Pakistani leaders have failed in their recent attempts by civilian leaders to curb military political power. The generals can still veto political decisions, such as efforts to curb military support for Islamic terror groups that operate but do not attack inside Pakistan. The military considers these groups para-military assets because they can be used to attack India, Afghanistan and anyone else seen as a threat to Pakistan. This situation has gotten worse as India and Afghanistan have become more public, persistent and detailed in their efforts to get Pakistan to exercise control over its military. What makes the Pakistani military so confident in defying its own people and its elected government is the growing support from China, which will supply high-tech weapons that the United States (and other Western nations) refuse to provide because of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism. The Chinese don’t care about that as long as Pakistan does not harbor anti-Chinese Islamic terrorists. Pakistan has, with some effort, managed to do that over the last few years and China is rewarding Pakistan for that.
Meanwhile the Pakistani offensive on local Islamic terrorists continues to concentrate mainly against the Pakistani Taliban in the northwestern tribal territories. There are lower priority efforts against Islamic terrorists elsewhere in the country who attack religious minorities (mainly Shia Moslems and non-Moslems like Christians). Attacks on Shia are more of a priority than attacks on Christians because neighboring Iran threatens retaliation if there is not some action against the Sunni Islamic terror groups that specialize in attacking Pakistani Shia. Less effort is made against groups that attack Christians. One exception is ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) which, according to a recent warnings from ISI (Pakistani military intelligence) is planning to make a number of attacks on Pakistani Christians. ISI is actually supporting the Islamic terror groups it backs with this warning. That’s because ISIL is considered a threat to other Islamic terror groups as well Pakistan in general. In mid-2015 year existing Islamic terror groups in Pakistan (especially the Taliban) once more openly warned ISIL to stay out of Pakistan. Earlier in the year the local branch of ISIL announced it was setting up its headquarters in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) and planning operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. At first there were some fatal clashes between ISIL and other Islamic terrorists in the Pakistani tribal territories but then nothing. ISIL obtained most of its local recruits from the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and released a video showing a former leader of a Pakistan Islamic terrorist faction now becoming a leader of the Pakistani branch of ISIL. More were expected to follow but few did. For the hard core Islamic terrorist ISIL is the way to go but there were not that many hard core Islamic terrorists or supporters left in Pakistan. Moreover the international reputation of ISIL does not appeal to South Asians as much as it does to those in the Middle East. ISIL soon found Baluchistan to be a hostile environment. The local tribes are hostile to the government, but for political not religious reasons. In fact these tribal rebels are not friendly to Islamic terror groups in general and that could cause problems for an ultra-hard core group like ISIL. Apparently ISIL is going to try to attract some recruits by killing local Christians, something that has been going on for decades without any help from ISIL.
The Pakistani military has not only waged a successful offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in the last year, but also another less-publicized effort to suppress local media outlets critical of the military. This is another part of a successful military effort to recover from defeats suffered because of the last period of military government (1999 to 2008). As is often the case after a coup the military gradually lost a lot of power and influence inside Pakistan. This time it was worse because the Internet allowed for many more media outlets in Pakistan to distribute news of military misbehavior. The Internet also made it much more difficult for the government to control the news. Thus until quite recently evil acts by the military were getting a lot of publicity, which greatly reduced popular support for the military. More and more journalism was coming from unidentified amateurs. The Taliban and the military both have death squads hunting down journalists who are seen as "unhelpful" but this did not stop the criticism as it had it the past, at least not at first. Complicating all this is a growing anti-corruption movement and much less popular support for military governments worldwide. Since Pakistan was created in 1947, half the time the country has been ruled by generals who took over "for the good of the country." That no longer flies and the generals began looking for another way to safeguard their wealth (gained largely via corruption) and privileges (also mostly illegal) from growing public wrath. A widely popular 2014 offensive against Islamic terrorists who stage attacks inside Pakistan was the key to making the military more popular and that made it possible to more effectively threaten and silence a lot of media criticism inside Pakistan. This situation won’t last as Pakistani generals can see that their power has been on a gradual and unstoppable decline for more than a decade. Eventually it will all end.
Inside Pakistan there has been a very noticeable drop in Islamic terrorist violence in the last year. That’s largely due to the security forces (especially the army) detaining or arresting over 50,000 Islamic terrorist suspects and killing over 3,000. Many Pakistanis fear the relief will be temporary because the military made a similar (although smaller scale) effort in 2007 and the Islamic terrorists eventually resumed their attacks inside Pakistan because the army could not or would not prosecute, convict and jail many of the Islamic terrorists it detained. Moreover the military is not doing much to suppress Islamic terrorists it supports, especially those that provide death squads to go after critics of Islamic conservatism and support of the military. Some of these killers are also suspected of being unleashed against critics of the military, especially when it involves efforts to curb the corruption in the military.
This is having repercussions in India where there are warnings of increased Islamic terrorist attacks during the upcoming Hindu religious festivals. Indian intelligence believes that a Pakistan based Islamic terrorist group has trained and deployed at least 30 men to carry out a spectacular attack against a Hindu religious festival crowd.
Afghanistan and India are both becoming more insistent, and public, in their complaints about Pakistani support for Islamic terrorists. This comes at a time when Pakistan is offering to arrange peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and Afghanistan. That is not working out too well. Afghanistan believes that a lot of the recent Taliban violence in Afghanistan is the result of thousands of non-Pakistani Islamic terrorists fleeing North Waziristan and moving to Afghanistan. There, many of these foreign Islamic terrorists have joined the Afghan Taliban and provided an infusion of very dedicated and dangerous fighters. Afghan intelligence believes that the Afghan Taliban leadership is still operating from a sanctuary in southwest Pakistan, something Pakistan continues to deny despite lots of evidence showing senior Taliban are in the area (Baluchistan). India has long provided the locations of government supported terrorist training camps in Pakistani Kashmir. Indian Air Force commanders openly talk of how they could quickly destroy those 17 camps if the Indian government gave the order.
In northwest Pakistan the offensive in North Waziristan continues. The fighting now is mostly skirmishes and the occasional ambush. The Pakistani Taliban are trying to respond via the Internet. There a video recently appeared showing some Taliban hanging a former Pakistani soldier who they accused of being a government spy. The hanging was described as revenge for the government reinstating the death penalty after a December 2014 Taliban terror attack that killed 153 people at a school. Since then over a hundred convicted Islamic terrorists have been hanged. So far this year Pakistan has killed about 2,100 Islamic terrorists. That’s about the same number killed in the first nine months of 2014. More importantly deaths among civilians and the security forces are way down (by about half) compared to 2014. Still, Pakistani terrorist and rebel related deaths are about ten times what they are in India, a country with six times as many people. Pakistan is obviously a far more dangerous place, in large part because the Pakistani government has supported Islamic terrorism since the 1980s and continues to do so.
The U.S. has agreed to a $953 million deal that provides Pakistan with 15 AH-1Z “Viper” helicopter gunships, a thousand Hellfire missiles along with supporting military equipment and services. The U.S. has been working out the details of this purchase since early 2015 after agreeing to deal in response to years of Pakistani requests for more helicopter gunships. What may have persuaded the Americans to move forward on this request was the late 2014 Russian offer to sell Pakistan twenty Mi-35 helicopter gunships. Shortly after Pakistan confirmed this purchase the U.S. agreed to discuss terms on the AH-1Z idea. Meanwhile India approved the purchase of 22 American AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships and 15 CH-47F transport helicopters. India is considered more trustworthy by the Americans and certainly more hostile to Islamic terrorism.
In eastern India (particularly Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand states) operations against Maoist rebels continue. While Maoist deaths are about the same as 2014 (100 a year) losses among civilians and security forces are down by half. The government has been using a large (over 100,000 para-military police) force in the area since 2009 to try and eliminate the Maoist rebellion. It has been slow going because the Maoists are fighting against real problems (mainly corruption and bad government) in eastern India. The Maoists are a lot weaker now but still have local supporters.
Islamic terrorist violence in the northwest (Kashmir) continues, although at much lower levels than a decade ago. As with the Maoists the Pakistan based Islamic terrorists still have local support because of continuing hostility at largely Hindu India ruling largely Moslem Kashmir. This is one of the unresolved issues from the creation of modern India and Pakistan in 1947.
October 4, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (150 kilometers south of Peshawar) the Taliban used a roadside bomb to kill an anti-Taliban tribal militia leader. The victim’s son was wounded. The anti-Taliban tribes are a major problem for the Pakistani Taliban and more tribes are becoming actively hostile to Islamic terrorism in general.
October 3, 2015: In Bangladesh Islamic terrorists killed a Japanese man. This comes after a September 28th Islamic terrorist attack that killed an Italian man. Previously unknown Islamic terrorists took credit for both murders. The government believes that a pro-Islamic radicalism opposition party was behind the murders. This is seen as an effort to destabilize the nation so that the opposition can regain control. There has been little Islamic terrorist activity in Bangladesh compared to Pakistan, or even India.
In China the Pakistani Air Force concluded a series of joint training exercises it has been holding there over the last four weeks. Pakistan is buying more combat aircraft from China and considers China an ally. While the two countries do not have a mutual defense pact, India considers Pakistan and China enemies and likely to cooperate in any future war by either of them with India. This, to India, explains why China is selling Pakistan eight of the latest model Chinese diesel-electric submarines. One of these subs in Chinese service visited Pakistan earlier in 2015. China considers continued free passage of Chinese ships through the Indian Ocean crucial and now has an ally paying to be equipped with warships China itself uses. Among other things it means China and Pakistan would both have facilities to support the same class of submarines. The implications of all this is not lost on India.
By the end of 2015 China is expected to begin work on a $2.5 billion terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the Pakistani port of Gwadar. This will make it possible for natural gas produces in that part of Pakistan (Baluchistan) to be sent by ship to overseas customers (like China). In 2013 China agreed to spend $18 billion to build a road from Gwadar and into northwest China. This will require drilling long tunnels through the Himalayan Mountains on the border (in Pakistani controlled Kashmir.) The road and LNG deals are part of an existing and more extensive $46 billion project called the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. This will make it much easier and cheaper to move people, data (via fiber optic cables) and goods between China and Pakistan. China also gets a 40 year lease on much of the port facilities at Gwadar, which India fears will serve as a base for Chinese warships.
September 30, 2015: Pakistan has offered more troops for UN peacekeeping missions as well as detachments of the new Pakistani armed UAVs (which can be used without weapons while in UN service).
September 22, 2015: Indian military intelligence warned that it had detected over 300 Pakistan based Islamic terrorists are on the Kashmir border waiting for an opportunity to sneak across. It is also believed that there are at least 1,100 Islamic terrorists in seventeen training camps in Pakistani Kashmir.
September 18, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (outside Peshawar) the Pakistani Taliban attacked Badaber air base but were repulsed. Coming from two directions the Taliban gunmen got past security by wearing military uniforms and riding in captured vehicles. Thus guards waved them through. One group of Taliban attacked a mosque on the base, killing 16 worshippers. The military recovered and a quick reaction force was on the scene in ten minutes. At least 13 attackers were killed along with 17 military personnel and civilians. The air base is actually a well-guarded military housing complex rather than an active air base. This is the third Taliban attack on major military bases since 2014. The other two attacks were against a naval base and a school for the children of military personnel (that left 153 dead, most of them children, and enraged the entire country). Pakistan said that the air base attack was planned in Afghanistan, where many Pakistani Taliban have fled and regrouped in remote areas of eastern Afghanistan.
In Indian Kashmir troops intercepted and killed five armed Islamic terrorists trying to sneak in from Pakistani Kashmir.
September 15, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (South Waziristan) troops used bulldozers to destroy dozens of shops and stalls along a road where a Taliban roadside bomb had recently killed five soldiers. The army believed the destroyed shops were owned by Taliban members or supporters.
On the Iranian border eight smugglers were killed during a gun battle with Iranian IRGC troops. Five of the dead were Pakistanis and all the smugglers were trying to bring in drugs.
September 13, 2015: In central Pakistan (Multan) a motorcycle suicide bomber attacked a bus terminal leaving eleven dead and 59 wounded.
Police in Thailand arrested three women suspected of involvement in the August 17th temple bombing. Earlier three other suspects (two men and a woman) were arrested in Malaysia. One of those arrested in Malaysia was a man from Pakistan.
September 12, 2015: China and India are trying to negotiate yet another border dispute. In this case an Indian patrol caught China building a watchtower on the Indian side of the border in Indian state of Ladakh (northwest India) and had to persuade the Chinese to withdraw. India has had 150 disputes like this so far this year and about two-thirds of them resulted in confrontations between Indian and Chinese troops. This sort of thing has been common in the last few years and China usually backs down, eventually. Most of these incidents occur in only four areas, Ladakh being one of them.