, apparently in revenge for the recent murder of four Shia men.

July 15, 2013: In Bangladesh a court sentenced 91 year old cleric Ghulam Azam to life in prison, for atrocities committed 42 years ago when he supported mass murder against Bangladeshis who rebelled against the Pakistani government. Azam is the third such elderly leader to be convicted and punished for crimes committed in 197,1 and the government expects more violence from Islamic radicals as a result. Four months ago Islamic radical violence against Hindus (about ten percent of the 143 million Bangladeshis) left 47 temples and 700 homes burned. This was in response to a local court sentencing a senior Islamic conservative politician and religious leader (Delawar Hossain Sayedee) to death, after he was convicted of committing war crimes during the 1971 civil war with West Pakistan (back when Bangladesh was East Pakistan). Sayedees followers promptly went on a violent rampage in an effort to coerce the government into letting Sayedee live. The violence has killed over a hundred people so far and the government has refused to back down. Hindus were targeted because Islamic radicals are particularly hostile to non-Moslems. What was ironic about this was that many of the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh were against local Hindus, as Pakistan always blamed the rebellion in East Pakistan on India. That was not true, as most Bangladeshis (Moslem and Hindu) had a long list of complaints against their “brothers” in West Pakistan. Families of the many victims of the 1971 violence have long demanded that the surviving culprits be brought to justice. Many current Islamic religious leaders in Bangladesh were young Islamic militants in 1971, and supported West Pakistani efforts to suppress separatist activity in East Pakistan. What is now Pakistan (then West Pakistan) was always more into Islamic radicalism than Bangladesh, where the local Islamic radicals are still considered a threat. That's one reason why there is a lot less Islamic terrorism in Bangladesh than in Pakistan. Another reason is that the Islamic clergy of Bangladesh never became as radicalized as their counterparts in Pakistan. Part of this was due to history and culture, partly to closer ties between Pakistan and the oil-rich Arab states in Arabia. A lot of that oil money went into funding conservative Islamic missionaries, and a lot more of those missionaries went to Pakistan than to the less hospitable Bangladesh. While not all Pakistanis agree with their conservative, and often radical, Islamic clergy, there is tremendous social pressure to keep quiet about such disagreements.

July 14, 2013: Pakistan announced that the first 24 female army officers had successfully completed airborne training (“jump school”) and become qualified military parachutists. The three week course is pretty standard worldwide, having first been developed in the 1930s. In the West, women began attending jump school on a large scale during World War II, mainly for espionage missions but also for regular military service. Islamic countries have been reluctant to allow women to undertake military service in general, especially the more rigorous activities like parachuting.

In Pakistan (near the Khyber Pass) air force warplanes bombed nine Taliban camps, killing at least 11 terrorists.

July 13, 2013: In Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV attack killed two Arab Islamic terrorists as they rode motorcycles through the countryside.

July 11, 2013: In Pakistan (near the Khyber Pass) two civilians were killed by a remotely controlled bomb.

July 10, 2013: In Pakistan (Karachi) a roadside bomb killed a prominent politician and two others.

July 9, 2013: In Indian Kashmir troops detected nine Islamic terrorists trying to sneak across the border and killed five of them. The day before, Islamic terrorists already in Kashmir had killed a civilian (transporting supplies to a rural army outpost) with a roadside bomb.

July 8, 2013: The Pakistani Abbottabad Commission report was leaked (via al Jazeera).

In Pakistan (Hangu, near the Afghan border) a suicide bomber attacked pro-government tribesmen and killed eight of them. 




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close