Not unexpectedly, Pakistan has refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia, second to China, is a major supplier of weapons to Pakistan while also being a supplier to India. Pakistan also gets some cash aid from the United States and that may be halted because the Western powers are coming down hard on Russia for what most UN members agree is a major violation of the UN charter. India and Israel have not condemned Russia, but have criticized Russia over Ukraine, just not as sternly as most other industrialized countries.
Pakistan and India are having problems paying Russia for new shipments because of the extent of the new sanctions on Russia. Even with some help from China, the Russian financial and banking systems are broken for now and orders for Russian goods, especially weapons, are being canceled. Some major customers for Russian weapons, like India and Pakistan as well as recent ones like Turkey and some Southeast Asian countries. These arms buyers see the dismal Russian weapons in Ukraine as proof that Russian weapons are inferior. The U.S., China and Israel are likely to pick up most of the Russian customers. Two American portable systems; the Stinger antiaircraft and the Javelin anti-tank missiles played a major role in the heavy losses the Russians suffered. Russia has tried hard to rebuild the credibility of its modern weapons since the end of the Cold War in 1991. The Ukraine misadventure destroyed much of that, especially among major customers who had kept buying Russian in the 1990s. China will pick up a lot of this business, especially for Pakistan and other buyers looking for bargains, simplicity and reliability.
Defense manufacturers from Israel, the U.S. and other industrialized nations are competing for the business Russia has lost and that will hurt Russia in the long term, even after the sanctions eventually are lifted. That seems more likely because of growing opposition within Russia to the Ukraine operation. Senior military and secret police (FSB) officials are being dismissed or arrested because of this and there are still public protests,
The security situation inside Pakistan is getting worse and Pakistan blames this on the growing chaos in Afghanistan plus foreign (Indian) support for some terror groups in Pakistan. While Islamic terrorism caused deaths have always been less in India, the problem has been growing in Pakistan. In 2021 these deaths were 30 percent than 2020 and so far, 2022 appeared headed for twice as many Islamic terrorism deaths in Pakistan. The Baluchi separatists are the only cause of non-Islamic terrorism deaths and despite those activities, most of terrorism deaths in Baluchistan are caused by Islamic terrorists. Pakistan has long blamed Indian support for the Baluchi separatist violence but has never been able to present verifiable proof. When it comes to India, paranoia rules. An example of that was the recent accidental launch of an Indian Brahmos missile into Pakistan. There was little damage and no one was hurt, but Pakistan pushed the accusation that India was actually trying to hit a vital Pakistani facility and missed.
This obsession with India comes from the Pakistani military, which needs a hostile and dangerous neighbor to justify the high military budget and growing military control over the government. No longer does the military have to stage a coup and take control, and eventually be forced to step back and allow elections. In the last few years, the military has managed to terrorize or influence enough politicians and political parties to exercise control of the government without a coup. That is running into trouble because misbehavior by the military is responsible for the mess in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Taliban are now in charge. That was made possible by the Pakistani military, which created the Taliban in the mid-1990s. Despite losing power in late 2001, the Taliban once more took over the government in Afghanistan in August 2021. Despite the presence of known Pakistani agents in key government positions of the new Taliban IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government, there is more anti-Pakistan violence coming from Afghanistan than when the U.S. backed IRA (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) government was in charge. The IEA is more pro-Islamic terrorist than the IRA and tolerates the presence of the TTP (Pakistani Taliban) that seeks to impose a religious dictatorship on Pakistan. The IEA appears to have made a similar deal with ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), or some of the ISIL factions in Afghanistan, because the number of ISIL attacks in Pakistan have increased this year and these attacks are often coming from ISIL factions operating across the border in Afghanistan. The Pakistani military apparently underestimated the degree of anti-Pakistan attitudes among IEA leaders.
Pakistan’s role in the Taliban gaining control of Afghanistan was portrayed by the international community as a criminal act in support of Islamic terrorism and the world’s main source of heroin in Afghanistan. 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 making it happen. Pakistan now finds itself under attacks by Afghan government forces because of an unresolved border dispute, as well as the TTP. 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. The Taliban victory that Pakistan made possible is seen more and more as a mistake because Afghanistan has become a major problem for Pakistan.
In contrast India continues to have fewer problems with control of its military and internal unrest, most of them coming 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 and its activities in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is suffering from growing economic problems with higher inflation (13 percent), unemployment (five percent) and more poverty, currently 40 percent of the population. 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 legal and illegal 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.
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 kilometer 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. A year later there is a lot more fighting in northern Burma and a lot of refugees fleeing to India. The Indian government has ordered border police to turn away or forcibly return such refugees to Burma. Local state governors refuse to enforce those orders, if only because so many of the refugees have kin in 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. The state governors protected these refugees as well. In some cases, separatist tribal gunmen in India used force to block Indian government efforts to curb the flow of refugees. The federal government has not escalated this dispute, in part because the local resistance is an adequate excuse for allowing the Burma refugees in despite protest from China.
March 12, 2022: In northwest India (Kashmir) three different clashes with Islamic terrorists left four of the terrorists dead and one arrested. Two of the dead terrorists were Kashmir Moslems who had gone to Pakistan to be trained in one of the many Islamic terrorist camps on the Pakistan side of the border. The other two were from Pakistan. The deaths in Kashmir have been remarkably stable over the last three years with about 270 Islamic terrorists related deaths a year. That’s about half the annual deaths from terrorists and rebels throughout India.
March 11, 2022: In Pakistan the first six of 25 new Chinese J-10CE fighter-bombers arrived. All of them are supposed to arrive before the 20th. 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. 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 was not interested in the original 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 that worked 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.
March 10, 2022: A study of reported excess deaths worldwide during 2020 and 2021 indicate that India lost four million people to covid19, rather than the current official estimate of half a million deaths. Most nations can keep track of deaths. Over time each nation has a pattern of deaths and when there is a year with more deaths than predicted, a reason for these excess deaths is sought. If there is no war, famine or other obvious national disaster, the culprit is usually influenza, which only occurs at certain times of the year. Flu deaths were always estimates, based on weekly “excess deaths” during the flu season. The pattern for causes of death did not change because if was always recognized that the flu was most dangerous for people who were already sick. Such was the case with covid19, except it was deadly all year and there was an unprecedented global excess deaths situation for as long as covid19 has been active. A similar analysis exposed the outright fraud China had employed to support its claim that covid19 had little impact in China and probably started elsewhere rather than Wuhan in central China during late 2019.
March 9, 2022: In northwest India an artillery unit accidentally fired a three-ton BrahMos missile into the adjacent Pakistani province of Punjab. Pakistani air defense systems detected a high-speed intruder and did not realize it was a missile until the missile landed in a residential area, where it did some damage but caused no casualties. Pakistan will demand an explanation, as well as cash compensation. Meanwhile Pakistani, and probably Chinese, technical experts will scrutinize the missile debris for useful information. India is demanding an explanation from the army about how such an accident could happen. For the army, Brahmos missiles are stored and launch from one of three canisters on a large truck. Pakistan later declared the missile launch deliberate.
March 8, 2022: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) an ISIL suicide bomber attacked a government convoy, killing five soldiers and wounding 30 others. Elsewhere in Baluchistan soldiers attacked an ISIL safe house and killed seven Islamic terrorists, including two commanders. A large quantity of weapons and munitions was seized.
March 5, 2022: After yesterday’s FATF (Financial Action Task Force) review of counter-terrorism goals, Pakistan again managed to stay off the international blacklist for nations that support terrorism. The FATF certified that Pakistan had achieved all but one of the 27 goals required to get it off the gray list. Pakistani officials insist the only reason they are still on the gray list is because of Western conspiracy to punish Pakistan and that soon justice will be done and Pakistan will be free of FATF scrutiny. For seven years Pakistan has done everything it could, except to halt support of Islamic terrorism, to avoid the blacklist and the financial sanctions that go with it. For decades Pakistan has been lying about its support for Islamic terrorism and those lies caught up with them. In February 2020 the FATF told Pakistan that it was making enough progress in reducing support for Islamic terrorism to stay off the black list. This slow improvement approach had kept Pakistan off the black list since 2019. Pakistan was not safe as long as the FATF monitoring continued. Pakistan was regularly given more time to carry out necessary reforms.
Back in October 2019 Pakistan had achieved only four of the 27 tasks the FATF set to get Pakistan out of trouble. Pakistan should have gone onto the blacklist for that but pressure from China got Pakistan another “last chance”. Since 2019 Pakistan has raised the number of goals achieved to 14. Since 2016 it appeared that Pakistan was not making enough effort to block Pakistan-based terrorist groups from using the international banking system to finance their violence. Pakistan keeps making just enough progress to keep themselves off the black list. Pakistan had been on the gray list from 2012 to 2015 and that was bad for businesses that import or export or need to get foreign loans or sell bonds. After 2015 Pakistan was still on the FATF list but not designated as dangerous. Being on the gray portion of the list makes it more expensive to do business and is very bad for the reputation of Pakistan and Pakistanis. The situation is worse this time because decades of corruption and government mismanagement have left Pakistan unable to raise enough money to meet the government budget. This threatens the Pakistani military, which has always taken a disproportionate portion of the budget and does not want to reduce its spending. Being on the FATF blacklist would be a financial and economic crisis for Pakistan. Since China is the major foreign investor in Pakistan, and Pakistan is the largest customer for Chinese weapons, China has much at stake here. There is only so much China can do to keep Pakistan off the black list.
March 4, 2022: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) an ISIL suicide bomber attacked a Shia Mosque, killing 63 and wounding nearly others.
March 3, 2022: Pakistani ASW (Anti-submarine warfare) forces detected an Indian Kalvari-class submarine trying to sneak into Pakistani territorial waters. This was the fourth such detection in the last five years.
February 25, 2022: Iran agreed to speed up the completion of a security fence along the 832-kilometer-long Pakistan border, especially the portion in the southeast opposite Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. In the last month Baluchi separatists, based on the Iran side of the border, carried out two attacks inside Pakistan. In Iran, the local Sunni Baluchi are opposed to how harshly the Iranian Shia government treats them. Iranian and Pakistani Baluchis have family, tribal and ideological links and that makes it easier for an Iranian Baluchi Islamic terror group to establish and sustain bases in Pakistan. This is a constant source of friction between Iran and Pakistan because the Iranians could shut down groups like Jaish al Adl were it not for the Pakistani sanctuaries. Pakistan is unable to suppress its own Baluchi Islamic terrorist and separatist groups. Iran has long treated uncooperative minorities harshly. This includes Shia Arabs in the southwest, Sunni Kurds in the northwest and the Sunni Baluchis in the southeast. Iranian and Pakistani Baluchis want to create an independent Baluchistan that includes a chunk of southeast Iran where most of the Iranian Baluchis live. Iranian separatist group Jaish al Adl is particularly hated by Iran. In late 2018 Iran threatened to send troops across the Pakistani border to find and destroy Iranian Jaish al Adl camps in Pakistan if the Pakistani security forces did not take action and neither did the Iranians. Jaish al Adl is still active. Pakistan is the only Arab nation with nuclear weapons and does not take sides in the unofficial war between Iran and the wealthy Persian Gulf Arab states, who are now allied with Israel. Pakistan does not want war with Iran but also wants to maintain cordial relations with the Arab oil-states, which often help Pakistan financially. At the same time Pakistan has agreed to establish a barter trade system with Iran as a way around the financial and banking sanctions imposed on Iran. Pakistan is using the same barter method with Afghanistan, which is also sanctioned.
Pakistan continues to have problems with Afghanistan over where the border is. The 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.
February 24, 2022: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) soldiers clashed Islamic terrorists, killing seven of them.
February 23, 2022: India received its twelfth and last (for now) P-8I maritime patrol aircraft from the United States. In 2009 India was the first export customer for the new P-8 and was getting a customized version (the P-8I) that would see much of the maintenance and upgrades performed in India by the Indian division of Boeing, the manufacturer of the P-8. The original Indian order was for eight aircraft with an option to order four more if the first eight were satisfactory.
In 2014 India was not happy with its new American P-8I. In late 2013 the U.S. P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft entered service, four years after its first flight in 2009. Soon the manufacturer was confronted with complaints that the new electronics developed for the P-8A were not working well alone or with each other. The surface search radar and surveillance turret (a high end vidcam with powerful zoom) were particularly troubled, with many of their automatic and cooperative features not working properly. These problems were noted more than a year before the P-8A entered service. By early 2014 there were 16 P-8s flying, six of them prototypes. Production continued, for India as well as the U.S. One was delivered to India in May 2013 and the Indians are quite upset over the sensor problems. By 2020 the sensor problems wee resolved and India found the P-8I was a major improvement over the old Russian four-engine maritime patrol aircraft.
February 22, 2022: Pakistan allowed an Indian food aid convoy, carrying 50,000 tons of wheat to pass through Pakistan to the Afghan border crossing in northwest Pakistan (Khyber Pass). The UN will supervise the distribution of the wheat inside Afghanistan. The new Taliban government of Afghanistan has been unable to attract much foreign aid because the Taliban refused to allow foreigners to supervise distribution. The food shortage situation has become desperate and the Taliban are making an exception here. Before the Taliban took over, India was a major donor of aid to the previous elected government. India pledged this food aid in January but Pakistan had banned Indian traffic since 2019 and it took several weeks to negotiate terms (no customs or other charges and security) before this transit was allowed.
February 21, 2022: Pakistan is implementing a new law against “fake news” on any Internet social media that involves the Pakistan military or police. The way the law is written, “fake news” can be defined as anything the military wants it to be.
February 19, 2022: In northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) soldiers killed five Islamic terrorists.
February 16, 2022: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) soldiers clashed with armed Baluchi separatists and killed six of them. The dead men were believed responsible for several recent attacks in the area.
February 12, 2022: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) security forces are accused of kidnapping 34 civilians in the last ten days. Most of those taken are questioned and eventually released but some are never seen again and the government ignores inquiries about such missing people.
February 8, 2022: The IEA (the Taliban Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan government), with help from Pakistan, has set up a screening and training program for Taliban gunmen joining the IEA security forces. The training does not last long but it does impart the basics for behaving like a soldier. Over 600 of the new IEA soldiers have completed the training and nearly all of them have been sent to the northern border where they will guard the official border crossings.
February 6, 2022: In northwest Pakistan, some TTP (Pakistani Taliban) gunmen fired eastern Afghanistan (Paktia province) from the Afghan side of the border at Pakistani troops in Pakistan and killed at least five of them.
February 5, 2022: In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) attacks by Baluchi separatists and reprisal attacks by soldiers and police over the last few days has left nine soldiers and twenty Baluchi separatists dead.
February 4, 2022: In northwest Pakistan, some TTP gunmen fired from the eastern Afghanistan Province of Nangarhar and killed several border guards. This is another incident in the escalating border war with Pakistan over where the border actually is and the recently completed Pakistani border fence that follows the Pakistan version of the border. While the IEA officially supports the Pakistani version of the border, most IEA members do not and this is causing problems between the Pakistani military and the Pakistani agents occupying key positions in the IEA.
February 3, 2022: India has allowed the 80 remaining (out of 180) Afghan military cadets to remain in India for another six months. The IRA embassy is still operating, because no country has yet recognized the IEA as the legitimate government. India was always very enthusiastic about supporting the IRA government and regards the IEA government as an extension of the Pakistani military. The remaining 80 Afghan cadets can stay but cannot legally work. Those who already left had money or kin in other countries. The 80 remaining will receive an English fluency course from India and some financial support from the IRA embassy staff. The embassy is seeking nations that will provide sanctuary. Returning to Afghanistan was not an option because Afghans like the cadets are not trusted by the IEA and usually disappear or are killed.