September 26, 2023: The Indian decision in 2019 to end autonomous rule in Kashmir has resulted in less violence. Many of the government administrators are now non-Moslem and from other parts of India. Hindus and Sikhs have always been a minority in Kashmir and feel safer now that the there is no more autonomous rule, which was controlled by the local Moslem majority.
In Pakistan, parliament was dissolved and preparations are underway for new elections. Earlier, former prime minister Imran Khan was sentenced to three years in prison for financial misconduct and barred from participating in politics for five years. Khan was taken to a prison near the capital to serve his sentence. Khan’s numerous followers are appealing his sentence to the high court and that may succeed. Khan was planning a political comeback in the fall elections. His major obstacle was the military. While prime minister, Khan sought to limit the economic and political power of the military and the military refused to cooperate.
The generals had become rich and free from civilian control through corruption and did not want that changed, Slowly the army gained control over or cooperation from enough political parties that they got Khan removed from his position as prime minister (PM) in April 2022. Khan lost his job as prime minister via a no-confidence vote by a parliamentary majority. He was the first PM to be removed this way. Most PMs are removed by the president of Pakistan, which is another, less messy, form of no-confidence vote. Since the founding of Pakistan in 1947, no PM has completed their five-year term. The main reason for Khan’s political allies to turn against him was economic; high unemployment and inflation, plus increasing Islamic terrorist violence and some diplomatic disasters. There was another reason, and that was Khan’s efforts to bring the Pakistani military under civilian control. There was much popular support for curbing military power, but the military refused to be curbed and managed to get Khan jailed on corruption charges. This will keep Khan from participating in the January elections and regaining his political power.
The Pakistan military has grown more active and open in its efforts to intimidate or silence journalists or media that criticize or threaten the military. This includes popular and high-visibility TV personalities. This was demonstrated with the recent arrest of a popular TV news anchor who frequently criticized the military. The newsman was charged with “spreading false information about state institutions”. False information would be describing the government and military as honest and efficient. That was not what the arrested TV personality was arrested for.
The reality, as confirmed by foreign critics, like the World Bank, is that the government is very corrupt and inefficient. This is the reason why 40 percent pf Pakistanis live below the poverty line. It’s not just the high unemployment but also the rampant inflation and low pay for those who are employed. Pakistan has the lowest per-capita income in South Asia along with poor health care and an inferior educational system. The literacy rate is 57 percent compared to 72 percent for India, 96 percent in China and 87 percent in Iran. Only Afghanistan has a lower literacy rate of 38 percent. Countries with higher literacy rates tend to have stronger economies and more prosperity in general. The U.S. has a literacy rate of 99 percent, as does Britain and most other Western nations. The more prosperous Arab states, like the UAE (United Arab Emirates) have a 93 percent literacy rate. The higher literacy rate usually leads to a better educated and more productive workforce. Pakistan’s relatively low literacy rate played a significant role in it having an ineffective government, political system and economy. Currently the inflation rate is still rising and the year-to-year inflation increase is 38 percent. The unemployment rate, usually under four percent, is on the rise and headed for seven percent by the end of 2023. That is lower than India’s, but the Indian economy is much larger and generally more efficient. The Indian poverty rate is about half of Pakistan’s.
While terrorism deaths are lower, murder rates are another matter. In Pakistan there are over 9,000 murders a year and a murder rate of about four percent. India has a three percent murder rate, but more dead because India has nearly six times the population, as in 1.4 billion people compared to 240 million in Pakistan.
September 25, 2023: Canada accuses India of sending operatives to Canada to kill an Indian man considered a terrorist back in India. The assassination took place in 2020 and recent revelations about the incident were denied by India. The stalemate over the accusations caused both India and Canada to warn there citizens not to visit the other country. It’s not unusual for many major nations to engage in illegal assassinations of those wanted for serious crimes and have found sanctuary in another country.
September 22, 2023: India ordered 31 MQ-9B naval reconnaissance/ASW UAVs from the American manufacturer at a cost of about #100 million per UAV. The high cost is largely due to the extensive electronic and other sensors carried to detect submarines. The MQ-9B can also scan the surface for ships and boats and do so for 30 hours per sortie.
September 21, 2023: India and Canada are feuding because of Indian accusations is harboring Indian terrorists who have found refuge in Canada and Canada refuses to honor Indian extradition requests. In retaliation India has also stopped issuing visas for Canadians to visit India. Many of these visa applicants emigrated to Canada and became Canadian citizens. India considers some of those migrants’ terrorists and murderers. Canada accuses India of organizing the murder of an Indian man wanted for murders inside India.
September 20, 2023: In northwest Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) soldiers conducting a search for Islamic terrorists encountered them twice in one day, killing eight of them. The army is no longer encountering large groups of Islamic terrorists in the area but there are still individuals and small groups. A population hostile to Islamic terrorism and widespread cell phone ownership has made it difficult for Islamic terrorists to survive in any area with cellphone service. This now includes most of Pakistan, mainly because people of all economic levels find he cellphones indispensable. This led to rapid proliferation of cell phone service providers and very inexpensive cell phones, mainly from China. Despite the low costs of foreign cellphones, the Indian government adds so many taxes and fees that these cell phones cost more to Indians than they do to Chinese. Even with all that most Indians or Pakistanis can buy a cell phone for about $100 and use it with prepaid service or monthly rates as low as $15.
September 19, 2023: In northwest India (Kashmir) a week of terrorist violence has left five security personnel and three terrorists dead. The terrorists are often from Pakistan, even though Pakistan insists there are not terrorist training camps on the Pakistan side of the border. Indian border guards often detect and kill armed men crossing and finds some are Pakistanis while others are Indians who went to Pakistan for training. So far this year over 80 percent of the terrorists killed in Kashmir have been Pakistani. While the total number of deaths in Kashmir have been declining, at least four security personnel have died each month since 2020.
September 12, 2023: In northeast India (Manipur state) violence by and between separatist tribal rebels has continued. Today three tribesmen were ambushed and killed, apparently by tribal rivals. In the last four months there have been at least 160 such deaths, most of them because of fighting between rebel factions and fewer because of clashes with the security forces.
September 6, 2023:
In northern India (Uttar Pradesh state) members of the CPI (Communist Party of India) are accused of trying to revive its violent radical faction, the recently depleted Maoist communist rebels. The Communist Party (CPI) is legal in India and the leaders of the CPI do not approve of the Moist violence and have cooperated with Indian efforts to keep the Maoists from rebuilding their strength and ability launch attacks. During 2022 and 2023 to date there continue to be fewer deaths attributed to Maoist activity. The are still Maoist factions in eastern India but the Maoists are found in fewer areas. For the last decade, terrorism related deaths have been declining every year. But this year many see a slight increase. In 2022 there were 414 terrorism related deaths and so far in 2023 there have been 352.
For 2022 India’s communist Maoist rebels ranked 12th out of 20 terrorist groups worldwide. Total deaths caused by the Maoists in 2022 were 98, which is down from 147 in 2021. Terrorism related deaths in India also include Islamic terrorists in northwest India (Kashmir) and tribal rebels in the northeast. The Maoists operate in eastern India, and the areas where they are active have shrunk considerably over the last decade because of energetic government efforts to eliminate them.
In 2020, there were 588 deaths in India from all forms of terrorism, compared to 621 in 2019 and 940 in 2018. In 2020 54 percent of the dead were in Kashmir, which was higher than usual. Most years non-Islamic terrorist violence accounts for most of the violence but in 2020 leftist (Maoist) rebels in eastern India only accounted for 41 percent of the deaths with the five percent caused by tribal separatists in the northeast. The decline in Maoist activity began in 2009 when India assigned 75,000 additional police to deal with the Maoists. Initially this did not increase Maoist losses, but did result in more dead policemen. The Maoists did lose many of their rural camps and, in general, were forced to devote more time to security and less to attacking the government or extorting money from businesses. As always, the government has failed to effectively address the social and economic problems in the countryside, where feudalism and corruption are rampant. These problems provide the Maoists with recruits, and support from many of the locals.
Eventually the government did address the local social and economic problems and this is what deprived the Maoists of areas where they could operate. The police efforts continued and now the Maoists are only active in a small portion of eastern India, where they are more concerned with surviving than expanding or attacking the police. Civilians in Maoist infested areas are less afraid of providing police with information about Maoist movements or joining pro-government militias to resist Maoist operations. It also became easier to recruit Maoist members to become active informants. These spies are paid monthly and the sudden affluence of their families often alerts Maoist leaders to the presence of police informants. While details about informants are kept secret, the losses suffered because police had inside information is often obvious. The Maoist decline has demoralized leftist leaders, who have not been able to come up with any way to halt or reverse the losses. Maoists are a radical faction of the once mighty Indian communist party. Many Indian communists were slow to understand why all those East European communist governments, including Russia, collapsed between 1989 and 1991. Despite that many Indians still support communism, but not the violent, ineffective and increasingly unpopular Maoists.
August 30, 2023: In the north, on the Chinese border (Ladakh), China has built fortified bunkers and underground bunkers in Akasi Chin. This is a desolate mountain region 70 kilometers on the Indian side of the LAC (Line of Actual Control). India considers the LAC the official border butt China has quietly established military camps and fortifications on Indian territory that China took during their brief 1962 border war with India. This region is sparsely inhabited, desolate and located at an altitude of 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) in a remote area of Kashmir. The region is flat and dry year-round. Its only military value is that it provides a perpetually dry, flat land connection between India and China. At one point China used the area for live-fire military exercises but halted that because Akasi Chin was too remote and required expensive land transportation efforts to supply troops in what is basically a hard sand desert. The new fortifications allow China to stockpile supplies in the underground bunkers and thus gain a military advantage over India in any future border conflict.
August 28, 2023: China issued a new map showing additional claims on territory belonging to neighboring countries. The map includes all of Taiwan and the entire northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Taiwanese pointed out that Taiwan had never been a part of China, in part because China did not want to be bothered with ruling a large island off its coast. Historically, there was a similar attitude towards India and several disputed territories on Indian border with China.
August 25, 2023: In northwest Pakistan, across the Afghan border in Nangarhar Province WHO (World Health Organization) polio monitoring teams have detected five more cases of polio. That makes 32 so far this year. All but two turned up in Nangarhar Province. There were also at least two cases in Pakistan. These are the only cases detected worldwide. Pakistan expects to have no cases in 2024, unless the number of refugees from Afghanistan increases substantially. Despite years of strenuous efforts, Afghanistan has been unable to eliminate polio via vaccinations. For a long time, the main opposition were Islamic conservative clerics who called the vaccinations an attempt by Western nations to poison Moslem children. While few of those clerics remain, there are now more Afghans agreeing with Western anti-vaccination groups and insisting there are harmful side effects. Numerous controlled studies have not demonstrated any evidence of this but it has become popular. In 2016 there were 20 cases of polio in Pakistan, 13 in Afghanistan and four in Nigeria, a country declared free of polio in 2020. In Pakistan and Afghanistan there are still religious problems with vaccination. The Afghan Taliban have openly supported the vaccination program but there are still some rural areas where local Moslem clerics or teachers still denounce the vaccinations. There is a similar situation in Pakistan, where some fringe Islamic groups will still try and kill members of the vaccination teams. Since 2008 over a hundred vaccinators and police escorts have been killed.