The Pakistani Army is being criticized for not capturing any of the major Islamic terrorist leaders during their yearlong campaign in North Waziristan. There are failures, like over a million refugees, driven out of the area to deny the Islamic terrorists the ability to hide among them and still waiting to go home. The U.S. comes right out and accuses Pakistan of ignoring Islamic terror groups that concentrate their attacks on India. The largest of these groups is Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) which is very popular among middle and upper class high school and college students. LeT was organized and long supported by the Pakistani military, mainly to organize and carry out terrorist attacks in India. This is widely known in Pakistan where few people will dare criticize the attacks inside India. Also spared in the offensive was Haqqani Network, which specializes in attacks inside Afghanistan.
The U.S. agrees that the offensive in northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) has done serious damage to the Pakistani Taliban with over 2,700 Islamic terrorists killed and much equipment (including 253 tons of explosives and other bomb making components) eliminated. The U.S., and many others, also point out that the government has not yet cracked down on Islamic terrorist recruiting in the 13,000 religious schools and their 1.8 million students. In the tribal northwest most of the religious schools are sponsored or run by an Islamic terror groups. Many of the radical mosques and religious schools in non-tribal Pakistan are not associated with the Taliban or al Qaeda, but with local Islamic radical groups. About twenty percent of Pakistanis support Islamic radicalism and resist efforts to monitor or regulate religious schools. This provides Islamic terrorists with friends in the government and a political voice amidst all the mayhem Islamic terrorist violence creates.
The army recently provided more accurate data on their own losses and admitted that the troop losses were actually 347, not the “about 200” number they had been using. The new admission came, in part, because it was not possible to keep the true losses a secret forever. The death of a soldier is not a secret and enterprising journalists (and others) have been collecting such data and threatening to embarrass the military with the true number of military deaths. The army losses are still low compared to previous large-scale operations against the Pushtun tribes. This is largely the result of new tactics, training and equipment (helicopter gunships, F-16s using smart bombs). In this case the tribesmen where outsmarted and outfought. The army found and captured or destroyed 837 Islamic terrorist buildings or hideouts (fortifications, often using caves). Many of these were built to be easily defended but the new weapons and tactics allowed the troops to take these places, and killing most of the defenders with minimal casualties to the attackers.
Despite the sharp fall in Islamic terrorist violence throughout Pakistan since the North Waziristan offensive began in June 2014 most of the decline has been in the northwest. For example in May there were 162 incidents of terrorist (not all Islamic) violence nationwide leaving 311 dead and three kidnapped. This was an increase of 33 percent over April terrorist activities. Over 500 suspects were arrested in May. In the last year there have been fewer large scale terror attacks on military and government targets, especially in the northwestern tribal territories. But there has been more small scale Islamic terrorism in other parts of the country, especially Baluchistan and Karachi.
Existing Islamic terror groups in Pakistan (especially the Taliban) have again openly warned ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) to stay out of Pakistan. Earlier in the year the local branch of ISIL announced it was setting up its headquarters in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) and planning operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. At first there were some fatal clashes between ISIL and other Islamic terrorists in the Pakistani tribal territories but that has since declined. ISIL obtained most of its local recruits from the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and released a video showing a former leader of a Pakistan Islamic terrorist faction now becoming a leader of the Pakistani branch of ISIL. More were expected to follow but few did. For the hard core Islamic terrorist ISIL is the way to go but there were not that many hard core Islamic terrorists or supporters left in Pakistan. Moreover the international reputation of ISIL does not appeal to South Asians as much as it does to those in the Middle East. ISIL soon found Baluchistan to be a hostile environment. The local tribes are hostile to the government, but for political not religious reasons. In fact these tribal rebels are not friendly to Islamic terror groups in general and that could cause problems for an ultra-hard core group like ISIL.
For the first time in nearly a decade Islamic terror incidents are down in Pakistan. This comes after Islamic terrorism violence sharply increased after the Pakistani Taliban was formed in 2007 (via a coalition of existing Islamic terrorist groups). The recent operations in North Waziristan have led some Pakistani terrorist factions to announce they are renouncing violence and turning to political activity to achieve their goals. There are already a lot of Islamic radical political parties in Pakistan and they are a major force in parliament and local politics. These have prevented similar crackdowns on Islamic terror groups elsewhere in Pakistan. But while ISIL has declared war on the Taliban (and other Islamic terror groups) they see as sell-outs and reactionary Islamic radical pretenders, this effort is not getting much traction. Yet many Pakistanis are still not willing to eliminate all Islamic terror groups.
Despite the decline Pakistan and India remain on the list of the top ten nations in terms of their "Terrorism Risk". For most of the last decade this list has included Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, India, Algeria, Colombia, and Thailand. More important is the fact that in most of these places the risk is confined to small parts of the countries. In Algeria it’s the eastern coastal mountains. Some (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia) countries have long suffered high numbers (several thousand a year) of terrorism related deaths. The major factor for the ranking is the amount of terrorism mayhem going on in the nation. For example Lebanon didn't suffer that many deaths, but it's potential for large scale terrorism grew because of the thousands of rockets, and other weapons, Iran has shipped in to its proxy; Hezbollah. India has several terrorist groups operating, most of them non-Moslem, and the resulting violence led to over a thousand deaths in 2014. Then again, that's in a nation of over a billion people (Iraq has 25 million). What keeps India on this list is not Islamic terrorism but leftist and separatist groups seeking to impose a communist government or, in the case of the tribal separatists, create new states in the tribal northeast or at least gain greater autonomy. While the Maoist related violence is declining in 2015 the separatist groups have been more active. Still Pakistan continues to generate more than three times as many terrorism related casualties each week than India (which has six times the population.) Adjusted for population, Pakistan has long had 15-20 times more violence per capita. In Pakistan, it's not just al Qaeda and Taliban, but many other religious and political factions killing each other. For India, part of the terror related violence is from Pakistan (regularly showing up in Kashmir, less frequently in Indian cities). But most is because of tribal rebels in the northeast and communist rebels in eastern India.
One major beneficiary of the North Waziristan campaign has been the effort to eliminate polio in the region. So far this year polio cases In Pakistan are down 70 percent (to 24) compared to 2014 and that’s mainly because there have been fewer Islamic terrorist attacks on vaccination teams, especially in the northwest. Such attacks still occur throughout the country but with less frequency and impact. For years these attacks killed polio vaccination workers who were treating children. Vaccinations had to be halted temporarily so police could search for the killers and determine when it was safe to resume. These killing usually occur in the tribal territories, where opposition to vaccination is more widespread and effective. This has led to a large number of polio cases (303 in 2014, the highest since 1998), mostly in the tribal areas. Among the refugees from the North Waziristan fighting are over 200,000 children who have never been vaccinated. Some of those refugees fled to Karachi where over a million people from the tribal areas have settled in the last decade. Some 80 percent of recent polio cases in Pakistan still occur in the tribal territories of the northwest. Now the vaccination teams are able to vaccinate most of the North Waziristan children in safety in the refugee camps and in relative safety in Waziristan. This reduced the expected high number of polio cases for 2015 and makes the total elimination of polio a possibility once more. The Taliban, and many other Islamic terrorist groups believe polio vaccinations are a Western plot to poison Moslem children. Since 2012 67 polio vaccination workers in Pakistan have been killed by Islamic terrorists.
June 22, 2015: At the UN China vetoed an Indian proposal that Pakistan be sanctioned for refusing to arrest and prosecute Islamic terrorists involved in the 2011 Mumbai terrorist attack. India has plenty of evidence but Pakistan continues to protect Islamic terror groups that only attack other nations (mainly India and Afghanistan). Now Pakistan owes China big time because of this use of their veto to block a justified sanctions request.
June 21, 2015: In northwest India (Kashmir) troops raided a village, based on a tip, to capture two Islamic terrorists hiding there. The two Islamic terrorists died as did a nearby civilian.
April 20, 2015: After years of trying Pakistan found its first export orders for its JF-17 jet fighter (which is largely Chinese). The customer is Sri Lanka and the order is supposed to be for at least 18 aircraft and at a very attractive price. Previous efforts to export the JF-17 failed because the aircraft was not considered competitive by potential customers. Earlier this year Pakistan ordered another fifty JF-17 jet fighters, to be delivered by 2018. The first Pakistani JF-17 squadron became operational in 2010. Pakistan has already received sixty JF-17s as part of a project that began in 1992 and while it was a joint Pakistan-China development project China supplied most of the money and did most of the work. China, however, does not use the JF-17, only Pakistan. That’s largely because the JF-17 is assembled in Pakistan, although over 40 percent of the components come from China or Russia. The project has gone through several name changes (FC-1, Super 7). The 13 ton warplane is meant to be a low cost ($20-30 million) alternative to the American F-16. The JF-17 is considered the equal to earlier versions of the F-16, but only half as effective as more recent F-16 models. The JF-17 uses the same Russian engine, the RD-93 that is used in the MiG-29. The JF-17 design is based on a cancelled Russian project, the MiG-33. Most of the JF-17 electronics are Western. The JF-17 can carry 3.6 tons of weapons and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It has max speed of Mach 1.6, an operating range of 1,300 kilometers and a max altitude of 17,000 meters (55,000 feet).
June 18, 2015: After months of negotiations Russia and Pakistan have settled on the terms of the sale of four Mi-35M helicopter gunships. This is the export version of the most recent upgrade of the Mi-24. Back in late 2014 Russia agreed to sell Pakistan up to twenty Mi-35s. 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 government, however is short of cash at the moment. The Russians are not known for offering generous credit terms like they did in the Cold War, but deals can be made if the long term benefit is attractive enough. The Russian offer to sell Pakistan weapons 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.
June 16, 2015: In northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border Pakistani medics responded to a call from Afghan troops to provide emergency aid for an Afghan soldier badly wounded in a battle with Islamic terrorists just across the border. Pakistan and Afghan have a new agreement to coordinate military operations near the border so the Afghan commanders were in touch with their Pakistani counterparts because this fighting (within a kilometer of the border) might result in bullets or explosives landing in Pakistan. In this case the Pakistanis quickly sent a medical team 600 meters into Afghanistan and treated the Afghan soldier. This incident got lots of publicity on both sides of the border because it was a rare incidence of good will between the two countries, which since 2001 have tended towards violence and harsh rhetoric when it came to what happened on the border.
June 12, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber) a bomb in a pushcart killed one person and wounded six others. The bomb was placed near the main crossing with Afghanistan.
June 11, 2015: In Kashmir Pakistani troops again violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement by firing on Indian troops across the LOC (Line of Control) with machine-guns and mortars. This happened nearly 700 times since June 2014, leaving 24 Indians dead, 16 of them civilians. There have been nearly 200 of these incidents so far in 2015. Pakistan has suffered more casualties because many of these attacks were to provide a distraction so that Islamic terrorists based and trained in Pakistan could sneak into India. There is another reason for these unprovoked attacks as they are apparently an important part of an effort to keep the Pakistani Army “India is preparing to attack us” conspiracy theory alive. The official Pakistani Army position is that India starts these incidents by firing first but there is little evidence of that and even the Pakistani government is at a loss as to why their military continues to allow these incidents to happen. Meanwhile the Pakistanis will claim that any Indian return fire was “unprovoked”, especially if any Pakistani civilians (which the Pakistani army does not seem too concerned about) are killed by the return fire. Pakistani generals believe India can’t really do anything because of the risk of nuclear war. But more and more Indians are turning that around and theorizing that if Indian troops crossed the LOC and seized the Pakistani half of Kashmir and all those Islamic terrorist bases they could at least get Pakistan to agree to shut down their “good” (only attack India) Islamic terror groups. The Indians believe the Pakistanis would not start a nuclear war over this and that sort of talk showing up in Indian media with increasing frequency has got Pakistani leaders concerned.
June 8, 2015: Speaking of cross border retaliation, in northeast India a team of about twenty Indian commandos crossed into Burma and in the space of a few hours attacked two separatist rebel camps and killed twenty of the separatists and wounded another 30. This unusual attack was in response to a June 4th ambush in the same area where these rebels ambushed Indian army vehicles and killed 18 soldiers. Burma was not happy with this cross-border operation but a year ago Burma agreed to attack camps of Indian rebel groups in northwest Burma. This would involve the use of information about the Indian rebels supplied by Indian military intelligence. This included precise locations and other data. It was agreed that no Indian forces would operate inside Burma. But the agreement has not really worked. For over a year India tried to convince Burma to shut down Indian rebel (Maoists and tribal separatist) camps in Burma. The Burmese were reluctant to get involved because the Indian rebels were heavily armed, behaved themselves in Burma and spent money in Burma as well. Some of the money was bribes for local police and soldiers to keep their distance. India offered more trade and infrastructure (cross border roads) deals as well as military assistance. This appeals to Burma now that China is becoming more aggressive about expanding its investments in northern Burma. These Chinese investments are causing more problems with the tribes up there. Burma is also unhappy with the lack of Chinese cooperation to curb the Chinese arms smuggling that goes into Burma and via Burma to rebels in India (tribal ones in the northeast and communist ones throughout eastern India).
In northwest Pakistan (near the Afghan border in North Waziristan) an army border post was attacked by a large group of Islamic terrorists. In attack was repulsed with the loss of 19 Islamic terrorists and seven soldiers.
In eastern India (Jharkhand) police clashed with a Maoist extortion team and killed twelve of the leftist rebels including a widely known leader. Four of the twelve armed and uniformed Maoists involved appeared to be teenagers, some perhaps as young as 14.
June 6, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) an American UAV used missiles to kill eight Islamic terrorists.