Pakistan continues aggressive patrolling and frequent raids in the northwestern tribal territories to prevent the Pakistani Taliban from rebuilding their network of bases and support facilities. All this began with a major offensive in mid-2014 and since then the Pakistani military has destroyed nearly 900 terrorist bases and camps in North Waziristan alone. This led to the seizure and destruction of 253 tons of explosives and over 18,000 weapons. So far nearly 2,800 Islamic terrorists and nearly 400 soldiers have died. Pakistan has noted a sharp reduction in Islamic terrorist activity inside Pakistan because of the offensive. For example, in 2014 there were 2,863 violent deaths in the tribal territories in 2014 while this year the annual rate is less than half that.
Meanwhile India is still dealing with Pakistani sponsored Islamic terrorists in Kashmir. There are believed to be about 150 of these terrorists left in Indian Kashmir and about twice as many more waiting in bases across the border in Pakistani Kashmir.
Russia recently announced that in 2014 it exported nearly $15 billion worth of weapons. Some 88 percent was financed by the government owned Rosboronexport. Nearly 70 percent of those sales were to three countries; India (25 percent), China (22 percent) and Iraq (22 percent). Several billion dollars of payments for 2014 sales are being held up by the sanctions. These payments will finally arrive once the sanctions are lifted. Pakistan is the major customer for Chinese military exports although Russia is now getting some business from Pakistan.
August 6, 2015: India went public with its support for Vietnam and other nations in the area opposing China claiming most of the South China Sea as Chinese waters. The Chinese claims are in violation of several international treaties. India has long criticized the Chinese position but is now being more public about it.
August 5, 2015: In Kashmir Islamic terrorists ambushed an Indian Army convoy, killing two soldiers and wounding eight others. Other soldiers pursued the three attackers and killed two of them and captured the third one. The prisoner later admitted he was Pakistani, which was pretty clear from his accent. Pakistan has always denied that it supports Islamic terrorists from Pakistan going to Kashmir but the few who are captured alive (they are apparently trained to avoid that) often admit that they received support from the Pakistani military and ISI (intel agency). India later reported that the captured terrorist eventually provided a lot of details on new infiltration routes and orders for these Islamic terrorists to avoid civilian casualties and concentrate on fighting Indian security forces. This means the Islamic terrorists sent across won’t last as long but it is believed the violence against civilians, be they non-Moslems killed for being “infidels” or Moslems killed for not cooperating, was counterproductive.
In Pakistan the Supreme Court confirmed that the military terrorism courts, established earlier in 2015, can try and even execute civilians accused of terrorism. Back in February provincial police and courts identified over 1,300 Islamic terrorism suspects for the new military courts to prosecute. These terrorism suspects have long operated with impunity because the police would not arrest them and that was largely because the overburdened (and sometimes pro-terrorist) courts would not or could not (because of inefficiency and corruption) prosecute them. The military courts are supposed to change that and now the last obstacle, the Supreme Court, has been cleared. Another major change is the December 2014 lifting of a six year moratorium on the death penalty. This has also survived court challenge and so far 200 people (most of them not terrorists) who had already been tried and sentenced to death have been executed. There are 3,000 condemned surviving in prison because of the moratorium and the government has said it will seek to execute at least 500 of these convicted killers.
August 4, 2015: In Kashmir Pakistani troops again violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement by firing with machine-guns and mortars at Indian troops across the LOC (Line of Control). The Indians returned fire and when the shootings stopped two Pakistani and one Indian soldiers were dead. The Pakistanis fired on a dozen Indian border posts and the hours of firing also killed one Indian civilian and wounded four others. Attacks like this have occurred over 1,100 times since 2013, leaving over 30 Indians dead, about half of them them civilians. There were 347 violations in 2013 and 583 in 2014. In the first half of 2015 there were 199 of these incidents. Pakistan has suffered more casualties because many of these attacks were to provide a distraction so that Islamic terrorists based and trained in Pakistan could sneak into India. There is another reason for these unprovoked attacks as they are apparently an important part of an effort to keep the Pakistani Army “India is preparing to attack us” conspiracy theory alive. The official Pakistani Army position is that India starts these incidents by firing first but there is little evidence of that and even the Pakistani government is at a loss as to why their military continues to allow these incidents to happen even when the government orders them to. Meanwhile the Pakistanis will claim that any Indian return fire was “unprovoked”, especially if any Pakistani civilians (which the Pakistani army does not seem too concerned about) are killed by the return fire. Pakistani generals believe India can’t really do anything because of the risk of nuclear war. But more and more Indians are turning that around and theorizing that if Indian troops crossed the LOC and seized the Pakistani half of Kashmir and all those Islamic terrorist bases they could at least get Pakistan to agree to shut down their “good” (only attack India) Islamic terror groups. The Indians believe the Pakistanis would not start a nuclear war over this and that sort of talk showing up in Indian media with increasing frequency has got Pakistani leaders concerned.
August 3, 2015: In central India (Delhi) a Maoist leader was found and arrested. The man had fled eastern India because of the increased police activity searching for him.
August 1, 2015: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) soldiers raided a compound near the Afghan border and killed a wanted Pakistani al Qaeda commander (Umar Lateef) and captured his wife and children. The wife was also wanted, as she ran Islamic terrorist operations involving women. Lateef had a $20,000 Pakistani reward offered for capture or death and his wife a $5,000 one. The family had been hiding out in Pakistan and some of the other adults with them who escaped in the night apparently fled back to Afghanistan. Lateef was the al Qaeda commander for Baluchistan and parts of adjacent Punjab province. He was actively organizing terror attacks and recruiting.
July 31, 2015: The Afghan Taliban announced the selection of a new leader (Mullah Akhtar Mansour) to replace founder and longtime leader Mullah Omar. Mansour has been the acting head of the Taliban since 2010 because Mullah Omar was said to have health problems. In the last week the Taliban admitted that Omar had been dead since 2013 but have not revealed exactly why his death was concealed. The reason may have been to maintain unity because after the appointment of Mansour was made several Taliban factions went public complaining of how the selection was made. The Afghan Taliban is known to be sharply divided over the subject of peace talks with the Afghan government. Some factions also complain openly that Pakistan (in the form of the ISI) actually controls the Taliban leaders living in Baluchistan under the protection of the ISI. Mansour backs peace talks while Omar was said to have opposed them. The official shift in Taliban leadership caused the resumption of peace talks (between the Taliban and the Afghan government) scheduled for today to be delayed until sometime in the future.
July 30, 2015: The Afghan Taliban confirmed that their founder and longtime leader Mullah Omar had died in a Pakistani hospital in 2013. Pakistan continued to officially deny that Omar ever had sanctuary in Pakistan, but that was what they long said (and continue to say that) about Osama bin Laden.
July 29, 2015: The Afghan government confirmed that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was indeed dead, apparently since 2013.
July 27, 2015: In northwestern India (Punjab) three men armed with automatic weapons attacked a police station just before dawn. The attackers fled, firing as they went and twelve hours later they had been tracked down and killed. In the process three policemen and three civilians also died. Pakistan denied that the men were from Pakistan but Indian police said one of the GPS devices the men were carrying showed that they had travelled from nearby Pakistan. There has not been an attack like this in Punjab for 13 years. Police throughout Punjab were put on alert and five bombs were found planted on a railroad line. Some security officials in Punjab believe this might have to do with the long-moribund Punjab separatist movement.
July 26, 2015: Police in eastern India (Chhattisgarh) arrested five men and accused them of being a support network for Maoist rebels in the area.
Burma has openly declared that it will cooperate with India to prevent Indian rebel groups from establishing bases inside Burma. Since early June the army has sent several thousand additional troops to the 1,643 kilometer long Indian border. Burma admits it is responsible for detecting and expelling these illegal visitors but most of the border area is thinly populated forests and mountains and it is very difficult to get troops into the area and very expensive to support them as they seek out and deal with any intruders. The cooperation with India goes beyond sharing intelligence and coordinating security operations on both sides of the border. India has also, since June, sent a few more battalions to areas the rebels seem to prefer to cross at and increased patrols on the Indian side of the border. This makes it more difficult for the rebels to move to their Burma sanctuaries but does not stop them. Because of the June 4th rebel ambush inside India, by Indian rebels using Burmese bases, the Burmese army will act on Indian intelligence identifying routes the rebels are using to cross the border.
July 25, 2015: In eastern India (Jharkhand) a senior Maoist leader was found and killed in a gun battle. His followers accused the police of murdering their leader and promised revenge.
July 24, 2015: Pakistan finalized the agreement to buy eight Chinese diesel-electric submarines for $625 million each. For over a year China and Pakistan have been negotiating prices and terms for the sale. The high price indicates the sale is for Type 041s although there has been no official announcement yet about the details of this sale. Currently the Pakistani Navy has five submarines. The Type 041s have the most modern equipment including an AIP propulsion system that enables these boats to stay under water for more than a week at a time. This contract is the largest arms purchase Pakistan has ever made from China. Despite this sale many Pakistani admirals believe their combat capabilities are declining because there is not enough money to maintain the fleet and pay for training (which means lots of time at sea).
July 23, 2015: Afghanistan complained that 53 rockets were fired from Pakistan into eastern Afghanistan (Nangarhar and Kunar provinces). Although most of the rockets landed in remote areas they still managed to kill four civilians and wound two others. These rocket, mortar and artillery attacks from Pakistan have been particularly heavy since 2013. Pakistan usually refuses to admit they are even happening but because of the recent cooperation deal (mainly against Islamic terrorists) Pakistan is more receptive to these complaints.
July 18, 2015: India announced another expansion (17 new battalions) of its para-military police for operations in Kashmir (five battalions) and eastern India (12 battalions.) This is all for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which is the principal national police organization dealing with terrorists and rebels. Founded in 1939, and retained when India became independent in 1947 by 2010 the CRPF had nearly 200,000 personnel. It deployed over 70 battalions of para-military police back then, including seven “rapid action” battalions that can be quickly sent to any part of the country, to deal with outbreaks of violence. The CRPF is heavily involved fighting Maoists. Since 2010 the CRPF has been expanded 50 percent with most of the new battalions (of about 1,100 men each) going to eastern India for use against Maoist rebels.
July 17, 2015:
Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, released a message on the Internet in which he explicitly endorsed peace talks with the Afghan government. Omar has been living in a Pakistani sanctuary (Baluchistan) since late 2001 and has long opposed peace talks. But pressure from many of his subordinates in Afghanistan, plus Pakistanis seeking to cut off assistance the Pakistani Taliban sometimes gets from their Afghan counterparts, is also advising Omar to negotiate. Omar has not been seen or heard for several years and recently has issued only a few written statements a year.
July 16, 2015: The July 14 treaty between Iran and the UN, if it gets ratified and implemented, means lots of new economic opportunities for India and Pakistan. Many of these are simply older projects than can now be accelerated and expanded. That includes the deal with India to expand the port of Chabahar in southeastern Iran. Work here, on the port and new roads and railroads to Afghanistan and Central Asia, are already underway. With the economic freedom of the new treaty Iran has already asked India to expand its investment. While this project hurts Pakistan (which now monopolizes the movement of most Afghan imports and exports) the new treaty enables Iran to go forward with a long-delayed (by sanctions) project to build a natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, as well as electrical power transmission lines. Pakistan is suffering debilitating power shortages and Iran is the most immediate source of help. Iran is particularly eager to help Pakistan because Pakistan is the only Moslem country where a majority (57 percent) of the people (over 70 percent Sunni) have a positive view of Iran. Afghanistan sees great benefits from the possibility that economic sanctions against neighboring Iran might be lifted (because of the recent peace deal). This is particularly attractive to Afghans getting fed up with the rising costs (bribes, theft) of moving imports or exports via Pakistan. The new treaty, if it gets ratified and implemented, means a lot for Afghanistan.
July 15, 2015: Pakistan claims a small quad-copter UAV was flown from India into Pakistan on a spy mission but was shot down inside Pakistan. India denied the UAV belonged to the Indian military. A week later Chinese media pointed out that the “Indian” UAV Pakistan claims to have shot down on the Pakistani side of the border with Indian Kashmir was not Indian but was a commercial UAV from China. These Chinese commercial UAVs get around and are sometimes modified and upgraded for military use. When it comes to commercial UAVs, China is a major supplier and will sell to anyone anywhere. The quad-copter incident is supposed to be related to recent incidents of gunfire across the border.
Police in eastern India (Chhattisgarh) confirmed that four policemen kidnapped (from a bus) earlier in the week were killed by the leftist rebels.