India is becoming more aggressive towards Pakistan because of the continued Pakistani support of Islamic terrorists operating in northwest India. The Pakistan based Islamic terrorists have not been very successful expanding their operations to the rest of India, but they keep trying. The Pakistani backed Islamic terrorism is denied by Pakistan, which cynically has its troops regularly open fire on their Indian counterparts then try to claim the Indians fired first. This sort of thing has been going on for three decades and there are few nations that go along with the Pakistani fantasies. International condemnation has not slowed Pakistan down so India is increasingly sending commandos and warplanes across the border to attack the Pakistani Islamic terrorists before they can attempt a crossing (which some of them succeed at). The major complication in all this is that for the last two decades both nations have had nuclear weapons. Pakistan now insists it would only use its nukes if there were a major non-nuclear Indian attack/invasion of Pakistan.

At the same time, the Pakistani military (which currently controls many senior elected officials) insists any such conventional attack would fail. That is debatable but India prefers to go through the “surgical strike” playbook first. This involves attacking the well-known Islamic terrorist bases just across the border in Pakistani Kashmir and adjacent areas. While difficult for civilians, especially foreigners, to approach on the ground these bases have long been monitored by space satellites. Pakistan tries to hide some of the bases from satellite surveillance but with limited success. Despite the Pakistani military exercising tight control over local media details of what goes on in and around these bases eventually gets out.

India is the world’s largest democracy and has a much more independent mass media than Pakistan. So the popular anger, and pressure on politicians has created a situation in India where politicians who advise caution lose elections. Major attacks in Kashmir, like a February 14th one that left 40 paramilitary police dead, generated popular outrage and Indian media calling for a suitable response (like an airstrike or commando raid). Pakistan threatens similar retaliation with conventional forces but has not yet tried that. Instead, Pakistan orders its Islamic terrorists to increase the violence as much as possible. This is especially the case now that Pakistan has gotten its own Islamic terrorist violence problem under control. Yet while the Pakistani military continues to suppress local Islamic terrorist violence, it seeks to increase Islamic terrorist activity in Afghanistan and India. The Afghanistan meddling is relatively risk-free while the violence against India is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Both Pakistan and India had about the same number of deaths in 2018 from rebels and Islamic terrorists. For both countries, it was just under a thousand such deaths. That was good news for Pakistan, which has greatly reduced their losses from local Islamic terrorist violence since 2014. India has seen deaths increase over the last few years as Pakistan increased its attacks on Indian border guards (and any civilians in the immediate vicinity) along with sending more Pakistani based Islamic terrorists into Kashmir and encouraging more local violence there. Thus deaths in Kashmir were about 450 in 2018, up a bit from 2017 and because of increased Pakistani activity not likely to decline. Meanwhile, the usual causes of deaths for India, leftist rebels in eastern India and tribal separatists in the northeast, continue to decline. Yet so far this year India has kept overall deaths below 2018 levels, despite the February attack that killed 40 policemen. India has made great progress in reducing the tribal separatist and communist rebel violence in eastern and northeastern India. These two have always been the major causes of internal violence and resulting deaths. In Pakistan, it was always Islamic terrorism, most of it Muslim against Muslim.

In 2014, when the Pakistani army finally decided to shut down sanctuaries for Islamic terror groups not under military control (like the ones in Pakistani Kashmir), there were 5,496 Islamic terror-related deaths in Pakistan and the Pakistani public was enraged at the military over this. In 2015 that Islamic terror-related deaths in Pakistan dropped to 3,682, then to 1,803 in 2016, 1260 in 2017 and throughout 2018 it looked like these deaths would fall under a thousand and they did just that. These are low casualty levels not seen in Pakistan since 2003. The military is under a lot of pressure to keep it that way.

India, with six times as many people, has had terror-related deaths under a thousand a year since 2012 and most of those have nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. That trend continues, despite increased Pakistani efforts in Kashmir. For 2018 India had more terror-related deaths but the overall total was still under a thousand. In 2017, for the first time in many years, India had more fatalities from Islamic terrorism than from leftist rebels in eastern India. But if you added deaths from tribal separatists in the northeast the Islamic terrorism only accounted for 45 percent of deaths. That trend has reverted to the traditional one in 2018, with Islamic terror-related deaths lower. This is mainly because Islamic terror-related deaths will not increase much for 2018 while deaths related to the leftist rebels (Maoists) in eastern India are up (mainly among the Maoists and their civilian victims).

The big difference between the Kashmir casualties compared to everything else (communist rebels in eastern India and the tribal separatists in the northeast) is that only the Kashmir Islamic terrorists have outside help. Pakistan has been supporting violence in Kashmir for over 60 years and added Islamic terrorism support in the 1980s. That failed to make much difference but it did ruin the Kashmir economy and Pakistan continued to get enough Islamic terrorists (recruited and trained in Pakistan) across the LOC (Line of Control) into Indian Kashmir to keep the area “dangerous” for tourists or investment.

Then Pakistan realised that a new generation of Kashmiri Muslims had access to the Internet and Pakistan created a local fan (of Pakistan ruling Kashmir rather than India) that eventually achieved celebrity status. When this young guy (Burhan Wani) got himself killed in 2016 he was elevated to martyr status and suddenly made Kashmiri street violence a regular thing and Islamic terrorism fashionable once more. At that point, economic recovery became even less likely and casualties increased. For the first time in many years, local recruits for Islamic terror groups were higher than trained ones able to get across the LOC from Pakistan. In the last decade, Indian border security has greatly improved but the LOC is largely in rugged terrain that is thinly populated. So it is not a certain death to make the crossing. But with a larger number of active Islamic terrorists on the Indian side of the LOC, those getting across from Pakistan have a longer life expectancy. This means more Islamic terrorist violence in Kashmir. While the Islamic terrorists try to confine their attacks to the security forces there are still civilian bystanders getting killed and with more Islamic terrorists active there is more opportunity to murder locals who support the government and don’t want to be part of Pakistan.

This Pakistani aggression in Kashmir is pushing the two nations towards war, despite the possibility of both sides using nukes. This has brought more pressure on the Pakistani military to behave but so far the Pakistani generals are resisting the popular pressure inside Pakistan for less violence on the Indian border. The Pakistani generals see Kashmir as a victory for Pakistan, but one that Pakistan cannot take proper credit for because supporting Islamic terrorism and sending those Islamic terrorists into India (and Afghanistan) is a violation of international law. While the Pakistani military denies culpability the evidence has piled up to the extent that most of the world is convinced that the Pakistani military is, indeed, violating international norms and supporting Islamic terrorism.

The Chinese Arrangement

Pakistan told China that, for the right incentives, Pakistan could control and manipulate their local Islamic zealots. That proved more difficult than anticipated and while the 2014 campaign against the local Islamic terrorists (the extremists among the Islamic conservatives the Saudis created) reduced the number of Pakistani Islamic terrorists seeking to replace the current government (a democracy dominated by the military) with a religious dictatorship, those zealots have become a permanent part of Pakistani society. This has caused problems with neighbours like Iran (Pakistani zealots kill Pakistani Shia), China (Pakistani zealots attack Chinese investments and the Chinese running them) and India (Pakistani zealots seek to terrorise India and seize control of Kashmir and eventually all of India). These neighbours have become increasingly forceful in their demands that the Pakistani government do something about this. Pakistan placates the Iranians by refusing to provide military assistance to the Arabs in Yemen, or against any Iranian military operation directed at the Gulf Arabs. Now Pakistan has to deal with increasingly angry Arabs who threatened to halt the cash infusions that the Pakistani economy increasingly depends on. The Chinese demand quick and effective action against Pakistan supported Islamic terrorists who threaten Chinese investments. This was one of the reasons for the 2014 campaign against many of the Islamic terror groups operating from Pakistani bases. Pakistan had hoped the Chinese would replace the Arabs as a source of cash support but the Chinese don’t operate that way. China makes investments and does not provide cash gifts like the Arabs and, until recently, the Americans did. The United States has halted all cash support for Pakistan because the Pakistanis would not shut down Islamic terror groups that attacked American interests. Now the Pakistanis know that if the Chinese feel they are being played, like the Americans were, the Chinese will not be patient or forgiving. The Americans are no longer as accommodating as they used to be and the Iranians never were. India is a nuclear power with a larger army and economy than Pakistan. India is also losing patience and threatening war. Pakistan has to worry about too many past mistakes catching up with them at once. China has told Pakistan openly that China is not an ally or protector of Pakistan. China is a business partner and as long as business continues there will be a Chinese presence in Pakistan. The same rules are applied to everyone else. China does business with Iran and the Sunni Arab states Iran is at war with. Same with Russia and Ukraine. China will make some efforts to protect its investments but is reluctant to send in troops, or free money.

Erasing India

India has not been forgotten by the Chinese. Recently Chinese customs officials discovered a shipment of 30,000 world maps being exported by a Chinese printer to a foreign customer. The maps were seized and destroyed when it was discovered that the maps showed the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. China demands that all maps used or produced in China show Arunachal Pradesh as “Southern Tibet” and part of China. Same with Taiwan, which is also considered another prodigal province.

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