In Pakistan the crackdown on independent media, especially if they are critical of the military, continues. Pakistan generals can simply order that the appropriate news stories and opinion pieces be published, which they do frequently to praise themselves or to accuse India of attacking Pakistan. In Pakistan anyone who openly speaks against this media policy, especially if they have an audience, can experience fatal consequences. Pakistani journalists are again under a lot of pressure (usually in the form of an order you cannot refuse) to praise the current head of the military (general Raheel Sharif). This is standard procedure for the Pakistani military after they have had any obvious success. This is rare but in the last year the military has done a lot of damage to the Pakistani Taliban and terrorist violence is way down in Pakistan as a result. So despite the coercion it’s not too difficult for a lot of journalists to say something nice about Raheel Sharif and his troops. That will eventually change, as it always does because most Pakistanis see the military as corrupt and incompetent. The corruption is pretty constant but at times the military manages to actually do something useful. This was the campaign in North Waziristan that began in June 2014 and is now scheduled to end in late 2016. Currently the military has ordered more violence along the Indian border because the terrorist threat is reduced and the public must remain fearful and grateful for their military. The Pakistan media is under orders to describe this border violence as all the fault of India. It isn’t and the overwhelming majority of the nearly 250 violent border incidents this year began when Pakistani troops attacked their Indian counterparts.
The chief banker (head of the State Bank) in Pakistan urged the government to release a lot more detail on the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Without such transparency it is believed that a lot of the money would disappear because of the corruption that is still rampant in Pakistan. CPEC began 2013 when China agreed to spend $18 billion to build a road from the Pakistani port of 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 became 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. Many Pakistanis, including senior officials, believe that unless there is strenuous government action the endemic corruption will ruin this major effort to boost the Pakistani economy. Meanwhile the military wants Pakistani manufacturers of weapons and defense equipment to increase production and seek export markets. That is easier said than done because there is a lot of competition out there, especially from China.
India believe that since October Islamic terrorist groups based in Pakistani Kashmir have increased their infiltration attempts into Indian Kashmir. This despite the onset of cold weather and deep snows in the mountain passes. Some 25 Islamic terrorists are believed to have been sent in with orders to kill Indian soldiers and police stationed along the border. Some have succeeded and most have died. At the same time the leftist (Maoist) rebels in eastern India are becoming less of a problem and show signs of considerable weakening.
India’s locally designed and built LCA (Light Combat Aircraft or "Tejas") jet fighter has still not received its FOC (Final Operational Clearance), nearly two years after receiving its IOC (Initial Operational Certificate). That is one of many reasons the Indian Air Force is openly pleading with the government not to force them to accept and operate the LCA. The air force has already agreed to accept (and pay for out of their budget) twenty LCAs but is defiantly resisting government suggestions that another hundred LCAs be purchased. Air force commanders point out that the LCA development has been a long list of failures. Moreover the current LCA design is very expensive to maintain and performs poorly in the air.
December 5, 2015: In northern Bangladesh three men, believed to be Islamic terrorists, threw bombs at a Hindu temple and wounded ten people. This year there has also been a lot more threats against journalists who criticize Islamic terrorism and at least seven of these writers have been murdered.
December 4, 2015: Afghanistan admits that it has not implemented all of the agreements to work more closely with Pakistan on border security. This is largely because a lot of Afghans, and Afghan politicians, do not trust Pakistan. Since August the Pakistanis have been cooperating with Afghan troops on the border to share information and coordinate operations to minimize the number of Islamic terrorists who try to move their operations into Afghanistan. But all the cooperation efforts have not been implemented.
In Bangladesh ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) took credit for the murder of a policeman at a checkpoint.
December 3, 2015: In northwest India (Kashmir) three Islamic terrorists were killed on the border as they attempted to sneak in from Pakistan.
December 2, 2015: In southwest Pakistan (Quetta) Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was apparently shot after a gun battle broke out while he was meeting with other Taliban leaders. It was later reported that he died but officially the Taliban insists he is still alive. This internal violence began last July when the Afghan Taliban announced the selection of a new leader (Mansour) to replace founder and longtime leader Mullah Omar. Mansour has been the acting head of the Taliban since 2010 because Mullah Omar was said to have health problems. It took weeks after the revelation for the Taliban to admit that Omar had been dead since 2013 but have not revealed exactly why his death was concealed. The reason may have been to maintain unity because after the appointment of Mansour was made several Taliban factions went public complaining of how the selection was made. The Afghan Taliban is known to be sharply divided over the subject of peace talks with the Afghan government. Some factions also complain openly that Pakistan (in the form of the ISI) actually controls the Taliban leaders living in Baluchistan under the protection of the ISI. Mansour backs peace talks while Omar was said to have opposed them. The official shift in Taliban leadership caused the peace talks (between the Taliban and the Afghan government) to be halted indefinitely. To make matters more difficult for Pakistan there were some recently released emails where U.S. State Department officials discussed the Mullah Omar situation and confirmed that, as far as the U.S. government was concerned, there was no doubt that Pakistan had been sheltering Omar since 2002. Mansour has been under a lot of pressure to get all his key leaders to agree to peace talks, if only to please the Americans.
Elsewhere in Pakistan four more Islamic terrorists were executed by hanging. These four were involved with the December 16, 2014 attack on a school for the children of Pakistani military families that left 141 dead, most of them young students. In response to that attack Pakistan reinstated the death penalty. As a result Pakistan has executed some 300 people, most of them for terrorism offenses. So far this year Pakistan has killed over 2,500 Islamic terrorists. That’s a little more than were killed during the same period in 2014. More importantly deaths among civilians and the security forces are way down (by about half) compared to 2014. Security forces have arrested nearly 10,000 Islamic terrorist suspects in the last year including nearly two thousand radical clerics. Still, Pakistani terrorist and rebel related deaths are still much higher than in India. Pakistan is obviously a far more dangerous place, in large part because the Pakistani government has supported Islamic terrorism since the 1980s and continues to do so. But in the last five years that support has led to the spread of Islamic terrorist violence inside Pakistan and the deaths of nearly 9,000 Pakistanis and Islamic terrorists. This brought forth demands from most Pakistanis that the army do something about all this violence, often committed by Islamic terror groups that were long supported by the military.
November 30, 2015: Afghan and Pakistani leaders, meeting in France, agreed to work together to get Afghan-Taliban peace talks revived. The United States and Pakistan had earlier agreed to try getting the peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban resumed but had problems convincing Afghans it was worth the effort. Afghanistan had to be persuaded because there is enormous fear and distrust of Pakistan in Afghanistan. Another problem is that the Taliban are in the midst of an increasingly violent civil war. The main Taliban leadership (who favor peace talks) believe they will have their dissident factions crushed by the end of the year or early 2016. That may well be, but this internal violence is yet another unpredictable variable to deal with. Afghanistan also blames Pakistan for the current civil war within the Taliban and for only attacking Islamic terrorists who are hostile to Pakistan, not those who attack Afghanistan (especially the Haqqani Group and the Afghan Taliban enjoying sanctuary in southwest Pakistan). The United States agrees, publically, that Pakistan not only provides sanctuary in Pakistan but continues to supply them with weapons and equipment.
November 27, 2015: In northern Bangladesh someone shot at a Shia mosque leaving one dead and three wounded. This came hours after police killed a notorious Sunni Islamic terrorist leader believed responsible for a recent attack on a Shia mosque that killed two and wounded two others using a bomb. ISIL has been more active in Bangladesh this year, but small scale compared to Pakistan.
November 25, 2015: In northwest India (Kashmir) three Islamic terrorists managed to get into an army base at night but were cornered in the officers’ mess (dining facility) and killed after a six hour gun battle. One civilian worker at the base was also killed. These suicidal attackers had apparently recently cross over from Pakistan with orders to carry out attacks without regard to their own lives. In the first ten months of this year 79 people died in the Pakistani based terror operations in Kashmir.
Across the border in Afghanistan (Khost province, adjacent to North Waziristan) an American UAV missile attack appears to have killed Khan Sayed, the leader of a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban. Eleven of Khan Sayed’s followers were also killed in the attack. The missiles hit a meeting of senior Taliban working for Khan Sayed.
November 23, 2015: Pakistan has turned down an American request that it contribute troops or warplanes to the fight against ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) in Syria. Pakistan points out that it already has about 180,000 troops deployed on its Afghan border to mainly deal with Islamic terrorists.
November 22, 2015: ISIL has accused Pakistanis Islamic terrorist group Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) of being a tool of the Pakistani military and therefore illegitimate and un-Islamic. LeT is an Islamic terror group organized and long supported by the Pakistani military, mainly to organize and carry out terrorist attacks in India. This is widely known and LeT is also disliked by the Pakistani Taliban for the same reason.
November 15, 2015: In northwest Pakistan (South Waziristan) Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan fired rockets at Pakistani troops. There were no injuries or damage. The attackers are believed to have been some of the Pakistani Islamic terrorists driven out of Pakistan since mid-2014.