11 December 2016

India-Pakistan: Burma Blues For Bangladesh

December 7, 2016: In northwest India (Kashmir) the border violence continues. The Kashmir separatists, who have cooperated with the Pakistan backed Islamic terrorists and the Indian government as needed, are now calling for tourists to return, including Indian Hindus who for centuries have come here to worship at the many Hindu shrines in the area. The separatists, who have the support of many, if not most, Moslems in Kashmir say tourists will not be harmed. But that has not been the case in the past. While most Kashmiri Moslems would still like to live in an independent Kashmir, that is unlikely to happen. The main reason why is because of those Hindu shrines, and majority Hindu India does not trust a Moslem government to safeguard them, or guarantee safe access for Hindu pilgrims. The Moslem independence groups continue to be active in Kashmir, organizing demonstrations and strikes. These activities are unpopular with many Kashmiris because they interfere with the returning tourists. In the early 1990s, before the Pakistani Islamic terror campaign got into high gear, Kashmir was quite prosperous because of tourism. Older Kashmiris want to get that back but it is unlikely to happen as long as Pakistan sponsors Islamic terrorist groups across the border in Pakistani Kashmir. 

Meanwhile the Kashmir border violence by Pakistani troops was way up this year, as it was along the entire Indian border. But half the 500 ceasefire border violations in 2016 were in Kashmir. These incidents escalated in mid-August and that ended a ceasefire arranged in April when two days of cross border shooting ended when commanders from both countries met and agreed to resume the 2003 ceasefire. Until April it had been over six months since the last such incident. There were 405 incidents like this in 2015. In December 2015 Indian and Pakistani military leaders met on the Kashmir border to reaffirm efforts to reduce violence on the LOC (Line of Control) in Kashmir. Such incidents still occur despite a 20o3 ceasefire. The current LOC negotiations have kept things pretty quiet on the LOC since a September 2015 meeting in which India threatened a major military response to almost daily Pakistani attacks. Apparently convinced (especially by the Indian politicians and media calling for war) this was serious the Pakistanis reduced the border violence although not the efforts to get Islamic terrorists across the LOC and into Kashmir. Because of internal politics in Pakistan the Pakistani army revived the border violence. This is all about the continuing battle between elected Pakistani politicians and the military over the threat from India. The Pakistani generals justify their large budget and numerous other privileges by the need to deal with the Indian threat. But there is no Indian threat. The Pakistani military refuses to accept that and the border erupts once more as the Pakistani generals try to create a threat. 

Terrorism Trends 

Eastern India experienced an unexpected reduction in Leftist rebel (Maoist) terrorist activity in the wake of the surprise November 8th announcement that all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were worthless and people had until December 30th to turn in the old notes for the new ones. The 1,000 rupee note is worth about $15 and the favorite form of currency for terrorists, corrupt politicians and criminals of all sorts. The government was criticized for how they handled the currency exchange but after two weeks the initial chaos largely subsided and it was possible to note the impact on terrorist operations. Overall terrorist activity was down, especially in eastern India (Maoists) and the northwest (Kashmir Islamic terrorists). The Maoists were hit hardest and surrenders hit record levels with the former Maoists reporting that for many of their fellow revolutionaries the massive loss of cash was very demoralizing and more Maoists can be expected to surrender. This accelerates a trend that has been under way for several years and has led the Maoists to spend most of their time raising cash via extortion and other schemes. The basic problem for the Maoists is that after fifty years of futile fighting the revolution has lost its popular appeal. The Maoist movement has seen their membership decline from 12,000 to about 8,000 since 2007. The senior leadership has suffered even heavier losses. The Indian Maoists have no outside support while the Islamic terrorists have long, and very visibly been based in Pakistan. Nevertheless the Maoists this year are reversing several years of decline (in Maoist related violence). In 2015 there were 251 deaths related to Maoist violence, the lowest level in over a decade. But so far this year it looks like Maoist violence will increased about 40 percent going back to levels not seen since 2014. This is mainly because of the failure to deal with the corruption that kept the Maoists popular enough for decades to keep them going. Despite these increases overall terrorism related deaths for India will be about the same in 2016 as they were when 722 died in 2015. 

Outside of India a lot has not changed when it comes to terrorism. Five nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria) continue to account for most of the terrorism related deaths in 2015 (72 percent), as has been the case since 2013. Four Islamic terrorist organizations (ISIL, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban) account for nearly 70 percent of all terrorist deaths. Many of the lesser terror groups are also Islamic. In fact, of the top ten nations by terrorist activity (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines and Thailand) only India and the Philippines had a significant minority of terrorist deaths that were not carried out by Moslems. In those two countries the minority terrorists were leftist rebels who had not noticed the collapse of radical socialism in 1989. 

Pakistan reduced Islamic terrorist activity inside Pakistan for the second year in a row. In 2016 terrorist related deaths were down nearly 40 percent and experienced the lowest number of terrorism activity since 2008. Pakistan carried out all this counter-terrorism activity mainly in self-defense. The military, which tolerates or supports many Islamic terror groups, is under growing pressure to shut down all Islamic terrorists in the country. Many military officers resist that because they believe, for religious or economic reasons that some Islamic terrorists must still be protected (so they can attack India and Afghanistan.) It is getting harder and harder to defend that position. America, India and Afghanistan are leading that effort and Pakistani government denials no longer work at all. American officials have bluntly told the Pakistanis recently that unless all the Islamic terrorists were targeted there would be no resumption of American military aid. The U.S. has provided Pakistan with $33 billion in aid since 2001 and is fed up with Pakistani refusals to shut down Islamic terror groups that operate against Afghanistan and India but not Pakistan. The campaign in North Waziristan has reduced Islamic terrorist activity (1,800 dead) to levels not seen since 2006 (1,500 dead). Yet that is still much higher than India, a nation with six times the population but half the terrorism (most of it non-Moslem) deaths suffered by Pakistan. In other words, adjusted for population size there is still twelve times as many terrorism deaths in Pakistan. 

In what used to be the other half of Pakistan (Bangladesh) 2016 has been a bad year for Islamic terrorism. Compared to 2014-15 Islamic terrorism deaths doubled in Bangladesh. Yet compared to Pakistan (with a ten percent larger population) Bangladesh still had only ten percent of the terrorist deaths suffered in Pakistan. The spike in Islamic terrorist activity for Bangladesh this year has been traced back to external sources. The most obvious one was Pakistan but police have concluded that the largest Islamic terrorist attack of 2016 (in July) was also largely triggered by external events. It was initially though that this attack was entirely a local operation by JMB (Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh). While ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) took credit for the July 1 attack those who carried it out belonged to JMB, which has been around since 1998 and wants to turn Bangladesh into a religious dictatorship. JMB turned to violence in 2005 and has been at war with the government ever since. As police interviewed more JMB members it because clear that ISIL was a major factor in making the July attack happen. Bangladesh also blames Pakistan for supporting Islamic terrorism within Bangladesh. This goes back to a 1971 uprising in Bangladesh that led to a war between Pakistan and India. Many Pakistani military leaders see this 1971 loss as a major reason for continued Pakistani hostility towards India. Not only was the Pakistani army decisively defeated in 1971, but the country lost much territory (which actively sought to secede and became Bangladesh). Former Pakistani military commander and dictator (via another coup) Pervez Musharraf admitted in late 2014 that he started the 1999 Kargil border war with India as another attempt to avenge the defeat (and loss of Bangladesh) in 1971. Pakistani officers (and many other Pakistanis) have always attributed the loss of Bangladesh to an Indian conspiracy with traitorous politicians in Bangladesh (that used to be called East Pakistan). Bangladesh calls that conspiracy theory absurd and that the real reason for the rebellion was corruption and incompetent government imposed by troops from “West Pakistan” (which after 1971 was all that remained of pre-1971 Pakistan). 

Bangladesh is also having a problem with its eastern neighbor Burma as over 22,000 Burmese Moslems have fled to Bangladesh since October. Bangladesh borders Burma’s Rakhine State which contains a lot of Burmese Rohingya Moslems. While Bangladesh has arrested a few Pakistan trained Rohingya Islamic terrorists the Rohingya have largely avoided Islamic terrorism. But in Burma the Rohingya, who trace their origin to Bangladesh, have suffered increased persecution in Burma since the 1980s, and especially since the 2011 Burmese elections that restored democracy. There are already over 200,000 Burmese Rohingya in Burma, most of them illegal migrants. 


Despite growing problems with taking control of the South China Sea Chinese troops continue cause problems along the border of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. These incidents are not supposed to happen at all because of agreements China and India negotiated in 2013 and 2014. Because of that China claims recent incursions were accidents and point out that their troops leave as soon as India contacts China (per the border agreements) and China is able to contact the border troops involved. There have been fewer of these incursions since 2014. Meanwhile India continues to move more troops into the area and build facilities to support them. India recently activated the sixth of eight military airfields in the sparsely populated provinces. All eight of these bases are to be operational by the end of the year. Each can handle large transports (like the new American C-17s India bought) and has a control tower and room for rapid expansion. 

China still claims to own Arunachal Pradesh and has always maintained that the 3,500 kilometer long border between India and Chinese Tibet (1,126 of with Arunachal Pradesh) was only temporary. Since 2010 China has been more aggressive about changing it. In 2014 China protested India building roads near the Chinese border in northeastern India. The roads were in an area that 2014 Chinese maps depicted as within China’s borders. This is just another escalation in a long-running border dispute over who owns areas like Arunachal Pradesh. In this part of northeast India there are few, if any, ethnic Chinese. The locals know that a Chinese takeover would mean drastic changes because the first thing China does in places like this is move in a lot of ethnic (Han) Chinese and marginalize the natives. This rarely ends well for the locals. While these Chinese claims have been on the books for decades, since 2000 China has become more vocal, and physical, about it. That's one reason India has been rapidly increasing its defense spending. But since both nations have nuclear weapons, a major war over these border disputes is unlikely. Constant Chinese pressure is another matter. China is applying the same tactic in all its recently activated territorial claims. Constant pressure while avoiding anything that might trigger a war is seen by China as a slow but certain way to secure its claims.

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