India-Pakistan: The Bride Price

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December 10, 2019: One way to measure the effectiveness of governments and the societies they represent is the Human Development Index the UN has compiled for 29 years. The index ranks all the world nations in terms of how well they do in terms of life expectancy, education and income. In 2019 India was 129th out of 189 nations while Pakistan was 152 nd and Bangladesh 135. The top ten nations are Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Singapore and Netherlands. The bottom ten are Mozambique at 180th place (there are a lot of ties) followed by Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Mali, Burundi, South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic and in the last place, Niger. Other notable nations are the United States at 15 (tied with Britain), Russia at 49, China 89, Israel 22 (tied with South Korea), Saudi Arabia 36, Iran 65, Afghanistan 170, Venezuela 96, Colombia 79 and Mexico 76. North Korea is not ranked because not enough reliable data is available on the population or economy.

These rankings put Pakistan’s problems into perspective. Corruption and mismanagement have hurt the economy, the education system and health (life expectancy). Adopting Islamic terrorism as a state policy in the 1980s and trying to keep it secret continues to damage all aspects of Pakistani life. Allowing the military to achieve a dominant position in the country entrenched corruption and hampered reform efforts. India and Pakistan started out on relatively equal footing when they were created in the late 1940s. It was downhill for Pakistan after that. Part of Pakistan (Bangladesh) seceded in the 1970s and has been improving its condition since then and is now in better shape than Pakistan.

To make matters worse Pakistan has had nuclear weapons since 1999 and the military controls them. Still worse there are a growing number of generals who are true believers in Islamic radicalism, and some have even joined Islamic terror groups after retiring. These true believers are a minority in the military leadership but that fact that they exist and the fact that Pakistan was able to build nuclear weapons via corrupt practices, and then secretly offer some of the tech for sale, makes a lot of people inside and outside Pakistan nervous. Creating and maintaining the nukes comes at the expense of Pakistan’s ranking on the Human Development Index.

Pakistan has reduced domestic Islamic terrorist activity inside for the fifth year in a row. This year terrorist deaths will be down 35 percent from 2018 when there were 694. In 2017 terrorism-related deaths were down 30 percent (to 1,260), another record low. They declined 51 percent (to 1,803) in 2016 and that was the lowest number for terrorist activity since 2006. Pakistan carried out all this counter-terrorism activity mainly in self-defense, to reduce Islamic terrorist activity directed at Pakistan. This was a side effect of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorists since the 1970s followed by some of those groups making war on Pakistan. That sort of thing has been much reduced since 2014.

Such was not the case with Islamic terrorists in Pakistan who leave Pakistanis alone and concentrate their attacks in India, Afghanistan and other foreign targets designated by the Pakistani military. The 2014 campaign in North Waziristan has reduced Islamic terrorist activity by over 90 percent since 2014. That campaign continues but was 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 nearly twice as many terrorism-related (most of it non-Moslem) deaths. In other words, adjusted for population size there are still three times as many terrorism deaths in Pakistan. Moreover, a lot of the terrorism-related deaths in India and Afghanistan are a direct result of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorist organizations that are based in and supported by Pakistan. These groups enjoy Pakistani support as long as they attack targets designated by the ISI (Pakistani military intelligence). Pakistan is currently under major diplomatic and financial pressure over this terrorism-support policy which Pakistan still denies.

India has brought most of its separatist, leftist and Islamic terrorist activity under control. But in Kashmir Pakistani is still waging a border war by having its troops fire across the border and claim it is self-defense because the Indians almost always fire back. Then there are three decades of Pakistani support for Islamic terrorism in Kashmir, which has not accomplished much except to ruin the local economy and get a lot of Kashmiris, and Islamic terrorists from Pakistan, killed.

Taliban

Pakistan continues to “sponsor” peace talks between the Americans and the Afghan Taliban. The latest round of talks just began in Qatar. Since September these talks have been canceled twice, and then revived. The problem is that the Americans keep encountering situations where the Afghan Taliban demonstrate they cannot be trusted and demand a ceasefire before there could be more progress. The Americans would like similar assurances from Pakistan but that is not happening. There was much evidence of Taliban and Pakistani misbehavior and unreliability. Even the UN openly agrees with this as do most nations in the region.

The increased Afghan Taliban use of violence, especially against civilians, was due to the increased influence of the Haqqani Network. In fact, the Afghan Taliban are now run by the leaders of the Haqqani Network despite a non-Haqqani figurehead leader. Haqqani is another 1990s era Afghan fighting faction that is more gangster than Islamic terrorist and has long been a subsidiary of the Pakistani military and intelligence (the ISI). Haqqani is the main conduit for getting Islamic terrorists and their weapons (including large vehicle bombs) into Afghanistan. Haqqani and the pro-Pakistan Afghan Taliban still have sanctuaries in Pakistan, something that the Pakistani military denies but it is not hidden in Pakistan and is something of an open secret.

The new (since late 2018) Haqqani Network leader Siraj Haqqani is not only more aggressive, he has also provided the ISI with better control over the Afghan Taliban. Siraj Haqqani not only dominates the Taliban leadership while also maintaining his lucrative crime boss subservience to ISI. Because the Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani (who died in late 2018) helped Taliban founder 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 deal with the mid-2015 power struggle within the Taliban and thwart the recruiting efforts of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). Given that Haqqani works for ISI (the Pakistani CIA), Pakistan had to approve, if not help bring about this new Taliban leadership arrangement. There are still divisions within the Taliban but the Haqqani leaders have been able to limit the damage while also making themselves wealthier. That means a lot of infighting between Taliban factions is tolerated as long as it does not interfere with business (mainly drugs and whatever else the ISI wants).

December 6, 2019: In Pakistan, a crowd of protestors, for the second time in the last eight days, appeared before the offices of the Dawn newspaper and demanded editors and writers be hanged for reporting that British police revealed that the recent Islamic terrorist attack in Britain was carried out by a man of “Pakistani origin” who had recently served a prison term for Islamic terror activities. Reporting these British “opinions” is considered by Islamic radicals to be offensive and anti-Islam and therefore punishable by death. Such accusations are common in Pakistan where the military has, since the 1980s, adopted Islamic terrorism as a covert weapon against enemies inside Pakistan as well as in neighboring countries. Officially the military denies this but it has been around for so long and so blatant that is has become an open secret. No group took responsibility for these Dawn protests but that is another tactic the military uses. This year the military escalated its use of coercion against “uncooperative” Pakistani media.

The Dawn newspaper is quite popular and has an English language edition that is popular in the West and India. This year Dawn has been under attack frequently. Earlier in the year, there was an effort to block the distribution of the Dawn newspaper because Dawn printed an interview with a former prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) who admitted that the 2008 Islamic terror attacks on India in Mumbai were the work of a Pakistan based Islamic terrorist group that has long, and still does, receive support and sanctuary by the Pakistani military. The military also sought to suppress news of a recent book by Asad Durrani, a former (1990-92) head of ISI that was written with a former head of RAW, the Indian equivalent of ISI. These two intel experts compare perspectives and it does not look good for the Pakistani military. As a result Durrani was barred from leaving the country for any reason. Durrani and Sharif are but the latest (and among the most senior) Pakistani insiders to go public with details of how the Pakistani military operates. The military wants to minimize the damage these “traitors” inflict on the reputation and credibility of the military. A growing number of Pakistanis believe it is too late for that.

Dawn continued to report on that Sharif interview, the book and the reaction of readers inside Pakistan and worldwide. Details of the 2008 Mumbai attack are well documented and widely accepted worldwide and were included book Dawn gave a lot of attention to. But to discuss this in inside Pakistan can get you into trouble. Sometimes fatal trouble. Dawn is the oldest and most read English language newspaper in Pakistan. The military had suspended distribution of Dawn in areas that the military controls (because of military bases, military operations or because the military controls much of the local economy.) This sort of thing backfires because the military cannot control the Internet and as the news gets through anyway people eagerly seek it out and embrace it. Among those embracing this news are many Pushtuns in the northwest who are openly blaming the military for all the Islamic terrorism and chaos in the Afghan border areas where most Pushtun live.

December 5, 2019: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) troops clashed with Pakistani Taliban Islamic terrorists and killed four of them. One soldier was killed and three wounded. Despite occasional clashes like this, Pakistan reduced Islamic terrorist activity inside Pakistan for the fifth year in a row.

December 4, 2019: In Pakistan, there is another scandal involving government-backed corruption employed to avoid offending China. The government has taken extreme measures to suppress news of a major Chinese operation to lure Pakistan women to China where they are forcibly married to Chinese men. The Chinese bachelors pay up to $60,000 to gangs that recruit women in Pakistan for jobs in China. There are no jobs because when the women get to China they are forced to marry Chinese men. Those who refuse are sold off as prostitutes or to organ brokers who murder the women for salable organs for transplants. In some cases, the gangs can purchase teenage daughters of poor parents who see the one or two thousand dollars received as worth it. The Pakistani investigators and journalists who did the research collected the names of 629 victims, had trouble getting the story published in Pakistan so passed it on to Western media where it recently appeared. This caused outrage in Pakistan, which came in the aftermath of 31 Chinese men being acquitted of charges they were running such a “marriage bureau.” All the witnesses in the case suddenly refused to testify or had disappeared. This all began in May when Pakistani police arrested 31 Chinese men and accused them of enticing or kidnaping Pakistani women to China and sell them to Chinese men to be wives. There a growing shortage of Chinese women in China that has created a market for young foreign women. China's "one child" policy of the last few decades, and the ability to determine the sex of the child before birth led to more (20 percent more) boys than girls being born in China. The lack of potential brides means desperate Chinese men are willing to buy a kidnapped girl from Pakistan (or anywhere else). This crime has become common in most nations neighboring China.

December 2, 2019: India has agreed to join with Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand to cooperate in maintaining security in the Bay of Bengal. This maritime zone is frequently used by smugglers and other criminals traveling across the Bay to nations bordering it.

December 1, 2019: In Pakistan, about 250 university students held a demonstration to protest the ban on political activity at universities and especially the 1984 ban on student unions. All the protestors were arrested and charged with treason for using chants accusing the government and the military of bad behavior.

November 30, 2019: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan all showed up in the top ten of the 2019 GTI (Global Terrorism Index), which counts all forms of terrorism. The top ten were Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, Philippines, and Congo. India, Philippines, Yemen and Congo all have Islamic terrorism accounting for a minority of the deaths. Worldwide terrorism deaths declined 15 percent to 15,952. This decline is, so far, a four year trend.

November 22, 2019: The number of Afghans returning from Iran has accelerated this year because of the growing poverty and public protests in Iran. So far this year nearly 400,000 have returned. About 60 percent of those returning were illegal migrants in Iran. Another 50,000 returned from Turkey and Pakistan. Over a million Afghans returned in 2018, mainly from Pakistan. This year Iran is the most frequently fled from exile for Afghans. Iran has always been a more hostile host for Afghan refugees than Pakistan because there are twice as many Pushtuns in Pakistan than in Afghanistan and Pushtuns are the largest minority (about 40 percent) in Afghanistan. Iran is a much less familiar place for Afghans and the Iranians constantly remind Afghans of that.

November 20, 2019: Afghanistan declared western Afghanistan (Nangarhar province) free of ISIL. This came after 243 ISIL gunmen, along with 625 women and children, surrendered to the government. This did not come as a surprise as ISIL operations in Afghanistan have been under heavy attack by the government, American, Taliban, local tribal, Pakistani and al Qaeda forces for several years. In the last year, ISIL lost its last strongholds in the north (Jawzjan province). The Americans believe that ISIL in Jawzjan is no longer an organized force and that the remaining ISIL members are still being hunted by the security forces as well as the Taliban. The ISIL forces in Nangarhar province remained active and largely intact until early 2019 when the pressure increased and heavy casualties were suffered. In addition, more and more ISIL members surrendered and that led to the mass surrender, to avoid a massacre by the Taliban. Mass murder is a tactic both Taliban and ISIL used on each other in the north. Pakistan has warned ISIL that they would face similar lethal pressure if they tried to establish themselves in neighboring Pakistan. Most of the ISIL members in eastern Afghanistan were Pakistani. In some cases, the Afghans sent bodies of dead Pakistani ISIL members back to their families just across the border in Pakistan. According to Afghan custom, this was the right thing to do. But it also embarrassed the Pakistani government by publicizing the fact that so many Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan were from Pakistan. That has long been the case.

November 14, 2019: In Pakistan (Punjab province), police arrested two members of ISIL and seized bomb-making materials. The government had been claiming that there was no ISIL presence in Pakistan. At the same time the Punjab police boast of having detected and destroyed 28 ISIL cells in the last two years and arrested or killed over a hundred ISIL members. ISIL has not been able to establish itself in Pakistan or India because there is not enough local support, or indifference for ISIL cells to operate undetected. Afghanistan has plenty of thinly populated rural areas where ISIL could, until recently, establish a presence. Except among some Arab populations, ISIL has very little popular appeal. The “caliphate” (a legendary Islamic empire) was always mainly an Arab thing and for that reason has little appeal to non-Arab Moslems who comprise the majority of Moslems.

November 13, 2019: In Pakistan, the capital protestors who have been in the city since late October admitted defeat in their effort to force the prime minister to resign because of their presence. The protestors withdrew from the capital and said they would try blocking main roads all over the country in a continuing effort to bring down the current government. The capital had been occupied by 0ver 20,000 men organized by the Islamic conservative Jamiat Ulema e Islam party. The protestors demanded the resignation of the prime minister and new elections. Another issue is the government austerity measures and the belief that the prime minister was elected only because of military support. The austerity measures include new taxes the IMF International Monetary Fund) insisted on before it would loan the government more money needed to prevent an economic catastrophe in Pakistan.

The Islamic parties are staunchly anti-corruption and note that the government efforts to comply with IMF demands and collect more taxes did not include eliminating the widespread tax-evasion among the wealthiest families, many of them associated with the military. The Islamic parties also want to restrict activities and economic opportunities for women and non-Moslems. This limits the appeal of the Islamic parties because many Moslems see them one short step away from Islamic terrorists. Among the groups displaying their banners at these protests was the Afghan Taliban, which enjoys sanctuary in southwest Pakistan. The government and protest leaders agreed that displaying Taliban banners was not acceptable and some of those responsible were arrested. This does show the extent of enthusiasm many of the demonstrators have for Islamic extremism.

These Islamic party protestors had met with government officials beforehand to agree on ground rules for this massive invasion of the capital. The protestors were not supposed to disrupt government or economic operations and in return, there would be no police violence. The protestors would also be allocated areas to camp for several days the demonstrations would take place. By the weekend this all began to collapse. The protestors demanded that the prime minister resign by November 4th and refused to behave according to the earlier agreement. The army said they continued to back the prime minister, whom they openly helped elect despite official denials.

In Afghanistan (Kabul) a car bomb was used against a foreign security company that protected Indian operations in Afghanistan. The explosion killed twelve and wounded at least 20 others, most of them civilians. Four foreigners were among the dead.

 

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India-Pakistan: Current 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


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