India saw a 24 percent increase (to 895) in Islamic terrorism and rebel (communist and tribal) related deaths in 2016. As in the past Islamic terrorism was not the major cause, accounting for 30 percent of the 2016 deaths. But in 2016 Kashmir was the source of all the overall 2016 increase, with deaths there rising from 174 to 267. During 2015 India suffered 722 deaths from terrorism and that was down 26 percent from 2014. In 2015 the biggest source (35 percent of deaths) was communist rebels in eastern India. Islamic terrorism accounted for only 24 percent of deaths in 2015, most of them in Kashmir. This violence has been declining for years while Islamic terrorism in Pakistan only began to shrink after the army attacked a notorious Islamic terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan (on the Afghan border) and cracked down on Islamic terrorists in Karachi. But now that the Pakistani military has reduced Islamic terrorism violence inside Pakistan enough and they have resumed instigating more such violence against India.
As a result Kashmir border violence by Pakistani troops was way up this year, as it was along the entire Indian border. But half the nearly 600 ceasefire border violations in 2016 were in Kashmir. In December 2015 Indian and Pakistani military leaders met on the Kashmir border to reaffirm efforts to reduce violence on the LOC (Line of Control) in Kashmir. Such incidents still occur despite a 20o3 ceasefire. The current LOC negotiations have kept things pretty quiet on the LOC since a September 2015 meeting in which India threatened a major military response to almost daily Pakistani attacks. Apparently convinced (especially by the Indian politicians and media calling for war) this was serious the Pakistanis reduced the border violence although not the efforts to get Islamic terrorists across the LOC and into Kashmir. Because of internal politics in Pakistan the Pakistani army revived the border violence. This is all about the continuing battle between elected Pakistani politicians and the military over the threat from India. The Pakistani generals justify their large budget and numerous other privileges by the need to deal with the Indian threat. But there is no Indian threat. The Pakistani military refuses to accept that and the border erupts once more as the Pakistani generals try to justify their many privileges and powers. This is no longer seen as just a local issue. The Pakistani military is also under growing domestic (by elected Pakistani politicians) and international (especially American) pressure to cease all support for Islamic terrorism but has not shown any indication of changing. For example the new head of the Pakistani military, appointed at the end of 2016, spent much of his career working directly with forces (military and Islamic terrorist) causing violence on the Indian border and in Kashmir.
All Quieter On The Northern Front
Chinese troops still cause problems along the Indian border but the level of such activity has continued declining. They peaked in 2014 at about 500 incidents. That was double what it had been in 2010. But since then the incidents have declined, to 350 in 2015 and 200 in 2016. Most of these border violations have occurred on the border of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. These incidents are not supposed to happen at all because of agreements China and India negotiated in 2013 and 2014. Because of that China claims recent incursions were accidents and point out that their troops leave as soon as India contacts China (per the border agreements) and China is able to contact the border troops involved. Despite fewer incursions since 2014 India continues to move more troops into the area and build facilities to support them. India has built eight military airfields in the sparsely populated border provinces. Each can handle large transports (like the new American C-17s India bought) and has a control tower and room for rapid expansion. China still claims to own Arunachal Pradesh and has always maintained that the 3,500 kilometer long border between India and Chinese Tibet (1,126 of with Arunachal Pradesh) was only temporary. Since 2010 China has been more aggressive about changing it. In 2014 China protested India building roads near the Chinese border in northeastern India. The roads were in an area that 2014 Chinese maps depicted as within China’s borders. 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, and physical, 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.
Pakistan And Terrorism
Pakistan reduced Islamic terrorist activity inside Pakistan for the second year in a row. In 2016 terrorist related deaths were down 51 percent (to 1,803) and experienced the lowest number of terrorism activity since 2006. Pakistan carried out all this counter-terrorism activity mainly in self-defense, to reduce Islamic terrorist activity directed at Pakistan. Such was not the case with Islamic terrorists in Pakistan who leave Pakistanis alone and concentrate they attacks in India, Afghanistan and other foreign targets. The 2014 campaign in North Waziristan has reduced Islamic terrorist activity by two-thirds since 2014. That campaign continues but is supposed to officially end in 2017. Yet Pakistani terrorism related death rates are still much higher than India, a nation with six times the population but half the terrorism (most of it non-Moslem) deaths suffered by Pakistan. In other words, adjusted for population size there is still twelve times as many terrorism deaths in Pakistan.
The military, which tolerates or supports many Islamic terror groups, is under growing pressure to shut down all Islamic terrorists in the country. Many military officers resist that because they believe, for religious or economic reasons that some Islamic terrorists must still be protected (so they can attack India and Afghanistan.) It is getting harder and harder to defend that position. America, India and Afghanistan are leading that effort and Pakistani government denials no longer work at all. American officials have bluntly told the Pakistanis recently that unless all the Islamic terrorists were targeted there would be no resumption of American military aid. The U.S. has provided Pakistan with $33 billion in aid since 2001 and is fed up with Pakistani refusals to shut down Islamic terror groups that operate against Afghanistan and India but not Pakistan.
The official line in Pakistani media controlled (or intimidated) by the military is that Pakistan has suffered greatly from Islamic terrorism instigated by the West. Pakistan has suffered economic losses of over $100 billion from Islamic terrorists since 2002 and more than 50,000 Pakistanis died from that violence. The Pakistan military insists that India is behind most of the Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan and the United States has been stingy (only $14 billion in aid since 2002) in helping Pakistan cope.
In Pakistan a growing number of present and former officials are admitting that Pakistan still supports certain Islamic terrorist groups. The most embarrassing of these sources is former commander of the military and later dictator (via another coup) Pervez Musharraf. He admitted in late 2014 that he started the 1999 Kargil border war with India more for political than military reasons. Musharraf admitted that Pakistan supports, and continues to give sanctuary to Islamic terrorist groups that concentrate all their violence against India. Musharraf insists that this use of irregular warfare is necessary to protect Pakistan from the threat of Indian aggression. Musharraf also confirmed that a lot of the Pakistani military obsession with India as a threat stems from a need 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).
Yet Pakistan remains the primary source of Islamic terrorism in the region. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny this as more and more evidence surfaces. 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.
While China is an ally of Pakistan and is making major investments in Pakistan, China has threatened to cut back if Pakistan does not improve security and is calling for greater international efforts to do the same in Afghanistan (where China has some major projects pending because of security concerns). This is a veiled criticism of Pakistani support of Islamic terrorism. Pakistan is the largest customer for Chinese weapons exports and increasingly dependent on China as a military ally. Yet even China has to deal with the terrorism threat created and sustained by the Pakistani military. All this has fueled the growing struggle within the Pakistani government as the military (and its intel branch, ISI) refuse to consider shutting down the remaining Islamic terrorist sanctuaries.
Bangladesh Breaks Bad
In what used to be the other half of Pakistan (Bangladesh) 2016 has been a bad year for Islamic terrorism. Compared to 2015 Islamic terrorism deaths more than doubled in Bangladesh (going from 64 to 121). Yet compared to Pakistan (with a ten percent larger population) Bangladesh still had only seven percent as many terrorist deaths that took place in Pakistan (1,803 in 2016). The spike in Islamic terrorist activity for Bangladesh this year has been traced back to external sources. The most obvious one was Pakistan but police have concluded that the largest Islamic terrorist attack of 2016 (in July) was also largely triggered by external events. It was initially though that this attack was entirely a local operation by 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. As police interviewed more JMB members it because clear that ISIL was a major factor in making the July attack happen. 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 continued Pakistani hostility towards 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).
Bangladesh is also having a problem with its eastern neighbor Burma as over 22,000 Burmese Moslems have fled to Bangladesh since October. Bangladesh borders Burma’s Rakhine State which contains a lot of Burmese Rohingya Moslems. While Bangladesh has arrested a few Pakistan trained Rohingya Islamic terrorists the Rohingya have largely avoided Islamic terrorism. But in Burma the Rohingya, who trace their origin to Bangladesh, have suffered increased persecution in Burma since the 1980s, and especially since the 2011 Burmese elections that restored democracy. There are already over 200,000 Burmese Rohingya in Burma, most of them illegal migrants.
Today in northwest India (Kashmir) two or three Islamic terrorists attacked an army base briefly with grenades and gunfire. Three civilians were killed but none of the attackers or troops returning fire were injured.
January 7, 2017: Pakistan announced that Raheel Sharif, one of its retired generals, had been selected to lead the IMAFT (Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism). Founded (in late 2015) and largely funded by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan was reluctant to join IMAFT but eventually joined the other 38 members. When Saudi Arabia announced IMAFT in late December 2015 it named 34 Moslem nations (Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, the Palestinians, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE, and Yemen) as members. Indonesia, largest Moslem nation on the planet, was described as considering joining. The nation with the largest number of Moslems, India, was apparently not invited to join. All the current members are largely Sunni. Some nations are not welcome, like Iran, Syria and Iraq. This is because the Sunni Gulf States (led by Saudi Arabia) are at war with Iran, which considers Syria and Iraq allies. Pakistan has not announced exactly what it would do as part of this new coalition but did make it clear it will not take part in any operations against Iran or Syria.
In northwest Pakistan, just across the border in Afghanistan two Haqqani Network Islamic terrorist leaders from Pakistan were killed by Afghan security forces. The two leaders, Omran Khan and Shaheen, were well known and positively identified. Two other Haqqani members were killed as well.
January 6, 2017: Pakistan gave the UN evidence of Indian complicity in backing terrorism in Pakistan. Evidence like this has been presented before and it never withstands much scrutiny.
In Bangladesh police raided a location near the capital and killed two JMB members. One of the dead was identified as Nurul Islam Marzan, the man responsible for planning the July 2016 attack that left 20 dead, most of them foreigners.
January 5, 2017: In northwest India (Kashmir) security forces clashed with Muzzaffar Ahmad, a local Islamic terrorist leader, and killed him after a brief gun battle. Ahmad is the first Islamic terrorist to be killed in Kashmir this year and the longest serving Islamic terrorist leader in Kashmir. In 2016, 87 security forces personnel and 165 were killed in Kashmir. The increase during 2016 was due to the death of Burhan Wani in July.
January 2, 2017: In northwest India (Punjab) at least six Pakistani Islamic terrorists attacked the Pathankot air base in an operation that lasted four days and left six Islamic terrorists, seven security personnel and one civilian dead. There may have been more than six attackers but by the 5th it appeared that there were no more active Islamic terrorists in or near the base. The base is 30 kilometers from the Pakistani border and the houses over 10,000 people, mainly families of the military personnel on the base. The intelligence and security forces were criticized for ignoring warnings that this attack was coming. Pakistan was criticized for supporting the group based in Pakistan that obviously organized the attack. The most obvious proof was cell phone calls the attackers made back to Pakistan during the operation. The security forces at the base got credit for quickly adjusting to the attack and preventing any damage to the aircraft, key installations or civilians on the base.
December 30, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) Pakistani troops again opened fire on border posts. One civilian was killed. This was the first such attack since the 16th.
December 28, 2016: In Pakistan the fourth nuclear power plant became operational. Built with Chinese tech, assistance and financing, Pakistan invited China to participate in building more of these plants. Western firms won’t build nuclear power plants in Pakistan because of Pakistani use of those plants for its nuclear weapons program. China is not bothered by that and that’s a major reason Pakistan favors China as a patron and ally.
December 27, 2016: Pakistan, Russia and China officials met in Russia to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan. China and Russia agreed to try and get UN sanctions against the Taliban lifted in order to encourage the Taliban to enter peace talks with Afghanistan. The U.S. had earlier revealed evidence of the Taliban getting some help (sanctuary, diplomatic support and information) from Iran and Russia in return for assistance in keeping ISIL out of Iran and Russia. Afghanistan accuses Russia and China of cooperating with Pakistan is trying to control Afghanistan via the Taliban (which was created by Pakistan in the 1990s for just that purpose). Afghanistan accuses Iran of secretly working with the Taliban when it will help keep Islamic terrorists out of Iran. Russia has also come out in support of the Chinese financed rail link between China and the Indian Ocean via Pakistan and new port facilities (and a Chinese naval base) on the Pakistani coast. India sides with the U.S. in criticizing China for blocking UN sanctions against some Islamic terrorist leaders who have proved useful to China. Afghan politicians openly accuse Saudi Arabia and Iran of supporting Islamic terrorists when it is in their interests, even if it means problems for other countries, like Afghanistan. Russia admits such links and points out that to fight terrorists you often have to cooperate with some of them.
December 22, 2016: Afghanistan accused Pakistan of resuming the shelling of Afghan territory in eastern (Kunar provinces) and southern (Helmand province) Afghanistan. Although most of the shells landed in remote areas they still manage to kill or wound some people, usually innocent civilians. These rocket, mortar and artillery attacks from Pakistan have been particularly heavy in 2013 and 2014 but happened much left frequently after a new Afghan government joined the U.S. to call out the Pakistanis on these attacks. Pakistan usually refuses to admit they are even happening but because of the 2015 cooperation deal (mainly to deal with Islamic terrorists hostile to everyone) Pakistan became more receptive to these complaints.
December 19, 2016: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) just across the border in Iran a car bomb killed an IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) officer and wounded one of his subordinates. Baluchi Sunni Islamic terrorists were believed behind this and those responsible for this attack apparently fled back across the border in Pakistan. These Iranian Baluchi separatists regularly operate in Iran from bases in Pakistan and have become a growing problem for both countries. Pakistan is under a lot of pressure to do something about it, so the Pakistani government at least goes through the motions of responding to each incident.
December 13, 2016: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) the navy officially established Task Force 88 in coastal Gwadar, a city of 100,000 and site of one of the biggest construction projects in the country. The new naval task force will use warships, maritime patrol aircraft and UAVs to guard the coastal areas from any Islamic terrorist attack against ships, especially Chinese ones. Pakistan has assured China that there would be no terrorist violence against Chinese working on upgrading the port of Gwadar and land links north to China. This is a key part of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This project began in 2013 when China agreed to spend $18 billion to build a road from Gwadar into northwest China. This will require drilling long tunnels through the Himalayan Mountains on the border (in Pakistani controlled Kashmir.) The road and a natural gas pipeline are part of the larger CPEC project. 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. The thousands of Chinese coming into Pakistan for this project will be prime targets for Islamic terrorists and tribal separatists in Baluchistan. The people in Gwadar will benefit greatly from the construction and the expanded port. Because of that Pakistan has formed a special security forces, currently 20,000 strong, dedicated to keeping the foreign (mainly Chinese) workforce safe.
December 10, 2016: India is eliminating the monopoly the state owned Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) has long had for producing ammunition. This change has been long sought. There are several sound reasons for the change. Civilian firms have long demonstrated that the ammo can be made cheaper, of higher quality and faster if state owned manufacturing is not involved.