So far this has been a bad year for Pakistan and a better one for India. Gaining control of Afghanistan was portrayed by the international community as a criminal act in support of Islamic terrorism. No one will recognize the new Afghan government, not even Pakistan because being first to recognize the new government would be a further admission of guilt for the role Pakistan has played in supporting the Taliban and the drug cartels in Afghanistan. Pakistan now finds itself under attacks by Afghan government forces, because of an unresolved border dispute, as well as the Pakistani Taliban, which wants to impose religious rule on Pakistan. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan now have more violence on their Iranian borders because of drug smuggling and separatist rebels in Pakistan. Iran is also angry at the new Afghan government because of increased attacks on Afghan Shia.
In contrast India continues to have fewer problems with internal unrest, most of which still comes from leftist rebels who survive in eastern India. Border disputes with China have been less active because China has economic problems at home as well more damage from covid19 than they ever wanted to admit. The Pakistani economy is also doing poorly and that is related to their military.
Pakistan is suffering from growing economic problems with higher inflation (13 percent), unemployment (five percent) and more poverty, currently 40 percent of the population, in general. A major weakness of the Pakistan economy is the disproportionate amount spent on the military. Officially it is four percent of GDP for Pakistan and 2.9 percent for India. The global average is 2.6 percent. Pakistani GDP is $282 billion. Neighboring India, with six times more people and a much larger economy spends $61 billion a year on defense while Pakistan spends $11.4 billion. The Pakistan situation is worse because for decades the military has used its power to obtain more financial benefits for retired officers. Technically, this is defense spending. If it is the result of corrupt behavior, you do not want to publicize the increased benefits. This situation became public in the last decade and made the military more desperate to maintain their political power. In contrast, India was decisive in keeping their officers out of politics from the beginning and that tradition continues.
Pakistan also suffered a major increase in corruption during 2021. For Pakistan and India, a major predictor of political and economic success is the amount of corruption the country suffers from. Pakistan now ranks 140th out of 180 countries compared to 124th out of 180 in 2020 and 120th in 2019. India ranks 85th, unchanged from 2020 and 86 the year before and 80 before that. These ratings and ranking are updated each year for the annual
Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Corruption is measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The most corrupt nations (usually Yemen/15, Syria/14, South Sudan/12 and Somalia/12) have a rating of under 15 while of the least corrupt (New Zealand and Denmark) are both 88.
The current Pakistani score is 28, down from 31 in 2020, 32 in 2019 and 33 in 2018, the year current president Imran Khan was elected on the promise to reduce corruption. In neighboring India, the score is 40, which is what it was five years ago.
India’s corruption score has changed for the better since 2012 when it was 36. Back then Pakistan had a score 0f 27, which improved to 33 by 2016 and got a lot worse since then.
Much of Pakistan’s political problems have to due with Pakistani support of Islamic terrorism and the involvement of so many government officials. That included Masood Khan, the man Pakistan appointed as their next ambassador to the United States. The Americans review the backgrounds of proposed ambassadors to seek out any criminal or terrorist activity. Masood had a history of that in Pakistan, where such support is considered patriotic. Pakistan will consider it an insult if Masood is rejected. The rest of the world considers it common sense.
January 30, 2022: In northwestern Pakistan (Pesawar) two Anglican priests driving home from mass, were attacked by unidentified gunmen, who killed one priest and wounded the other. The attackers were probably one of the many Sunni Islamic groups that see all non-Moslems and non-Sunni as unwanted in Pakistan. Pakistan’s name translates as “Land of the Pure” and there were violence over that from the very beginning.
January 29, 2022: In northwest India (Kashmir) soldiers, acting on tips staged two search operations and found their suspects were armed targets and unwilling to surrender. This left five Pakistani Islamic terrorists dead, including one veteran group leader. Some of the dead were from Kashmir but were recruited by Pakistan and went to Pakistani Kashmir for training before returning. Despite, or because of this many Kashmir Moslems want the Pakistan sponsored violence to stop.
Elsewhere in Kashmir, Islamic terrorists murdered a Moslem policeman outside of his home. This is part of an effort to discourage Kashmiri Moslems from joining the police.
January 26, 2022: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a group of gunmen, apparently Baluchi separatists, attacked an army checkpoint near the Iranian border, killing ten soldiers and escaped with no losses of their own. The other source of such attacks are Iranian Sunni Islamic terrorists, who often establish camps in Baluchistan and will attack Pakistani security forces in some circumstances.
January 23, 2022: In Pakistan the navy put the first Type 54A frigate, built in China, into service. These 4,000 ton-ships have been in use since 2006 and have been very successful. Pakistan ordered four of them starting in 2018 and expected to have them all by now but covid19 disrupted shipyard activity in China by at least a year. The 54A is a successful design with 37 built so far and at least another dozen to come. Most 54A are for the Chinese navy. Because of the growing number of sanctions on Pakistan, most new ships come from China.
January 22, 2022:
India has seen less Chinese activity along their common border but is still dealing with China because China backs the military government in Myanmar (Burma) and India is trying to avoid becoming involved. That has proved difficult to do. India has a 1,4oo kilometers border with Burma in the northeast and long had problems with tribal separatist rebels there, on both sides of the border. India finally worked out peace deals with all their rebels before the pro-India elected government in Burma was ousted in February 2021. The Burmese army war with northern tribes resumed, because the army is seen as the main reason for all the corruption and illegal Chinese economic activity in the north. Over a year later there is a lot more fighting in northern Burma and a lot of refugees fleeing to India. Many of the refugees belong to the same tribe that straddles the border. A lot of non-tribal Burmese entered as well and India sought to stop those refugees to avoid more trouble with China. This led some of the separatist tribal gunmen in India to use force to block Indian efforts to curb the flow of refugees.
January 20, 2022: In Pakistan (Lahore) Baluchi separatists took credit for a bomb going off in a crowded shopping district Pakistan’s largest city. Three people died and at least twenty were wounded. Lahore is in Punjab province that this attack was a warning that more Baluchi separatist attacks would take place in outside of Baluchistan.
January 18, 2022: In Pakistan the TTP (Pakistani Taliban) took credit for three attacks on police. Two attacks were near the Afghan border while the third was in Punjab province. Three policemen were killed, as well as three attackers. These three attacks to demonstrate that TTP continued to be active in Pakistan.
January 14, 2022: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) three soldiers died during several operations against TTP operations in the area.
January 13, 2022: The TTP announced that one of their founding members and former spokesman, Khalid Balti, had been killed over the weekend in eastern Afghanistan (Nangarhar Province). No more details were given
January 9, 2022: In southeastern Afghanistan (Paktika province) an unofficial Pakistani delegation of Pakistani Pushtun elders arrived to discuss peace, or at least a ceasefire with the TTP. There had been a ceasefire, that expired on December 9, 2021 because of TTP dissatisfaction at Pakistani efforts to maintain their obligation to release more TTP members from prison. The January negotiations did not succeed, even though the Pakistani delegation later travelled to Kabul and talked to government officials, who are all either Afghan or Pakistani Pushtuns. One thing Pushtuns on both sides of the border agree on is that the Pakistanis are not good for the 40 million Pushtuns living in both countries, many of them from tribes divided by the Pakistani border fence, a fence marking the Pakistani version of the border, not the somewhat different Pushtun version. Pakistan created and supported the Afghan Taliban for nearly three decades, with the goal of Afghan Taliban once more operating as the rulers of Afghanistan. Unlike the 1990s, there are now two Taliban’s, with Pakistani TTP seeking to impose Taliban rule on Pakistan. The problem with that is the Pushtuns are a small minority in Pakistan with the government and military dominated by Sind and Punjab Moslems who have a low opinion of Pushtuns in general. The non-tribal majority in Pakistan have their own political and economic problems. The Pakistani military has long been a problem because it believes it must occasionally take control of the government when those elected government become too corrupt and ineffectual to rule. The Pakistani use of Islamic terrorism, to support Pakistani goals has left Pakistan under a growing number of economic sanctions and escalating internal problems like rising inflation, unemployment and poverty rates.
January 8, 2022: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) a night raid by police on an ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) hideout turned into a gun battle when the six men at the location fought to the death.
January 3, 2022: Pakistan confirmed that is had indeed purchased 25 of the new Chinese J-10CE fighter-bombers. Technically the first Chinese made jet fighter to be exported was the JF-17, but that aircraft is not used by the Chinese air force. Currently two jet fighters designed in China are offered for export; the J10 and the JF17, which is technically a Pakistani aircraft. The JF17 was designed as a joint effort with Pakistan, mainly so Pakistan could claim to have developed and manufactured a jet fighter on its own. Until 1989, when the U.S. imposed sanctions, an American aircraft firm was also involved. After 1989 China and Pakistan continued alone. While prototypes and most of the components for the JF17 were Chinese built, the main export customer was Pakistan and China never bought any, mainly because by the time the JF17 was in service (2007) the J10 was already in production and was considered a superior aircraft.
Pakistan exported some JF17s to Burma and Nigeria because Russia agreed to supply and support the RD-93 engines required. In return, Pakistan has been buying more Russian weapons. Pakistan was not interested in the J10 because it also had similar F-16s, and was very satisfied with the locally assembled JF-17. China had to offer a J10 of equal capability and lower price to get sales from Pakistan. The main selling point was that the much-upgraded CE version of the J10 was an affordable answer to the French Rafale fighters India had purchased and comparable to the latest version of the F16, the F-16V.
January 2, 2022: Indian mariners are once more endangered. In the Red Sea, off Yemen, Shia rebels hijacked a UAE cargo ship Rwabee and its largely Indian crew outside the port of Hodeida, where most foreign aid enters the country. The cargo ship, which is classified as a landing ship, was built in 2021. Landing ships are often used to deliver and take on cargo at less well-equipped ports, or over a beach. Rwabee had delivered medical supplies for a field hospital and picked up unneeded items at Socotra Island in the entrance to the Red Sea. Rwabee was travelling to Saudi port of Jizan. The crew of eleven was mostly Indian but four were from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines. The rebels want compensation before they will release the ship. Indians comprise 14 percent of the sailors on the 50,000 foreign flagged ships at sea. Indians are popular because they tend to have officer or specialist certificates and speak English well. The foreign flagged shipping companies pay better than their Indian counterparts, especially for officers and specialists. This is why Indians are often kidnapped by pirates, because the officers and specialists bring the largest ransoms.
January 2, 2022: In northeast Pakistan local training facilities sponsored by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) encountered problems getting their graduates across the border. Indian border guards detected and defeated two ISI efforts to get people into India. One Pakistani Islamic terrorist was killed while in a second incident the intruder was able to get back across the Pakistan border.
A major factor in the lower number of successful infiltrations across the border was the successful Indian effort to eliminate the use of cross border tunnels. Initially some were discovered by border patrols. Most were poorly built and either left depressions in the ground, which alert border fence patrols noticed or, in another case a tunnel under construction collapsed because of heavy rains. Because of this captured Islamic terrorists were often willing to reveal details of the tunnel project. Between 2014 and 2019 India did not detect any more tunnel building activity and has been using new tunnel detection equipment to aid with that. If the tunnel construction escalates India may seek the latest tunnel detection tech from Israel, which already supplies India with many border security devices. In addition to the tunnels India has also detected Pakistan using UAVs to deliver small quantities of weapons and other supplies to Islamic terrorists operating on the Indian side of the border. Israel also offers UAV defense systems that work. The use of tunnels and UAVs is a response to the heavy casualties the infiltrators suffer because of the improved border security.
December 31, 2021: India finally obtained an export customer for their expensive, but effective, PJ-10 Brahmos anti-ship missile. Philippines has agreed to the $55 million cost of these missiles. Brahmos is a weapon that could do some serious damage to Chinese forces in the South China Sea. The Philippines originally wanted to buy two batteries of the Brahmos for coastal defense. Each battery has two or three truck mounted launchers, each with two or three missiles and communications equipment. Each battery also has a mobile radar for detecting targets via normal radar or by detecting and locating ship radar. That proposal would cost $70-100 million depending on battery configuration. The Filipino military had to come up with a deal the legislature would approve and the $55 million version was the one that worked. While expensive, the Philippines has been spending a lot more money on defense, including warships and aircraft from South Korea and now anti-ship missiles from India.
Land-based Brahmos missiles are carried, three to a truck, on a 12-wheel vehicle which also acts as a launcher. Smaller trucks can be used carrying only two missiles each. The three-ton missile has a range of 300 kilometers and has a 200 kg (440 pound) warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic f the Brahmos is its high speed, literally faster (at up to 5,000 feet per second) than a rifle bullet. Used against hostile surface warships, Brahmos is hard to stop. The Indian Navy is equipping some of its ships as well as batteries for coast defense. The air force is carrying the air-to-surface version.
India and Russia developed this missile together, and offered the Brahmos for export. The high price of each missile, about $2.7 million, restricts the number of countries that can afford it. The weapon entered service with the Indian navy in 2005. The 8.4-meter (28 foot) long, 600mm diameter missile is an upgraded version of the Russian SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) missile, which was in development when the Cold War ended in 1991 as an unstoppable “carrier killed” weapon. Lacking money to finish development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer made a deal with India to finish the job. India put up most of the $240 million needed to complete two decades of development. Exporting Brahmos has been complicated by growing Russian dependence on China for financial and diplomatic support while China and India are threatening war with each other over Chinese claims on Indian territory. China has applied pressure to prevent sales to some Asian nations it has territorial disputes with. That has not been an issue with the Philippines.
December 27, 2021: Pakistani control of the Afghan Taliban and the new government depends on the skills of their Haqqani family operatives. The Haqqani are a Pushtun clan that has spent decades working for the Pakistani ISI, which is a sort of CIA/KGB. The Haqqani profited greatly from that arrangement. Anas Haqqani, younger brother of Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin, is the primary publicist for the Haqqani Network, the Afghan Taliban and the IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government. Today Anas announced that the IEA welcomes expatriate Afghans with essential skills to return to IEA ruled Afghanistan and use their skills to make the IEA government more effective. That’s a bold request and unlikely to convince educated Afghans to come home. There are possible exceptions where Afghans living abroad would return to protect members of their family from IEA threats. Another reason for taking this offer seriously is that the Haqqani family are primarily representatives of the Pakistan military, which has been their patron, employer and protector for decades. Most Afghans and Pakistanis, as well as the rest of the world, considers the Haqqani Network a criminal enterprise protected by the Pakistani military. When a Haqqani speaks, the message is primarily from the Pakistani military.
Several senior members of the IEA government, especially two of the Haqqani brothers, are known Pakistani agents. Pakistan insisted on these men being included in the IEA, particularly Sirajuddin Haqqani, who had been the acting head of the Haqqani Network since 2009 and became the de facto head of the Afghan Taliban in 2016. Sirajuddin Haqqani could not be the official supreme leader of the Taliban, so a respected Taliban cleric assumed that role with Sirajuddin Haqqani as his deputy and the actual boss. This Pakistani tinkering with the Taliban leadership based in a Pakistan sanctuary was not well received inside Afghanistan and created a civil war that was going on for five years before the Taliban gained control of the Afghan government again.
Sirajuddin Haqqani is now the IEA Interior Minister and one of his first acts was to promise the families of suicide bombers that died in the service of the Taliban, that they should be rewarded with cash and property. Most of those suicide bombers were recruited and trained by the Haqqani Network, acting as a terrorism contractor for the Pakistani ISI. Pakistan denies this but Afghans, most Pushtuns and most Western nations recognize Sirajuddin Haqqani as a major terrorism supporter who works for Pakistan. The U.S. offers a $10 million reward for anyone who can kill or capture Sirajuddin Haqqani. For that reason, official IEA photos of the senior leadership blur Interior Minister Haqqani’s facial features. Khalil Haqqani, the uncle of Sirajuddin and Anas Haqqani, is the IEA Minister of Refugees. Both Kahlil and Sirajuddin have been senior Haqqani Network leaders for over a decade, since the Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani became ill and unable to run the Haqqani Network himself. Jalaluddin died in 2018 but had been less active in running the Haqqani Network for years.
December 25, 2021 The IEA threatened Pakistan because of resumed use of rockets and artillery fire from Pakistan into
eastern Afghanistan (usually Kunar province) against TTP (Pakistan Taliban) camps. Pakistan has been doing this for years. The IRA (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) government would contact Pakistan and the Pakistanis usually apologized and said they would halt the attacks. The attacks kept happening. Back in early 2019 the IRA government sent the UN a letter complaining about nearly a decade of similar Pakistani border violence. The Afghan letter detailed incidents from 2012 to early 2019 in which Pakistani troops fired 28,849 rockets, mortar or artillery shells into eastern Afghanistan
. Much of this firepower is directed at Kunar province and has been going on since 2010 in an effort to hit real or suspected TTP bases there. These incidents increased to the point where the Afghans began keeping track of them in 2012. Since then, this violence has killed or wounded nearly 300 people that the Afghan government knows about. The shelling occurs against rural areas that are often unpopulated so it is unclear if the Pakistanis have hit many Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani government propaganda insists that these Taliban Islamic terrorists are based in eastern Afghanistan and regularly cross into Pakistan to carry out attacks. The 2019 letter to the UN detailed how the situation was getting worse and that in 2018 there were 161 of these incidents that involved at least 6,025 Pakistani projectiles landing in Afghanistan. The letter pointed out that several elected Pakistani leaders have pledged to halt these border violations but those pledges are ignored by the Pakistani military. There was a large scale (neatly 200 shells and rockets) Pakistani attack in late 2019 but since the UN was notified and the Pakistani habit of cross border attacks became news, there have been fewer of these Pakistani attacks, and they have not stopped, even as the Pakistan-backed IEA government replaced the elected IRA one. The Pakistani military is also sending its missile armed UAVs to look for TTP leaders and kill them. Yesterday
the IEA resumed attacks on the Pakistani efforts to build and maintain border fences. There have long been disagreements about exactly where the border is. T
he current Afghan-Pakistani border is called the “Durand Line.” This was an impromptu, 1893 era invention of British colonial authorities and was always considered temporary, or at least negotiable, by locals. The need for renegotiation was mainly about how the line often went right through Pushtun tribal territories. However, the Afghans are more inclined to demand adjustments to the Durand Line, and fight to obtain what they want. Recent Pakistani efforts to build more fences and other structures on their side of the border was an attempt to make the Durand line permanent and no longer negotiable.
December 22, 2021:
The UN passed a resolution, which the U.S. agreed to, that allowed emergency food and medical aid to Afghanistan without recognizing the IEA as the legitimate government. Pakistan is the only country advocating recognition of the IEA and that has not stopped the IEA from causing problems with Pakistan over border disputes and the TTP maintaining bases in areas near the Pakistan border.