India-Pakistan: ISIL Comes To Stay

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September 18, 2014:   In Pakistan the three month long offensive in North Waziristan has done more than just cause a lot of damage to Islamic terrorist groups there. So far the operations have left (nearly a thousand killed, hundreds captured, several thousand driven from the area and dozens of bases and stockpiles captured and destroyed). This offensive has also caused the Pakistani Taliban to fall apart. In the last month the Pakistani Taliban has split into factions and one new faction (the Punjabi one) has declared it is laying down its arms and will from now on work peacefully for its goal of religious rule in Pakistan. Meanwhile the Taliban that are still fighting have lost about half their strength as a new faction, composed of Mehsud and Wazir tribesmen (the largest tribes in North Waziristan) renounced allegiance to Pakistani Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah and formed a new group called Jamaatul Ahrar. One reason for this is the fact that Fazlullah is based across the border in Afghanistan (Kunar province) and calls for continued terror attacks inside Pakistan.  Jamaatul Ahrar pledged allegiance to the Afghan Taliban, who continue to be protected by the Pakistani military. This is a major win for the army because this new group is, in effect, pledging to no longer support terrorist violence inside Pakistan. The army tends to go easy on Islamic terrorists who confine their mayhem to India, Afghanistan and other foreign targets.

The military believes the North Waziristan offensive is just about over and that Taliban capabilities, for the moment, are much reduced. The new goal is to get most of the 800,000 civilians who fled the fighting back into their homes before the cold weather arrives. Some of the most remote and rugged areas (about 20 percent of North Waziristan) still have to be cleared, but were never a lot of civilians in these places.

Meanwhile pamphlets backing ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) have been appearing in northwestern Pakistan. They appeal to local tribesmen to join ISIL, either in Syria or in Pakistan and fight. This is the only known ISIL activity in Pakistan so far, aside from hundreds of local Islamic terrorists going to join ISIL in Syria over the last year. Most other Islamic terrorist organizations are hostile to ISIL, which is seen as greedy and too extreme for most Islamic extremists. Given the large number of Islamic terrorist already in Pakistan, that would make it difficult get established in Pakistan.   

In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) the army is building new border defenses, mostly in the form of a 480 kilometer long trench that is two meters (6.1 feet) deep and three meters (9.3 feet) wide. Afghanistan protests this effort, mainly because disputes about exactly where the border is. Pakistan wants to exercise more control over the smuggling of weapons, Islamic terrorists and goods and this trench will at least slow down smugglers or make them easier to detect and catch.

In Pakistan there remains a threat of another military takeover, but a recent opinion poll found that only 19 percent of the population backed that and 67 percent preferred an elected government. The coup threat has been a popular issue in Pakistan lately because of over a month of street demonstrations in the capital aimed at overthrowing the government. This effort has been orchestrated by opposition politician Imran Khan and Islamic cleric/politician Tahir ul Qadri. On August 14th these two began a massive march on the capital (Islamabad) with the intention of blockading parliament and other government offices to force the current government to resign. Khan is a nationalist and populist and Qadri is reformer and anti-corruption advocate who proposes an appointed government of honest politicians followed by elections that are not rigged. Kahn/Qadri accuse the government of corruption (a normal state in Pakistan) and rigging the last election (also quite normal). While the Kahn/Qadri solution is radical and, to an outsider, seemingly improbable, it is very popular to many, if not most, Pakistanis.

Despite the presence of several hundred thousand supporters in the capital the government stood firm and the army refused to intervene. For a while many Pakistanis saw this as another of those situations where the military would take control “for the good of the country” because democracy was deadlocked by the dispute between Kahn/Qadri and the elected officials. Most members of the current government (parliament and the key ministers) oppose Kahn/Qadri but with over half a million angry anti-corruption (and anti-current government) demonstrators in the capital just calling out more police to chase them away was not an option. So the situation has become a siege and the government appears to have had more staying power. In the last few days Imran Khan has been charged with criminal acts (using intimidation to get some of his arrested party officials released) but has not been arrested, yet. The Kahn/Qadri “army” is losing its resolve and starting to melt away. Kahn/Qadri have the support of many judges, who refuse to allow arrests for violations of laws banning such disruptive behavior. But the general public has lost patience with the disruptions to travel and commerce the demonstrations have had. This isn’t over, especially the growing anger over the corruption.

The Indian Air Force is pressuring Russia to be more forthcoming with details of what is going on with the development of the new Russian “5th generation” T-50 (or PAK-FA). This is the Russian answer to the U.S. F-22 and according to the Indians, who have contributed $6 billion to development of the T-50, the Russian aircraft is in big trouble. The latest complaint has to do with the Russian response to earlier complaints. The Russians are now refusing to provide development updates of the frequency and detail the Indians had been accustomed to. The Indians know from experience that when the Russians clam up about a military project it is usually because the news is bad and the Russians would rather not share. All this began in late 2013 when Indian pilots and aviation experts who had examined Russian progress noted that the T-50 as it was then put together was unreliable. The Russian radar, which promised so much has delivered, according to the Indians, insufficient performance. The Indians also noted that the T-50s stealth features were unsatisfactory. Instead of answers to these criticisms are the Indians are getting in 2014 are excuses and promises.

The Chinese leader is visiting India and there is talk of China offering to invest $100 billion India over the next five years. This would be remarkable, as Chinese have invested only about $400 million in the last ten years. This proposal, real or not, is seen by many Indians as another form of Chinese aggression. India would have a difficult time opposing Chinese efforts to seize Indian territory on the border if the Chinese were in the midst of pouring billions of much needed investment into India. Meanwhile India announced that it was accelerating the effort to ready its new anti-missile system for service. Eight more tests of the system are scheduled and the current plan is for the system to be operational by 2016. This would provide some protection against Chinese ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. China has no similar system anywhere close to deployment.

September 17, 2014: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) police, in two separate incidents, arrested four armed Maoist rebels. Elsewhere in the east (Andhra Pradesh) a gun battle with Maoists left one of the rebels dead. In the northwest (Kashmir) two Islamic terrorists were killed near the Pakistani border. Three firearms were recovered.

In Pakistan (Kashmir) a clash in the city left seven armed members of the Taliban dead. The result raid was the result of a tip.

September 16, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) the air force hit five Islamic terrorist bases with smart bombs. There was some secondary explosions indicating ammunition stockpiles were hit. An estimated 40 died on the ground. Troops are sent to the scene of these bombings and conduct an investigation to get a better idea of who and what was there and the extent of enemy losses. The army uses artillery and mortars to attack Taliban bases if they are close enough. The air force aircraft and helicopters are constantly searching for Taliban facilities and there are plenty of them in North Waziristan. However many of them are hidden from air detection to lessen the risk of American UAV missile attack.

September 15, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) the air force hit several Islamic terrorist targets killing at least twenty people. Nearby Islamic terrorists from Afghanistan attacked a border post, killing four soldiers. This incursion was repulsed, leaving at least 11 of the attackers dead and driving the rest back into Afghanistan.

September 14, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) a border post was attacked with RPG rockets and one landed inside the fortified position and killed three soldiers. In the southwest (Quetta) a roadside bomb left three dead and 24 wounded.

September 13, 2014: In Kashmir Indian troops killed three Islamic terrorists in a rural area. Elsewhere in Kashmir soldiers discovered an unfinished tunnel under the border, meant to make it less risky for Islamic terrorists to move from their Pakistani training camps and into India.

September 12, 2014: In Pakistan police announced the arrest of ten men involved in the attack on Malala Yousufzai in 2012. The 15 year old victim then fled to Britain, along with her family, to receive better care and protection from Taliban threats to hunt her down and finish the job. The Pakistani Taliban insist they have the right to kill women who criticize Islamic radical ideas. The pressure to hunt down and punish the Taliban who organized the assassination attempt on the girl continued and now the government says they have identified and arrested all the Taliban involved in planning and carrying out that attack. All ten were from the same area (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) where Malala Yousufzai lived with her family. Some of those arrested admitted that the attack was ordered by Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah.

September 11, 2014: Chinese troops have built a two kilometer long road into Indian territory near Ladakh (northwest India). India responded by sending soldiers to destroy this road. China has sent in troops and civilians to “protest” Indian activities on the Indian side of the border when anything happens on terrain China claims. There has been no shooting so far, but often the two sides confront each other with armed men. India has not protested to China about these latest “incursions,” apparently so as not to interfere with the forthcoming arrival of the Chinese leader on an official visit.

China announced plans to invest $50 million in Pakistani economic projects over the next three years. Much of this will be spent on new roads and railroads that make it easier to move people and goods between the two countries.

September 10, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) the air force hit five Islamic terrorist bases with smart bombs and killed at least 65 Islamic terrorists. The army reported they had cleared Islamic terrorists out of the two major towns in North Waziristan (Miranshah and Mir Ali) as well as the main road (90 kilometers long) through the area.

September 8, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) air force helicopter gunships hit another Taliban base, causing explosives and ammo stored there to explode and killing at least ten Islamic terrorists.

In eastern India (Jharkhand) Maoists used explosives to damage a rail line and derail a freight train. This shut down a busy rail line for several days.

September 6, 2014: In Pakistan (Karachi) ten members of the new AQIS (Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) attacked a naval base and were repulsed after a six hour gun battle. Three attackers were killed and seven arrested. One of the defenders was killed. The attackers came via small boats and were believed to have bribed some of the naval security personnel to assist them in getting on board the Pakistani frigate. The gun battle on the ship did minimal damage (mostly bullet holes). Interrogation of those arrested led to raids that seized weapons, ammo and explosives as well as documents. It also revealed that the attackers thought they were going after an American warship tied up at dockside in the base. But that was a Pakistani frigate and there were no American warships in the base. ISIL responded by mocking al Qaeda for being inept and getting ten Moslems killed or captured because of a stupid mistake. The U.S. believes the Pakistani ISI (military intelligence/CIA) is still protecting al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and is behind the latest al Qaeda announcement that they are forming a branch inside India. The U.S. believes this is being done at the request of the ISI and will be staffed with Pakistani Islamic terrorists controlled (or at least trained) by the ISI.

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) 17 members of a paramilitary police battalion were suspended after an investigation into a Maoist ambush last March that left 16 police dead. The investigators concluded that the losses would have been a lot less of the 17 suspended men had reacted. Instead the 17 did nothing.

September 3, 2014: Al Qaeda announced the formation of AQIS. The organization is to cover operations in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as India. Islamic terrorism experts believe this is a publicity stunt by al Qaeda to counter the growing popularity of the more radical ISIL. Indian Moslems have produced some recruits for Islamic terrorism, but not enough to produce the level of mayhem Islamic terrorists want. Lacking a lot of radical clergy and religious schools India has simply not produced a lot of radicalized young men willing to kill and be killed.

September 2, 2014: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) a police encounter with Maoist rebels led to a gun battle and the death of a local Maoist leader. The rest of his men fled.

 

 

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