May 23, 2012: STRATEGY PAGE
Pakistan has agreed to allow NATO to resume trucking supplies into Afghanistan via Pakistan, but only if an additional fee of $4,750 be paid per cargo container. Most of this cash would go into the pockets of senior officials. That comes to $14 million a month in bribes. The Pakistanis consider this a good deal, because it is costing NATO $38 million a month in additional transportation costs because the Pakistani route is not available. American politicians note that the U.S. has been giving Pakistan over $80 million a month in military aid, so that aid is being withheld and may be cancelled completely if Pakistan does not open the border. The Pakistanis are also aware that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will involve the shipment of over 100,000 containers (and half a billion dollars in loot for Pakistani leaders, not the Pakistani people). So far, NATO and the U.S. refuse to give in to these extortionate demands, which include the U.S. taking the blame for last November's friendly fire incident that left 26 Pakistani soldiers dead. There is a long history of Pakistani troops firing across the border at NATO and Afghan forces. Giving the Pakistanis the apology they demand would be bad for NATO morale, as American and NATO troops are still facing a lack of cooperation from Pakistani forces along the Afghan border.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani military continues fighting selected Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. While these Islamic radicals want to turn Pakistan into a religious dictatorship, an unpopular prospect with most people in the territories, there is widespread anger at the corruption and incompetence of the Pakistani government. Thus while the Islamic terrorists have destroyed several thousand schools in the tribal territories in the last decade (to protest educating girls and secular education in general), a very unpopular tactic, the people are appalled at the inability of the government to stop this violence or rebuild all the destroyed schools. Pakistanis are also angry at continued government support for some Islamic terror groups (that are supposed to restrict their attacks to India or foreigners outside Pakistan, like Western troops in Afghanistan). The problem with this strategy is that these terror groups tend to eventually slip off their leash and attack Pakistanis. Three decades of this military strategy has created a large minority of Pakistanis who are Islamic radicals and who advocate things (no school for girls or jobs for women or entertainment for anyone) that most Pakistanis oppose. At the same time the military feasts off the corruption their power enables them to indulge in. The Pakistani military is supposed to exist to defend Pakistan, but to a growing number of Pakistanis their military is an uncontrollable beast that just feeds off Pakistan.
Several years of fighting in the Pakistani tribal territories has created over half a million refugees and a lot of unhappy civilians. After September 11, 2001, Pakistan had an opportunity to renounce its two decades of support for Islamic terrorism. But the Pakistani generals tried to have it both ways. That approach failed. Now, once NATO leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan will have to deal with Pushtun Islamic radicals (mainly Taliban) on both sides of the border by themselves. Even with a determined effort to eliminate this scourge, it will take a decade or more to deal with it.
Pakistani government incompetence is getting more publicity than the senior officials are comfortable with. Wikileaks documents proved very embarrassing, as they detailed government support for the "secret" American UAV operations over the tribal territories. The officials publicly opposed these UAV operations. Wikileaks also documented a lot of the corruption in Pakistan, and now some retired generals are arguing via the media about rigged elections in the 1990s. This is nothing new for most Pakistanis, but the perpetrators going public about it is. The generals are saying they rigged elections "for the good of the country." But they used the power they obtained to get rich and get away with murder.
Despite the continuing terrorist threat from Pakistan, India is focusing on the military threat from China. The Indian Ocean is of particular concern, with more Chinese warships showing up along with the huge number of Chinese merchant ships already there. So over the next decade, the Indian Navy will receive an average of five new ships a year. This will include aircraft carriers and nuclear subs. While the Chinese fleet is larger, the Chinese have more immediate naval threats (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, America) off their Pacific coast. Thus the Indian buildup is meant to be sufficient to handle anything the Chinese might be able to spare for Indian Ocean mischief.
May 22, 2012: Three senior Pakistani naval officers were punished, for incompetence, because of command failures that enabled a terror attack on a naval base exactly a year ago. At the time six Taliban gunmen got onto a major naval base in Karachi, Pakistan, killed ten people and destroyed two American made P-3C maritime reconnaissance aircraft (worth over $100 million each). All the attackers were killed, but it took the military 17 hours to do so. It was early the following day before the sound of gunfire ended. What was most disturbing about this was that this heavily guarded base was supposed to have a degree of security similar to that provided for the bases where nuclear weapons are stored. While the six Taliban who attacked the naval base were killed, that in itself was scary, as the attackers did not seem concerned about surviving. The attack was later described by the Taliban as an act of revenge for the death of bin Laden. While the navy had three more P-3Cs, the loss of two of them greatly reduced the ability to patrol the long Pakistani coast. The attackers were believed to have had inside help, but the military has not released any information on that (and rarely does.)
In Indian Kashmir, three Islamic terrorists were picked up by sensors as they sought to sneak in from Pakistan. An army patrol was sent to intercept and the resulting gun battle left one terrorist dead and the other two apparently headed back into Pakistan.
Gunmen attacked a political rally in Karachi, Pakistan, leaving 11 dead. Karachi, Pakistan's largest city (18 million), has ethnic and religious violence that is again growing, causing hundreds of casualties a week and chaos in some neighborhoods. The violence has been high all this year, although in the last month the security forces thought they had put a lid on it. The lid is rattling.
In Pakistan's North Waziristan a U.S. UAV killed four Islamic terrorists with a missile.
Indian police attacked a meeting of Maoists in eastern India (Jharkhand), and captured some weapons and equipment, but the twelve Maoist gunmen got away. The police acted on a tip.
May 21, 2012: Indian police arrested two Islamic terrorists in Punjab, and seized three bombs, two timers, three detonators, two Chinese pistols and 11 rounds of ammunition. The explosives came from Pakistan.
May 20, 2012: Pakistan blocked national access to Twitter for most of the day, apparently because of blasphemous (to some Moslems) activity on Twitter. Every day, if not every hour, there is something on Twitter that Islamic conservatives would consider blasphemous. What the Pakistani government particularly dislikes about Twitter is that it is a speedy conduit of reports on bad behavior by the Pakistani government. Shutting Twitter down for a sustained period would be enormously unpopular. Over the past two decades the military has backed off on its efforts to enforce censorship because of public anger. At this point, the government has lost control of most media. Some journalists can be bought or intimidated, but most roam free, sniffing out government misbehavior.
May 19, 2012: In Indian Kashmir, Islamic terrorists made two grenade attacks, wounding four policemen and ten civilians.
May 18, 2012: Maoists in eastern India (Chhattisgarh) attacked the home of a senior politician and were driven off. One bodyguard was killed.
May 17, 2012: Another sign of peace returning to Indian Kashmir is the army announcement that some of the minefields, surrounding eight of its camps, would be removed. This is mainly because there are far fewer Islamic terrorists operating in the area now.
In Pakistan, four pilots were killed when two military aircraft collided during a training exercise. Because if its large number of older Russian and Chinese designed warplanes, Pakistan has a much higher accident rate than Western air forces, or even neighboring India (which also has a lot of Russian warplanes).
May 13, 2012: Maoists in eastern India (Chhattisgarh) ambushed a police patrol and killed six policemen and a civilian driver.