Over the last few months the United States, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India have openly called on Pakistan to stop lying about its support for Islamic terrorists that are allowed sanctuary in Pakistan as long as they only carry out attacks elsewhere (especially in Afghanistan and India). Pakistan has been doing this since the 1980s but always denied it. This began in the 1980s when Pakistan provided a refuge for Afghans fleeing the Russian violence (similar to what the Russians are now doing in Syria) following a 1979 invasion. Pakistan, with cash and weapons from oil rich Arabian countries and protection from Russian retaliation from America, allowed Afghan rebels to maintain bases alongside Afghan refugee camps. The problem was that after the Russians left in 1989 Pakistan has never stopped supporting Afghan rebels and interfering in Afghan affairs. Pakistan also encouraged Islamic terrorist attacks inside India. Pakistan admits they created the Taliban, but only to stop the 1990s civil war in Afghanistan.
That wasn’t true. Pakistan expected the Taliban to ensure that whatever government was running Afghanistan would do whatever Pakistan needed done. That meant tolerance for the Afghan drug trade (which made many Pakistanis rich), no contacts with India and no criticism of the Pakistani military or its intelligence branch (the ISI). It was of little concern to Pakistan that the Taliban and the drug gangs have been tearing Afghanistan apart ever since. Only about ten percent of Afghans got any economic benefit out of the drug business and millions of Afghans, Pakistanis and people throughout the region have become drug addicts. Pakistan has been using Islamic terrorist groups against India as well and this turned India and Afghanistan into allies. It is telling that while Pakistan supports terror against India every other Moslem nation in the region (especially Iran and Bangladesh) regards non-Moslem India as someone they can get along with. Pakistan, despite sharing a long border with Iran, is considered more troublesome and less reliable than India. Bangladesh used to be part of Pakistan but rebelled in the 1970s and despite savage reprisals from the Pakistanis, achieved independence and continue to hold Pakistan responsible for those atrocities. Pakistan has always denied the Indian, Afghan and Bangladeshi accusations but now the United States is becoming more forceful in demanding that Pakistan stop lying and terrorizing its neighbors and threating the world. All this came to a head recently in the UN where many nations, especially Afghanistan, and India, openly demanded that Pakistan stop supporting Islamic terrorist groups, particularly those that specialize in terrorizing neighbors. The Pakistan military, which always portrays itself as a victim, responded by up increasing violence along the Indian border, blaming it all on India, and risking a nuclear war because India, unlike Afghanistan, has nukes. Meanwhile Afghanistan, Iran and India are developing new trade routes that will ignore Pakistan.
A growing number of Pakistanis agree with the demands expressed in the UN and are seeking to reduce the political power of the Pakistani military, which was key in creating the use of Islamic terrorists to attack neighbors. While Pakistan has always (since it was created, along with modern India, in 1947) been a democracy, it did not ensure that its military would always be subservient to civilian control. The Indians did do this. Thus the Pakistani military has come to be known as “an army with a country” instead of the other way around. The elected leaders of Pakistan have not been able to gain control over their own military despite increasingly vigorous efforts to do so. Recently there has been an increasing number of rumors, media stories and threatening denials from the military about the current elected government of Pakistan demanding that the military finally submit to civilian control.
In the last three months violence in Indian Kashmir had left nearly a hundred dead and over 13,000 wounded. India blames Pakistan for the sharp increase in separatist and Islamic terrorist activity in Kashmir this year. Pakistan has been sponsoring Islamic terrorism in Indian Kashmir since the 1980s but that approach never succeeded and that became more of an embarrassment for Pakistan. This can be seen in the way terrorism deaths in Kashmir peaked in 2001. By 2011 India had reduced Islamic terrorist related violence in Kashmir by over 95 percent. Despite that Pakistan kept recruiting, training and sending Islamic terrorists into India without anything to show for it. Seeking an alternative method in the last few years Pakistan has been using cash (to buy more local support) and exploiting social media in an effort to encourage 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) becoming a local celebrity for his largely fictional efforts to make Kashmir an independent state. Then Wani got into a gun battle with police on July 8th and was killed. For an Internet celebrity getting killed unexpectedly can be a great career move, at least in the short term. In Kashmir this led to an outbreak of massive, and often violent protests that have left 78 dead and over 6,000 wounded so far. While alive 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 local replacements came forward. 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. The current increase in violence is fading, in large part because older Kashmiri Moslems know that Pakistan is financing the violence but it is Kashmiri families that are paying the price in lost children, property and employment opportunities. While young Kashmiris have little respect for the past, their elders do.
October 8, 2016: In Bangladesh police conducted two raids on Islamic terrorist hideouts believed connected with the July 1st attack on a popular café in Dhaka that left 20 dead (including 17 foreigners). The information proved correct and eleven Islamic terrorists were killed, including many members of JMB (Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh). While ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) took credit for the July 1 attack those who carried it out belonged to JMB, which 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).
October 7, 2016: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) local tribal separatists used two bombs on the railroad tracks to halt an express train and kill six people and wound 18. The day before soldiers found and disabled bombs placed on another rail line in the same area (outside the provincial capital, Quetta).
In northwest India (Kashmir) Pakistani troops on the border again opened fire with mortars and machine-guns. The Indians returned fire. These incidents have increased in frequency and intensity during 2016.
India announced that it would build a security fence along its entire 2,900 kilometer border with Pakistan and this effort would be completed by the end of 2018. In early 2016 India announced it would expand and upgrade its electronic security fence in the northwest (Kashmir) to cover its entire border with Pakistan but at that time it was believed the entire fence would not be upgraded until the early 2020s and even then not to the same level. The new fence design is called five layer because it uses multiple sensors (vidcams, night vision cameras, thermal imagers, ground surveillance radar, seismic sensors and laser barriers) to provide layers of surveillance that intruders have to penetrate to get into India undetected. All the sensors are linked to control centers which can deploy rapid reaction forces or aerial surveillance as needed. All this will make it still more difficult for Islamic terrorists to get into India.
October 6, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) Indian troops overnight intercepted three groups of Pakistan based Islamic terrorists trying to cross into India. Two groups escaped back into Pakistan when they became aware that they had been spotted. The third group was cornered and all four of them fought to the death. India then publicized the weapons and other military equipment the four men were carrying and pointed out how many of them were of Pakistani origin. Pakistan quickly responded by accusing India of faking the incident and the evidence.
October 4, 2016: India and Bangladesh agreed to more cooperation along their common border to control smuggling and illegal migration. This cooperation began in late 2014 when both countries agreed to put aside past differences and cooperate more closely in fighting Islamic terrorism. While never 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.
October 2, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) Islamic terrorists attacked a border guard base. The night attack failed with two Islamic terrorists and one policeman killed.
October 1, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) there were 47 terrorism related deaths in September, about twice as many as a year ago. For 2016 such violence is up about 30 percent in Kashmir. Despite this increase communist (Maoist) rebels in eastern India continues to be the largest source of terrorism related violence. The Maoists are a strictly internal matter and have been declining as well.
September 29, 2016:
Indian, Afghan and Iranian officials met in India to begin the process of speeding up the completion of the new trade route though Iran. The will free India and Afghanistan from dependence on Pakistan for a trade route and will also open up Central Asian markets for everyone since the new rail and road network goes from the northern border of Afghanistan to an enlarged Iranian port on the Indian Ocean. Everyone involved, except Pakistan and its ally China, is enthusiastic about this economic development project.
What got this project going was Pakistan becoming more hostile to Afghanistan and India and part of that meant making it increasingly difficult for landlocked Afghanistan to use Pakistani roads and ports to access the rest of the world. That led to years of negotiations and planning to create an alternate route via Iran. In early 2016 India, Afghanistan and Iran agreed on all financing, customs and access details required make the project a reality. This route will enable foreign cargo delivered to the port of Chabahar (in southeastern Iran) to enter Afghanistan by rail or road without any additional tax problems or other restrictions. Iran and India are building the 1,300 kilometer long rail line from the port to the Afghan border (near Herat) in the north. Ultimately the Indians will provide over two billions dollars’ worth of investments for this project. That includes work on the port and new roads and railroads to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Because of the 2015 treaty that lifted economic sanctions on Iran India was able to legally become a major investor. This project obviously helps Afghanistan but also hurts Pakistan, which currently monopolizes the movement of most Afghan imports and exports. This new agreement means a lot for India because will make possible Indian trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, something long blocked by Pakistan. The Chabahar route was originally set to be operational by 2020 but now the three nations want to get some access a year or two earlier than planned. At the same time Iran has expressed interest in linking with the new Chinese funded rail link from China to the Pakistani coast.
September 28, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) Indian commandos crossed the border at night on foot after helicopters landed them at the Indian side. The commandos went after seven locations (all 500-2,000 meters inside Pakistan) where Islamic terrorists were known to assemble before trying to sneak across the border. The commandos found Islamic terrorists at most of these locations and attacked and then quickly retreated back to India before Pakistan could bring in reinforcements. India reported that 38 Islamic terrorists and two Pakistani soldiers killed. Apparently five of the dead were Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan denied the attack took place, although some Pakistanis (military and civilian) in the area did reveal some confirmation. The operation took place in a remote part of the border between midnight and 4 AM. There have been three similar raids in the past but this was the first one India took credit for.
September 27, 2016: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) Iranian border guards fired three mortar shells at what appeared to be Baluchi Islamic terrorists across the border in Pakistan. Baluchi Sunni Islamic terrorists who regularly operate in Iran from bases in Pakistan have become a growing problem. Pakistan is under a lot of pressure to do something about it, so the Pakistani government prevented this incident from becoming a major media event.
Afghan and American security officials announced that they agree that Pakistan has not made any effective efforts to end its decade’s long support and control over the Haqqani network.
September 25, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) the curfew was lifted for the entire province.
September 24, 2016:
In northwest Pakistan Islamic terrorists have been trying to operate from bases across the border in Afghanistan, especially Paktia province and that is responsible for most of the violence in eastern Afghanistan. But that is becoming increasingly dangerous as was seen when airstrikes and ground fighting in Paktia today killed at least eleven al Qaeda, Haqqani network, and Pakistani Taliban. This included Raees Khan Mehsud, a leader of major faction of the Pakistani Taliban. For the last few months the U.S. and Afghanistan have concentrated on clearing Islamic terrorist groups out of eastern Afghanistan. The information obtained from dead or captured members of these groups has led Afghanistan and the United States to put more pressure on Pakistan to cooperate by halting its practice of supporting groups like the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani. Pakistan had promised to share information it had about these groups with the Americans and Afghans but this is apparently done very discreetly because Pakistan still supports some Islamic terrorist groups and does not want to scare off these useful allies.
September 23, 2016: India finally signed a contract for 36 Rafale fighter jets from France with an option to buy 18 more in three years. This deal has been pending since 2012 when Rafale won a competition to be the new India medium fighter aircraft. Since then negotiations have been difficult. The two main sticking points during the final negotiations were Rafale’s rising price tag (because the talks dragged on for so long) and whether India will be able to produce the fighter domestically. India insists on coproduction (some Rafale manufacturing done in India) and the French believed India overestimated its capabilities in handling some of the advanced technologies that go into Rafale. Of course India wants local manufacturers to handle that advanced tech and this is how you learn. But India also wants the French held responsible for the quality of items produced in India. In May it was announced that the remaining issues were resolved were not released, at least not yet. All that is known for sure is that terms were agreed to. But it took five more months of negotiations, mostly among Indian politicians, before there was an agreement to sign. This deal is one of many in the last decade that involved buying Western weapons rather than Russian ones.
In Pakistan 70 Russian special operations troops participated in joint training exercises with Pakistan forces. This is the first such Russian-Pakistani joint exercise and more such cooperation is in the works. Russia was long considered a dangerous enemy of Pakistan. But after 2000, as India grew disenchanted with Russian military equipment and Russia in general, the Russian and Pakistani relationships warmed up. In 2014 Pakistan and Russia signed economic agreements in which Russian banks provided a billion dollars in loans to Pakistan while both countries agreed to cooperate in oil and natural gas exploration and production in Pakistan as well as plans to build pipelines north to Russia via Central Asia. In late 2014 Russia offered to sell Pakistan Mi-35M helicopter gunships and in 2015 Pakistan ordered four of them. These are export versions of the most recent upgrade of the Mi-24. The Pakistani army has been calling for all the helicopter gunships it can get, as these aircraft have proved a key weapon in the battles against Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. The Americans will not provide them because of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism and China does not have the kind of aircraft Pakistan needs. The Russians saw an opportunity and offered helicopter gunships on financial terms Pakistan could afford. The Russian offer came as a surprise. That’s because India has long been the largest export customer for Russian weapons. But India is becoming disillusioned with Russia as a weapons supplier. 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.
September 20, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) Indian troops intercepted two groups of Pakistan based Islamic terrorists trying to cross into India overnight and killed ten of them. One soldier was lost.
September 18, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) four Pakistan based Islamic terrorists attacked an army camp at 4 AM and managed to get in and kill 18 soldiers and wounded another 18. Most of the Indian losses were among soldiers who were still asleep. All four attackers were killed. The attackers seemed to know the layout of the base quite well as they were able to find (apparently with the help of two GPS receivers they carried) two places on the camp perimeter fence that would be easiest to get through (using wire cutters) at night. The four attackers then went straight to the main barracks, quietly locked the doors from outside and then set off fire bombs and quickly had most of the structure burning. It was later discovered that local smugglers, who often get work from Pakistani Islamic terrorists needing guides across the border, had also helped scout the army camp that was attacked. This was a an unusually high death toll for the security forces and puts the total for the year at 61 soldiers and police killed in Kashmir. The last year with a higher total was 2010, when 69 died in Kashmir. That was down from the record high of 638 in 2000. The decline hit a record low of 17 in 2012 and has been getting higher, but not this high, since then.
September 16, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) a suicide bomber attacked a Sunni mosque during weekly prayers and killed 24 and wounded 28. Eventually Jamaat ulAhrar, a dissident faction of the Pakistani Taliban took credit.