India-Pakistan: Where Criticism Is Blasphemy

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December 7, 2014: The U.S. has agreed to extend financial aid to Pakistan for another year. The aid will be up to a billion dollars. Pakistan expects the Americans to eventually sharply cut aid, especially since the U.S. has become very public in its accusations that Pakistan is supporting Islamic terrorists who make attacks in Afghanistan, India and elsewhere. Pakistan has always denied this, despite a growing mass of evidence that Pakistan has been sponsoring Islamic terrorists since the 1970s. Pakistan points out that its six months of fighting Islamic terrorists in North Waziristan is proof that it does not support Islamic terrorism. That ignores the remaining terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistani controlled northern Kashmir and the southwest (Quetta in Baluchistan). The U.S. believes that certain “friendly” (to Pakistan) Islamic terrorist groups are allowed to operate throughout Pakistan. Since 2001 Pakistan has received $28.4 billion in U.S. aid but is preparing to receive a lot less of it.

Many Islamic terrorists, including leaders, have fled North Waziristan for neighboring Afghanistan in the last six months. These terrorists believed they would be safer there, but the Americans, despite having withdrawn most of their troops, still have special operations and intelligence forces as well as dozens of missile-armed UAVs available in Afghanistan. Thus in the last two weeks there have been several UAV attacks against Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in remote parts of eastern Afghanistan. This has caused over a dozen deaths, and some of the victims were senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. Another problem these displaced Pakistani Islamic terrorists have had is growing armed resistance by local Afghan tribesmen. The Pakistani Taliban have always tried to get along with their fellow Pushtun tribesmen just across the border but over the years the constant violence (including the American bomb and missile attacks and thousands of rockets and mortar shells fired from Pakistan by the army and police into these border areas) has turned the tribes against the Pakistani Islamic terrorists and that is reflected in increased sniping, ambushes and armed confrontations on roads. The tribes are also supplying the Americans and Afghan security forces with more information, which often leads to precise UAV missile attacks or helicopter raids by commandos on Pakistani Taliban hideouts. This is causing heavy losses among key people in the Pakistani Taliban and other Islamic terrorists in the area. This has led to discussions about moving to a safer area. The options are not good. Going back to Pakistan is dangerous and given the feuding between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, moving to other parts of Afghanistan is not a good idea.  Meanwhile the Islamic terrorists in eastern Afghanistan are getting hammered.

Meanwhile Pakistan revealed that it had arrested several local ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) activists. Several existing Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan have declared their allegiance to ISIL and the recent arrests were of ISIL recruiters working in major cities. All this is a major win for the Pakistani army because the new pro-ISIL factions are hostile to all the other Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan and that means there will be more violence between the Islamic terrorists. This will result in less terrorist violence against civilians and security forces inside Pakistan, unless ISIL is able to establish cells in major cities. Meanwhile the military still has a number of “loyal” Islamic terrorist groups that do not attack inside Pakistan. The army tends to go easy on Islamic terrorists who confine their mayhem to India, Afghanistan and other foreign targets but fears the fanaticism of ISIL.

In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) six months of fighting against Islamic terrorists, especially the Pakistani Taliban, has come to the point where major operations have largely been replaced by air attacks on terrorist hideouts and clashes on the ground when patrols encounter small groups of terrorists. The army admits that about ten percent of the area has not yet come under government control. This is territory in very remote and rugged terrain that is difficult to get ground troops into. Despite the difficult terrain, the troops continue to move into hostile territory. Meanwhile more than 1,400 Islamic terrorists have been killed and hundreds more arrested so far. Even with the coming of cold weather the Islamic terrorists are still suffering over a hundred casualties a week. The army has managed keep their own casualties down. In six months the army has lost less than 50 dead and nearly 200 wounded. Civilian casualties have kept low because most civilians fled to stay with kin or in government refugee camps until the campaign is over.  The military effort is now devoted to finding and destroying Islamic terrorist hideouts where the enemy seeks to wait for warmer weather and prepare for another eight month “fighting season”. Meanwhile Pakistan has to cope with nearly 700,000 people who fled North Waziristan to avoid the fighting. Some 200,000 of these went to Afghanistan and ISI is believed to have used these refugees to help hide the families of senior terrorist leaders (like Haqqani) who are considered “friendly” to the army. The army wants to return most of the refugees to their homes next year, but wants to make sure the area is clear of Islamic terrorists first. Thus the continuation of the fighting through the cold weather months.

Pakistanis, but not Afghans, are upset at recent American accusations of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorists. This has never been a secret and has been going on since the 1970s. The Americans stand by their recent pronouncements on the subject. Indian officials go further and accuse the Pakistani military of creating Islamic terrorist groups to attack India and create tension between the two countries in order to maintain the disproportionate amount of the national wealth the Pakistani military receives. Many Pakistanis are beginning to believe this and that has the Pakistani generals more worried than terrorist violence.

Despite the fact that India is Russia’s’ largest export customer for weapons India is becoming disillusioned with Russia as a source of weapons. Late deliveries, quality problems and inadequate support are all complaints that India finds Russia has no solutions for. So Russia apparently feels free to sell to India’s archenemy Pakistan. After all, Russia has long been the major weapons supplier to the other Indian archenemy; China.

In Kashmir India displayed evidence that Islamic terrorists killed while attacking an army camp on the 5th had come from Pakistan. The dead men carried supplies clearly marked “Made in Pakistan” and had identity cards and other documents showing their origin. Many of these Islamic terrorists, when captured, tell the same story of undergoing months of identical training in camps just across the border in Pakistan. The one Islamic terrorist captured in the 2011 Mumbai attack told the same story. Pakistan always denies any involvement in supporting Islamic terrorists.  Pakistan insists it is the victim of Islamic terrorism, which is widely believed (on the street and in the media) to be created by the West (especially the United States). Pakistan recently calculated that this terrorism has cost Pakistan over $80 billion in the last decade and left over 50,000 Pakistanis dead. This is all part of a web of conspiracy beliefs that makes Pakistan the victim of aggression by India, the West and anyone else Pakistan is not getting along with. Meanwhile an international survey ranked Pakistan third (behind Iraq and Afghanistan) in terrorist deaths (2,345) in 2013. Thus Pakistan accounted for 13 percent of all terrorism related deaths that year.

The U.S. has agreed to sell Pakistan eight Global Response Cutters. These are 43 meter (143 foot), 215 ton coastal patrol ships (which the U.S. Coast Guard calls “cutters”). Top speed is 58 kilometers an hour but cruising at 18 kilometers an hour they can stay at sea for about two weeks at a time. Crew size can vary from 18-24. Weapons consist of a remote controlled 25mm or 30mm autocannon up front and four 12.7mm and four 7.62mm machine-guns that care brought out and mounted as needed. The crew also can use assault rifles and pistols. In the rear there is an eight meter rigid boat for boarding parties. Pakistan will pay $44 million per ship.

In India the voluntary surrenders of Maoist rebels are up sharply (66 percent) since 2013 but in most parts of eastern India the Maoist violence is continuing at the same level as last year. India has been fighting leftist (Maoist) rebels since the 1970s. The government has been winning battles but losing the war because of the corruption within the government and the impact this bad behavior has on government services. Because of the persistent corruption the Maoists still get the attention, and sometimes support, of many rural Indians.

December 6, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (South Waziristan) an army raid, using over a thousand troops and helicopter support, found and killed a much wanted al Qaeda leader (Adnan el Shukrijumah) along with his local guide who had recently gotten Shukrijumah out of North Waziristan. Five other al Qaeda members were captured. Shukrijumah was an English speaking Saudi Arabian who lived in the United States for fifteen years. The U.S. was offering a $5 million reward for this guy, dead or alive. One soldier was killed and one wounded in the operation.

December 5, 2014: In Kashmir Islamic terrorists carried out four attacks (leaving 21 dead, including two civilians and 11 soldiers and police) in an unsuccessful effort to disrupt elections. The Pakistan based Islamic terrorists believe that democracy in Indian controlled Kashmir is un-Islamic. Many weapons and other items made in Pakistan were found on the dead terrorists.

In eastern India (Bihar) police, acting on a tip, found a Maoist stash of ten bombs and other equipment. All the bombs were disabled.

December 4, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) air force warplanes attacked terrorist targets for the second day in a row. It is believed that at least 33 people on the ground were killed in 48 hours.

December 2, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) air force warplanes attacked terrorist targets and at least 24 people on the ground were killed. This was in response to a checkpoint attack yesterday in nearby Khyber (where many Islamic terrorists long based in North Waziristan have fled).

On the Kashmir border with Pakistan Indian troops spotted a group of heavily armed Islamic terrorists crossing from Pakistan. Over the next two days the intruders were tracked and trapped. All six of the intruders were killed, along with one Indian soldier (plus four soldiers wounded.)

December 1, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) about fifty Islamic terrorists attacked a checkpoint. The attack was repulsed and at least seven attackers were killed.

Near the Kashmir border with Pakistan an Indian soldier was wounded when Islamic terrorists made two attacks on vehicles with roadside bombs.

In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) the security forces revealed details of more than a dozen successful operations in November that led to dozens of arrests and the capture of many weapons and lots of bomb making supplies. All this is seen as the reason why Baluchistan has been so (relatively) quiet lately.

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) Maoists ambushed paramilitary police and killed 14 policemen. The Maoists used local civilians as human shields to avoid getting much return fire. The Maoists did suffer casualties, but managed to carry off their dead and wounded. Police later discovered that the Maoists had terrorized (using threats, kidnapping and torture) the locals to ensure that they did not tip off the police (as the locals usually do in this area) about what the Maoists are up to. If the locals had told the police what the Maoists were up to the police casualties would have been much less.

November 29, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) air strikes have killed seven Islamic terrorists and wounded twelve others.

Pakistan and Russia signed economic agreements in which Russian banks provide a billion dollars in loans to Pakistan while both countries will cooperate in oil and natural gas exploration and production in Pakistan as well as plans to build pipelines north to Russia via Central Asia.

November 28, 2014: In the Pakistani capital (Islamabad) a senior Shia cleric was shot dead. The Taliban or Haqqani Network are believed responsible because the dead cleric had openly accused the army and ISI of secretly relocating (to other parts of Pakistan or to eastern Afghanistan)the families of Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders before the offensive began in North Waziristan last June. The cleric was prominent in the tribal northwest (Kurram) and frequently accusing the army of not protecting Shia from Sunni Islamic terrorist attack, including Islamic terrorists the army and ISI supported.

In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) the government launched another polio vaccination campaign to protect 38,000 children from the crippling disease. The Pakistani offensive in North Waziristan has been a big help for the polio vaccination effort, which has long been impossible in most of North Waziristan because the Islamic terrorists there threatened to kill (and sometimes did) the vaccination personnel. Thus there have been no vaccinations there since 2012. This has led to a large number of polio cases (over 260 so far this year), mostly in the tribal areas. Among the refugees from the North Waziristan fighting are over 200,000 children who have never been vaccinated. Some 70 percent of recent polio cases in Pakistan occurred in North Waziristan. Now the vaccination teams are able to vaccinate most of the North Waziristan children in safety in the refugee camps and in relative safety in Waziristan. This won’t reduce the high number of polio cases this year but will make a big difference next year. The Taliban, and many other Islamic terrorist groups believe polio vaccinations are a Western plot to poison Moslem children.

November 27, 2014: In Indian Kashmir several clashes with Islamic terrorists left two soldiers, four civilians and four terrorists dead.

November 26, 2014: In southwest Pakistan (Quetta) Islamic terrorists killed four polio vaccination workers. Since 2012 65 polio vaccination workers in Pakistan have been killed by Islamic terrorists.

In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) American UAVs used missiles to kill eight Islamic terrorists. The U.S. has launched twenty UAV missile attacks in Pakistan this year, all of them since the Pakistani offensive into North Waziristan in June and all of these missile attacks were related to that offensive. Apparently all these attacks have the tacit approval of the Pakistani military although there have been a few public complaints when some of the attacks killed Islamic terrorists known to be supported by the Pakistani army and ISI.

In eastern India (Bihar) police captured a weapons building workshop along with many completed one-shot weapons and materials for building these crude firearms, which are mainly useful for terrorizing and controlling hostile civilians. 

November 25, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) air force warplanes attacked terrorist targets and at least 20 people on the ground were killed.

In southeast Pakistan (Karachi) a roadside bomb was used to attack a truck carrying police commandos but instead killed a civilian and wounded four others. Islamic terrorists in Karachi (Pakistan’s largest city) are a growing problem and put many civilian bystanders at risk with their attacks.

In Pakistan the head of a major media organization (Geo) was sentenced to 26 years in prison. He had been convicted of blasphemy for allowing the broadcast of a video the court considered anti-Islamic. Most Pakistanis see this as another example of the army and ISI using their control of some courts to use the blasphemy laws as a form of censorship against those who criticize the army or ISI. Pakistan still has severe blasphemy laws that are mostly used by Moslems against innocent Christians or other non-Moslems. Efforts to repeal these laws, or at least limit their misuse, are violently resisted by Islamic political parties. The Pakistani blasphemy laws are usually only used by Moslems against non-Moslems and when they are used against Moslems it is usually for revenge or political reasons. The laws are unpopular with the majority of Pakistanis. But the minority who do support the laws, are willing to use lethal force to keep the laws on the books. These blasphemy laws were enacted in the 1970s at the behest of the military. The opposition to repealing these laws is violent and fearless. In 2011 the Punjab province governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by one of his own bodyguards because Taseer had openly opposed the blasphemy laws. While no one had ever been executed because of these laws, many are accused and jailed each year, and often condemned to death (and later reprieved). But over 30 of those accused have been murdered by Islamic fanatics, who are a large, and violent, minority of the population.

The ISI has been after Geo since last June and from the start used trumped up charges that the station was guilty of blasphemy. This resulted in the normally anti-ISI civilian government ordering Geo shut down for 15 days in June for “slandering” the ISI. The station also had to pay a $102,000 fine. The ISI also mobilized Islamic conservative groups to attack Geo and its employees. The military was angry with the Geo TV news channel mainly for accusing the military of being behind an April 19th attack against a prominent Geo TV journalist (Hamid Mir) who frequently criticized the ISI and the army during his Geo show. Mir survived the attack and the army denied it had anything to do with it. Similar attacks have been traced back to the army and ISI in the past. In Pakistan it’s understood that openly criticizing the ISI or army can have unhealthy consequences. The army first tried using jammers to block Geo from being received on military bases and also banned newspapers that were also making these accusations. The military then mobilized its political and media allies to back this attack on Geo, which resulted in the fake blasphemy charges and repetition of these charges in Islamic and pro-military media. On May 26th Geo surrendered and printed and broadcast a groveling apology to the military and ISI over the issue.  That was not enough, nor was the order to have the station is shut down for 15 days. The military and ISI want the increasingly aggressive media to remember that there are some subjects that are simply not covered in Pakistan. Geo was undeterred though and went to court to sue ISI for defamation. The military fought back and managed to get the head of Geo convicted of blasphemy. This isn’t over, but it does show the lengths the military will go to suppress criticism.

November 24, 2014: India and Bangladesh have agreed to put aside past differences and cooperate more closely in fighting Islamic terrorism. While not a major problem in Bangladesh it is a persistent one and Bangladesh has found that local Islamic terrorists often flee to India for refuge. That will be more difficult now with the two countries sharing information on terrorism suspects and seeking them out in both countries.

November 23, 2014:  In Kashmir two Indian military operations found and seized 18 rifles, five pistols, 25 grenade launchers, 18 hand grenades and much ammunition. One of the raids was near the Pakistani border where Islamic terrorists were caught with the rifles as they were being brought over from Pakistan.

November 22, 2014: In southeast Pakistan (Karachi) the Pakistani Taliban took credit for an attack on a large gathering of a political party that opposes the Taliban. The attack wounded 15 people at the gathering. This attack was revenge for the recent arrest of several Taliban members.

November 21, 2014:  In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) Islamic terrorists used a motorcycle bomb to kill two soldiers. Hours later warplanes attacked a nearby camp believed used by Islamic terrorists and killed at least 22 people on the ground. Later the Pakistani Taliban took credit for the motorcycle bomb.

In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) American UAVs used missiles to kill six Islamic terrorists.

In eastern India (Jharkhand) police found and captured (after a gun battle) a Maoist camp, capturing lots of the supplies and bomb making materials the rebels were not able to carry away.

Pakistan and Russia signed military cooperation agreements. Russia is seeking allies to offset the international sanctions imposed because of Russian aggression against its neighbors, specifically Ukraine. So far Russia has the support of Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and now Pakistan. The agreement was signed in Pakistan where, for the first time since 1969 a Russian defense minister had visited. Since the 1980s relations with Russia were frosty because of the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the decade of fighting that followed. Since 2009 Russia and Pakistan have been discussing improving relations. As part of this closer relationship Russia recently agreed to sell Pakistan twenty Mi-35 helicopter gunships.

November 18, 2014: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) Islamic terrorists used grenades to kill two policemen.

China is offering its 18 ton J-31 stealth fighter to export customers as the FC-31. Pakistan has expressed some interest, but then Pakistan is the largest export customer for Chinese weapons. Pakistan might want to wait a bit because it is unclear how ready the J-31 is for active service. Since 2012 China has been testing the J-31 “Falcon Eagle” (from an inscription on the tail). While it looks like the American F-22, it’s also smaller than China’s other stealth fighter (the 35 ton J-20, which has been around longer). The J-31 was built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (which makes the J-11, the illegal Chinese copy of the Russian Su-27). The J-31 has some characteristics of the F-35 as well and appears to be something of an “F-35” to the earlier J-20s effort to match the American F-22. The J-31 flew for the first time in October 2012 and at that point there were at least two prototypes. The designer has talked of the J-31 being able to operate off an aircraft carrier (like the U.S. F-35 and the Chinese J-15, a J-11 variant). 

 

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