A growing number of Afghans now believe that Pakistani support for Islamic terrorists attacking Afghanistan is more of a problem than Islamic terror groups already inside Afghanistan. This includes the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). Going public with this sort of thing is another after effect of the July 23 ISIL suicide bombing in Kabul that killed over 80 people. President Ghani and senior Afghan (and American) intel officials agree that this attack was only possible because of Pakistani support for ISIL. Thus Afghanistan now believes Pakistan is the biggest threat to Afghanistan because Pakistan makes the drug trade possible and supports Islamic terror groups, in addition to the Taliban, inside Afghanistan. Pakistan denies all this but most Afghans and a growing number of Pakistanis believe the accusations are true.
The Afghan government had long been complaining to Pakistan about the continued presence of Islamic terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan. These complaints were largely ignored and since 2014 the Pakistanis have been boasting about their military operation to eliminate the sanctuary in the northwest (North Waziristan). But the Afghans knew that the operation in North Waziristan was mainly about Islamic terrorists who carried out attacks against the Pakistani government. The Islamic terrorists who operated against Afghanistan were largely untouched. In early 2016 there were more and more spectacular attacks inside Afghanistan by Islamic terrorists who could be traced back to Pakistan. A lot of the evidence was collected by Afghan special operations troops. Pakistan continued to deny responsibility and the Afghan government quietly agreed to an American plan that would go after the Taliban and other Islamic terrorists operating against Afghanistan where they were. This led to the first American UAV missile attack in southwest Pakistan, which killed the head of the Afghan Taliban as he returned to Quetta after visiting Iran. President Ghani has offered to provide Pakistan with the addresses of Afghan Taliban leaders who have been living (mainly in the city of Quetta) since 2001.
Afghan and American intel officials agree that most (about 70 percent) of the ISIL men in Afghanistan are Pakistani, mainly former members of the Pakistani Taliban seeking a more hardcore group to work with. Since 2015 ISIL has been trying to establish a base area in eastern Afghanistan (mainly in Nangarhar province) but that has led to constant skirmishing with Pakistani Taliban hiding out there. The local tribes are also largely hostile to ISIL and all this has provided better intel for the security forces on what ISIL is up to and exactly where they are and who they are. Some of the tribes used their own militias to fight ISIL but more often just helpe set up defenses to keep ISIL out. This cooperation (and information) led to more effective and frequent American air strikes and raids by Afghan troops and American commandos and hundreds of ISIL men have been killed and many more wounded. Many of the wounded desert and there are fewer new volunteers. Cut off from Afghan recruits it makes sense that many of the thousand or so ISIL personnel still active in Afghanistan are from Pakistan. So are many other Islamic terrorists who operate in eastern Afghanistan. But Afghan intelligence believes the Pakistani intelligence (ISI) is now deliberately helping ISIL recruit in Pakistan as long as the recruits go to Afghanistan. ISIL is barely hanging on in Afghanistan and is largely absent in Pakistan. ISIL is not dead in Afghanistan but it isn’t growing much either.
India blames Pakistan for the sharp increase in Islamic terror activity in Kashmir this year. Pakistan was accused of supporting young Moslems in Kashmir to join Pakistani backed terror groups. That led to a popular (especially on social media) young (21) Kashmiri Islamic terrorist (Burhan Wani) being found and killed by police on July 8th. This led to an outbreak of massive, and often violent protests that have left sixty dead and over 6,000 wounded so far. Burhan Wani was seen as someone who could revive Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), which was once the most powerful Islamic terror group in Indian Kashmir. HM has been fading away since 2010 as more of its leaders were killed or captured and few replacements showed up. HM is unique in that it came to be dominated by Indian Kashmiris and resisted control by Pakistan. While still receiving personnel and other aid from Pakistan, HM was more sensitive to Kashmiri needs and desires, not what Pakistani foreign policy demanded. As a result, when the Kashmiri population turned against Islamic terrorism after 2001 HM began to decline but still retained more local support than the groups that were basically Pakistani inventions. Thus HM maintained its position as the major Islamic terror group in Kashmir because increased Indian success at border security hurt the groups more dependent on personnel and aid from Pakistan.
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 continued 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.
Over 50,000 have died in Islamic militant violence in Kashmir since the 1980s. This ruined the thriving tourism based economy of Kashmir, and eventually turned the largely Moslem population against the terrorists. While the Islamic terrorists have failed to drive India out of Kashmir, they have managed, since the 1970s, to drive most (95 percent) of the Hindus from the Kashmir Valley. But many Hindu shrines, some over 3,000 years old, remain. Thousands of Hindus return each year to pray at these shrines, and the Moslems have begun agitating to restrict access to these shrines. The most militant Moslems want the shrines destroyed. Although Moslem armies first entered this region a thousand years ago, the struggle between Islam and much more ancient Hindu religion continues.
For India Leftist rebels (Maoists) continue to be a bigger problem 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. Nevertheless the Maoists this year are reversing several years of decline (in Maoist related violence). In 2015 there were 251 deaths related to Maoist violence, the lowest level in over a decade. But so far this year it looks like Maoist violence will nearly double, going back to levels not seen since 2011. This is mainly because of the failure to deal with toe corruption that kept the Maoists popular enough for decades to keep them going.
In Bangladesh Islamic terrorist related deaths for 2016 are headed for triple the 42 for all of 2015. That was 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. One thing that may reverse the trend is the massive popular and government reaction to the July 1st terrorist attack on a popular café in Dhaka that left 22 dead (including 20 foreigners). While ISIL 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 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).
August 6, 2016: Pakistan and Iran agreed to work more closely to deal with ISIL activity in the region.
August 4, 2016: A Pakistani Mi-17 helicopter crash landed in eastern Afghanistan (Logar province) when it was fired on by Afghan Taliban. The Taliban later announced that they had captured the six passengers and crew and destroyed (by fire) the helicopter. Pakistan has asked Afghanistan for help in rescuing the captives who are apparently all Pakistani except for a Russian navigator. The Russian was there because the Mi-17 was flying, with Afghan permission) to Russia for refurbishment and upgrades, The Mi-17 was getting to Russia via Uzbekistan. Afghanistan is investigating the incident to make sure it is not about something else (like the years of illegal Pakistani flights into and out of Afghanistan).
August 3, 2016: In Pakistan Islamic conservative clerics and politicians again demanded that new school textbooks include nearly 500 verses from the Koran that promote jihad (violence) against non-Moslems. The government has resisted these demands but they keep getting made. Often the Islamic conservatives are successful in getting laws passed. Thus in Pakistan the law demands execution for any Moslem who converts to another religion or commits other forms of blasphemy. Laws protecting women from rape and “honor killings” are regularly blocked. This is all the aftereffect of the Pakistani military (when it was running the government in the 1980s) deciding to back Islamic conservatism and violence. This led to an increase in religion based violence inside Pakistan. This was not just Moslems attacking Pakistani non-Moslems (Hindis, Sikhs and Christians) with impunity but also smaller Moslem sects (like the Shia) that many Sunni religious scholars (and most Sunni Islamic terrorists) consider heretics.
At a meeting in China officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Tajikistan agreed to share intelligence on Islamic terrorism and cooperate in other ways to reduce Islamic terrorist activity.
In northwest Pakistan troops killed four armed men trying to sneak in from Afghanistan at night. At first the four were believed to be Islamic terrorists but locals insisted they were Afghan bandits who had been raiding in this area recently. This sort of violence, which has been common for centuries, often gets mistaken for Islamic terrorists.
August 2, 2016: The UN refused to take sides in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. Since 1948 the UN has monitored the LOC (Line of Control) ceasefire line in Kashmir that separates Indian and Pakistani controlled Kashmir. India considers UN refusal to “monitor” what is going on inside Indian (or Pakistani) Kashmir as more proof that Indian Kashmir is part of India and not Pakistani territory that Pakistan feels entitled to get back any way it can.
August 1, 2016: In southwest Pakistan (Quetta) Islamic terrorists shot dead two local Shia Moslems. About 20 percent of Pakistanis are Shia and Pakistan has its hands full trying to halt Sunni Islamic terrorists from attacking those Shia. Those attacks anger Iran and Pakistan does not want to make that worse.
July 30, 2016: In Pakistan (near Lahore) police killed seven Islamic terrorists who were among a group of ten found to be plotting several major attacks in the city of Lahore. The dead men were believed to be Pakistani Taliban, which is still trying to make a comeback since it lost is sanctuary in North Waziristan in 2014. A week earlier another five Taliban Islamic terrorists were found and killed in the same area.
July 21, 2016: Chinese and Pakistani troops began joint patrols along their common 522 kilometer border between Pakistani Kashmir and Xinjiang province. This is mainly about Chinese concern over Islamic terrorists getting in or out of China via that border. Pakistan has long been very attentive to those concerns. In late 2015 Pakistan announced that all Uighur Islamic terrorists in Pakistan had been killed or driven from the country. In particular the primary Uighur Islamic terrorist organization, the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM) was no longer operating in Pakistan. China is not so sure. Since 2007 China has been pressing Pakistan to do something about Chinese Islamic terrorists (Turkic Uighurs from Xinjiang province) based in Pakistan and Pakistan finally began making some serious moves on that problem in early 2014. There followed the June 2014 offensive in North Waziristan concentrating on the “bad Taliban” and their allies (like the Uighurs). Pakistan is still reluctant to admit it is the cause of so many regional Islamic terrorism problems but the neighbors were not being very understanding. China, who supplies a lot of Pakistan’s weapons and foreign investment, finally told its troublesome neighbor to fix the situation or see China go from being a helpful to a hostile neighbor. The other neighbors have had a similar reaction, but given China’s place as Pakistan’s most important ally, Pakistan could no longer ignore the problem. The other major military ally and weapons supplier, the United States, has been less insistent than China and generally been ignored. India and Pakistan have no economic pressure on Pakistan and their complaints about Islamic terrorism are dismissed or turned around with Pakistan accusing Afghanistan and India of supporting Islamic terrorism inside Pakistan. In early 2016 Indian troops spotted Chinese troops on the Pakistani side of the LOC in Kashmir. The Chinese are apparently in Pakistani Kashmir to work on the Karakoram Highway which connects Pakistan and China via Pakistani Kashmir and some of the roughest terrain in the world. Trade between Pakistan and China is increasing and the 1,800 kilometer long Karakoram Highway has been undergoing upgrades since 2010 to increase capacity. These improvements also make it possible for China to move military forces into northern Pakistan more quickly, something the Pakistanis like because it scares India. The highway was built largely by China and opened in 1979 after over a decade of effort.
July 20, 2016: In southwest Pakistan Iranian security forces arrested forty local Baluchi tribesmen on the Iranian side of the border and accused them of planning terror attacks. Also found were tunnels dug by these Baluchis to facilitate the terrorist activity. Iran has been fighting Baluchi separatists for centuries. Armed Baluchi groups often base themselves across the border in Pakistan, which has been unable to halt this sort of thing. The Baluchi are Sunni, and resent the way they are persecuted by the Shia majority in Iran. About two percent (1.4 million) of Iranians are Baluchi. Most Baluchi tribes live across the border in Pakistan. All of southwest Pakistan is called Baluchistan, or "Land Of the Baluchi", a tribe ethnically related to the Pushtun in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Iranians themselves.
July 19, 2016: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) army commandos rescued the son of senior judge for Sindh province. He was kidnapped on June 20th in Karachi. The kidnapped man (a lawyer in his 20s) was found in a Pakistani Taliban camp near the Afghan border. Three Islamic terrorists guarding the place were killed and there were no other injuries. It is still unclear if this was done for ransom or to terrorize judges into doing something for gangsters or Islamic terrorists.