India-Pakistan: Counter-Terrorism Gone Bad

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July 17, 2016: Pakistan is feeling pretty good about its progress in suppressing Islamic terrorism within Pakistan. So far this year Islamic terrorism related deaths are down over fifty percent compared to 2015. Terrorist deaths are still more than ten times higher (on a per-capital basis) than neighboring India. But India blames Pakistan for the sharp increase in Islamic terror activity in Kashmir this year. Pakistan has been sponsoring Islamic terrorism in Indian Kashmir since the 1980s and terrorism deaths in Kashmir peaked in 2001. By 2011 India had reduced Islamic terrorist related violence in Kashmir by over 95 percent from that 2001 peak. Despite that Pakistan and the Pakistani experience with internal Islamic terrorist violence Pakistan keeps recruiting, training and sending Islamic terrorists into India.

For the first four months of 2016 the Islamic terrorist violence in Kashmir was running at the same levels as 2015. But in the last few months there has been a major escalation and now Islamic terrorist deaths in Kashmir are 50 percent higher than the same period in 2015. This is largely because Pakistan based Islamic terrorists are increasingly active in trying to cross into India along the Kashmir (northern Pakistan/northwest India) border. So far this year 81 Islamic terrorists have been killed in Indian Kashmir compared to 36 for the same period last year. Over half of these dead terrorists can be identified as coming from Pakistan. Leftist rebels (Maoists) continue to be a bigger problem for India than Islamic terrorism. The difference is the Maoists have no outside support while the Islamic terrorists have long, and very visibly been based in Pakistan.

India has tried several times to negotiate agreements with Pakistan to eliminate Pakistani border violence. These attacks are often carried out to distract Indian border guards and make it easier for Islamic terrorists to cross into India. These ceasefires have worked along most of the border, but along the border between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir.

On this border there have been 11,270 ceasefire violations since 2002 through the end of 2015. These incidents resulted in 313 deaths on the Indian side, 44 percent of them soldiers or police. These incidents peaked in 2002 with 8,376 incidents. That led to negotiations and during 2003 there were only 2,045 incidents. A new ceasefire treaty came into effect during November 2003. For a while this worked. During three years (2004, 2005 and 2007) there were no violations. But in the last few years, especially 2016, that has changed. This coincides with the Pakistani military announcing this year the January 2013 decision declaring internal Islamic terrorist groups were the main threat to Pakistan, not India, was now revoked. To the Pakistani generals India is now the main reason why the Pakistani military exists. The 2013 decision 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 and reassured the military leadership. But by 2012 there was agreement among most Pakistanis that Islamic terrorism inside Pakistan was a problem that needed more attention than India. Despite this 2013 decision Pakistan did not abandon their two decade old terrorism campaign in Indian Kashmir, but activity was reduced. The Pakistani army never stopped supporting cooperative Islamic terrorists and now has ordered them to increase their efforts in Kashmir. Officially Pakistan denies it is behind the Islamic terrorism in Kashmir but that deceit no longer works.

Pakistan Gets Real

In Pakistan a growing number of present and former officials are admitting that Pakistan still supports certain Islamic terrorist groups. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny this as more and more evidence is presented. This has led to open discussions about how to deal with the mess these lies have gotten Pakistan into. Some of these public discussions feature Pakistani officials saying that to move against all Islamic terrorists in Pakistan too aggressively would mean more Islamic terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. While that makes sense to many Pakistanis it simply angers Afghanistan and India (and now Bangladesh as well) because they have long suffered from Pakistan based Islamic terror groups that had (and still have) sanctuary in Pakistan and until recently any Pakistani openly admitting that would be called a traitor and risk prison or death. What changed Pakistani attitudes towards this official denial was the growing evidence that the Pakistani position was all a lie. That includes Pakistan trying to blame all Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan on foreigners (usually India). This became embarrassing when Pakistani Islamic terrorists would get on the Internet and provide evidence that they, not India, did it. The Afghans and Americans also lost their patience with years of Pakistani promises that “they were working on the problem” when, in fact, that was all for show.

In mid-June 2016 the United States announced that because Pakistan was lying about shutting down some key Islamic terrorist groups (like the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda and several that operate against India) in Pakistan, over $300 million in American aid was being withheld. Now the United States threatens to cut all aid and impose sanctions if Pakistan does not act. The main sore point here is continued Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban (and their Baluchistan sanctuary), various Islamic terror groups that concentrate on India (with bases throughout Pakistan but especially in the north, near the border with Indian Kashmir) and the Haqqani Network. This last group was supposedly driven out of its longtime sanctuary in North Waziristan by a 2014 Pakistani military offensive but is still seen operating in northwest Pakistan on both sides of the Afghan border. The Haqqani Network has survived since the 1980s by being very much an obedient servant of Pakistan. That meant no terror attacks in Pakistan and, when called on, carrying out specific attacks that Pakistani intelligence (ISI) wanted (usually in Afghanistan). Unlike the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani keeps most of its operations in Pakistan and operates in Afghanistan (mainly between the border and Kabul) to carry out attacks and run their various criminal activities (for raising cash). Founder Jalaluddin Haqqani died in 2o14 and his successor (Siraj Haqqani) continued to cooperate with the Taliban and maintain subservience to ISI. Because Jalaluddin Haqqani helped Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders escape Afghanistan in 2001 there has always been a sense of mutual dependence. For that reason Haqqani leaders were able to help fix the mid-2015 power struggle within the Taliban and thwart the recruiting efforts of ISIL. Given that Haqqani works for ISI, Pakistan is believed to have played a role in this new arrangement. The Afghan government protested to Pakistan about this but, as usual, Pakistan insisted it had nothing to do with Haqqani, the Taliban or supporting Islamic terrorism of any kind. The Taliban reconciliation deal appears to have involved an understanding, by the end of 2015, that if anything happened to Monsour a powerless figurehead would be appointed the new leader and Siraj Haqqani would officially run the Haqqani Network and unofficially call the shots for the Afghan Taliban. That’s what happened in late May after Monsour was killed by an American UAV missile attack. Now the Haqqani Network and its leader is seen as the most powerful Pakistani sponsored Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan.

The Taliban and drug gangs have been major problems in Afghanistan since the 1990s and both are the result of Pakistani decisions. Pakistan deliberately drove opium production out of Pakistan and into Afghanistan by the early 1990s. Then Pakistan created the Taliban to end the Afghan civil war and enable Pakistan to have more control over its unruly neighbor. That all changed after September 11, 2001 when the United States helped eject the Taliban from Afghanistan. After that the Afghan Taliban were given a sanctuary in southwest Pakistan (across the border from Helmand and Kandahar) just as the Islamic terrorists operating against India have sanctuaries throughout Pakistan and immunity from prosecution (although a few are arrested occasionally to placate foreigners like the United States or India enraged about a recent attack). With the United States still dealing with Taliban violence in Afghanistan, and able to gather more additional evidence of Pakistani complicity, it is no wonder that Pakistan feels compelled to at least openly confront the problem it created.

July 16, 2016: In Bangladesh officials claim they now know the identities of those who planned the July 1st attack in Dhaka that left twenty foreigners dead in a popular café. Two policemen who rushed to the scene also were killed. By the next day the six attackers had been found but refused to surrender and were killed in gun battle. Police have since identified five of the six dead Islamic terrorists. The same group these six belonged to were also responsible for a July 7 attack on a mosque whose members are considered hostile to Islamic terrorism. The attack was halted but two policemen were killed. While ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) took credit for the July 1 attack the government believes it was the work of local group JMB (Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh). JMB has been around since 1998 and wants to turn Bangladesh into a religious dictatorship. JMB turned to violence in 2005 and has been at war with the government ever since. Bangladesh had 42 Islamic terrorism related deaths in 2015, down from 60 in 2014 and a record 379 in 2013. The 2013 surge was 69 percent of all Islamic terrorist deaths since 2005 and a sign that Islamic terrorism continues to have a difficult time getting a foothold in Bangladesh. Actually most of the terrorism related deaths were political rather than religious but in the last few years Islamic terrorism has gotten a lot more attention in the news. The government also blames rival political parties for aiding the Islamic terrorists but has not been able to produce evidence the police can act on.

Bangladesh also blames Pakistan for supporting Islamic terrorism within Bangladesh. This goes back to a 1971 uprising in Bangladesh that led to a war between Pakistan and India. Many Pakistani military leaders see this 1971 loss as a major reason for Pakistani obsession with India. Not only was the Pakistani army decisively defeated in 1971, but the country lost much territory (which actively sought to secede and became Bangladesh). Former Pakistani military commander and dictator (via another coup) Pervez Musharraf admitted in late 2014 that he started the 1999 Kargil border war with India as another attempt to avenge the defeat (and loss of Bangladesh) in 1971. Pakistani officers (and many other Pakistanis) have always attributed the loss of Bangladesh to an Indian conspiracy with traitorous politicians in Bangladesh (that used to be called East Pakistan). Bangladesh calls that conspiracy theory absurd and that the real reason for the rebellion was corruption and incompetent government imposed by troops from “West Pakistan” (which after 1971 was all that remained of pre-1971 Pakistan).

July 14, 2016: Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of Afghan intelligence until late 2015 released copies of letters showing Pakistani intelligence officials supporting Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban operations inside Afghanistan. Nabil resigned as head of intel at the end of 2015 because president Ghani insisted on including Pakistan in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. President Ghani has since become a lot more critical of Pakistan for its support of Islamic terrorism inside Afghanistan.

July 13, 2016: The United States confirmed to Pakistan that a July 9th UAV attack in eastern Afghanistan had killed Pakistani Taliban commander Omar Mansoor. This is a big deal in Pakistan because this Mansoor was the one who planned the December 2014 terror attack on a school in a military base that killed 144 children. Mansoor continued to plan major attacks in Pakistan, the latest one in early 2016 that killed 21 students and teachers on a Pakistani university campus. The Pushtun Mansoor clan is prominent in both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.

July 11, 2016: Pakistan announced its support for China, which is seeking international support after losing a case in the UN backed Permanent Court of Arbitration over claims to own the South China Sea. The Philippines brought the suit and China said it would ignore the case and any unfavorable ruling. India urged China to seek peaceful resolution of those disputes, but many Indians now wonder if India would win a similar suit challenging Chinese claims on Indian territory. In August 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. Now that the case has been decided India is being more diplomatic.

July 10, 2016: In northeast India troops have been more actively training along the Chinese border. This is in response to a June 9th incident when some 250 Chinese troops crossed the border from Tibet into Arunachal Pradesh, stayed a few hours then left. This was not supposed to happen because of border agreements China and India negotiated in 2013 and 2014. China said the incursion was an accident and the troops left as soon as India contacted China (per the border agreements) and China was able to contact the border troops involved. There have been fewer of these incursions since 2014 but China still claims to own Arunachal Pradesh. In 2014 India began forming twelve new border police battalions, each with about a thousand personnel to detect and deal with this sort of thing along the 3,500 kilometer long border with Chinese Tibet. In 2013 there were 411 of these Chinese border violations, following 426 in 2012 and 213 in 2011. In 2014 China protested India building roads near the Chinese border in northeastern India. The roads were in an area that new (2014) Chinese maps showing Indian territory claimed by China as actually being part of China and within China’s borders. This is just another escalation in a long-running border dispute over who owns areas like Arunachal Pradesh. In this part of northeast India there are few, if any, ethnic Chinese. The locals know that a Chinese takeover would mean drastic changes because the first thing China does in places like this is move in a lot of ethnic (Han) Chinese and marginalize the natives. This rarely ends well for the locals. While these Chinese claims have been on the books for decades, since 2000 China has become more vocal about it. That's one reason India has been rapidly increasing its defense spending. But since both nations have nuclear weapons, a major war over these border disputes is unlikely. Constant Chinese pressure is another matter. China is applying the same tactic in all its recently activated territorial claims. Constant pressure while avoiding anything that might trigger a war is seen by China as a slow but certain way to secure its claims.

July 6, 2016: The head of the Pakistani military ordered that troops guarding the border not allow anyone to enter Afghanistan if it appeared they were going to commit or support violence there. In return the Pakistani military wants Afghanistan to do more to eliminate anti-Pakistan Islamic terrorists who operate from bases in Afghanistan. Announcements like this anger most Afghans because it implies that before the order Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan were allowed to cross into Afghanistan to carry out attacks. The Afghans have always gone after all Islamic terrorists hiding out near the 2,400 kilometer long border with Pakistan.

In southwest Pakistan four Iranian border guards were ambushed and killed near the Pakistan border by Iranian Baluchi rebels, who appear to have fled back into Pakistan. Iran protested the inability of Pakistan to control violence by violent outlaw Iranian Sunni groups. The Sunni Baluchi rebels are terrorists, but for political rather than religious reasons. This makes little difference to Iran which is also angry at the growing number of attacks by Pakistani Sunni Islamic terrorists against Pakistani Shia. These attacks have been growing since the 1990s. Such attacks on Pakistani Shia are a regular occurrence that Iran keeps demanding Pakistan do more to prevent. Baluchis comprise about two percent of the Iranian population and are also Indo-European like most Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis and Indians. In Pakistan Baluchis are 3.5 percent of the population and are sympathetic to the fight of their fellow Baluchi in Iran.

 

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