Taliban Challenged by Uptick of Islamic State–Khorasan Province Attacks

Taliban Humvee in Kabul


“The Taliban government has said that it has defeated the Daesh group and will not allow the terrorist organization to use the territory of Afghanistan to pose any threat to other countries… At the same time, the spokesperson of the US Department of State said that the Taliban should remain committed to the fight against terrorism.”


Despite counterterrorism efforts by the Taliban, the Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-KP) has been responsible for a series of attacks in Afghanistan since the new year. According to the first excerpted article from Pashto-language public service news Radio Azadi, the Taliban previously stated it had defeated IS-KP; however, recent activity by the group indicates otherwise. Since its inception in 2014, IS-KP has conducted bombing and suicide attacks against both civilian and government targets, mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, resulting in an estimated 309 fatalities in 2021.[i] In January 2024, IS-KP claimed responsibility for detonating an improvised explosive device in Kabul, killing two civilians and wounding 14 more. This was the second IS-KP bombing in Afghanistan in less than a week.[ii] These attacks followed the highly publicized IS-KP–-claimed attack in Kerman, Iran, on 4 January, which killed as many as 84 people and injured scores more. Iran called it the single deadliest attack in the country since 1979.

Recent reporting suggests Afghanistan is once again being used as a terrorist training ground—this time by IS-KP rather than al-Qaeda. According to the second excerpted article from the Saudi news source Independent, two IS-KP suicide bombers were arrested in Pakistan and accused of planning to bomb the leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and National Awami political parties.[iii] The captured bombers admitted to receiving training in the Paktia province in Afghanistan, a remote area that shares a border with Pakistan. The article further notes that counterterrorism talks continue between Pakistan and Afghanistan, intended to decrease tension resulting from disagreements on how to handle Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders currently residing in Afghanistan. Although weakened, IS-KP appears able to continue to stage attacks in Afghanistan and the region at large. The Taliban is situated in a delicate position in the region, with any potential missteps in its counterterrorism strategy leading to an IS-KP resurgence. Internal disputes in the Taliban government have led to some Tajik Taliban members in the northern part of Afghanistan being investigated for links to IS-KP. Additionally, the Taliban does not appear to have any intention to reconcile with communities formerly linked with IS-KP, which could be a source of additional recruits for the organization. Finally, there is an ongoing concern among TTP leadership about members potentially defecting to IS-KP should the group’s jihad in Pakistan end.[iv]


Sources:

 “کابل کې د ۲۰۲۴ کال لومړۍ چاودنه او د ملکیانو مرګ ژوبله (The first explosion of 2024 in Kabul and civilian casualties),” Radio Azadi (Radio Free Europe Affiliate), Accessed 13 January 2024. https://pa.azadiradio.com/a/32763886.html

At least two civilians were killed, and 14 others were injured in the first explosion of 2024 in Afghanistan, which took place in Dasht Barchi, a Shia-populated area west of Kabul. Khaled Zadran, the spokesman of the Taliban government’s Kabul police headquarters, said in a statement late yesterday that a caster-type vehicle was targeted in the blast. He announced the beginning of the investigation regarding this incident, for which no one has accepted responsibility. Before this, the Khorasan province branch of the Islamic State group or Daesh has accepted responsibility for some deadly attacks in the west of Kabul.

In the month of November, there was an explosion in Dasht Barchi that killed at least 7 people, and the responsibility was taken by Daesh, the Khorasan branch of the Islamic State group. According to the report of Agence France-Presse, although the level of insecurity has greatly increased after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, some armed groups, such as the Khorasan branch of the Islamic State group, or Daesh, are still considered a serious threat. The Daesh group also claimed responsibility for the killing of Dawood Muzamal, the Taliban governor for Balkh, last year. He was killed in a bomb attack in his office.

The Taliban government has said that it has defeated the Daesh group and will not allow the terrorist group to use the territory of Afghanistan to pose any threat to other countries. According to the report of the French news agency, the Acting Minister of Defense of the Taliban, Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, last week announced a 90 percent decrease in the attacks of the Daesh group during the last year in Kabul. This is while the intelligence of the United States of America has said that the Daesh group in Afghanistan is involved in the bombings of the city of Kerman, Iran, last Wednesday. Two well-informed sources told the Reuters news agency last Friday that the communication information collected by the US proves that this attack, which killed nearly 100 people, was carried out by two attackers from the Khorasan province branch of the Islamic State group or Daesh… Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has denied this report while talking to the media. He said that ISIS has no capacity or presence in Afghanistan to plan any attack in Iran. At the same time, the spokesperson of the US Department of State said that the Taliban should remain committed to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan…

Last Wednesday, January 3rd, explosions took place in Kerman city of Iran during the ceremony of Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of IRGC Quds Force. Iran has called it the deadliest attack in the country since 1979. A day after the incident, the Islamic State or Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday and said that two of its members planted explosives on their bodies. The group did not say that this was done by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group or Daesh…


“بازداشت دو مهاجم انتحاری داعش «آموزش‌دیده در افغانستان» در پاکستان (Two ISIS suicide bombers ‘trained in Afghanistan’ were arrested in Pakistan),” Independent Persian (Persian language Saudi Research and Marketing Group Agency media outlet), 13 January 2024. https://www.independentpersian.com/node/382361/

Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department said on Friday, January 12, that two suicide bombers belonging to the Khorasan branch of the Islamic State (ISIS), who planned to attack Maulana Fazl-ul-Rehman, the leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Party, and Amil Wali Khan, the leader of the National Awami Party of that country, have been arrested. According to the Express Tribune, Najmul Hasnain Liaqat, one of the senior officials of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism department, said in a press conference in Peshawar that the two suicide bombers were arrested in Peshawar and two suicide vests, three hand grenades, and some explosives were recovered from them.

The official of the Anti-Terrorism Department said that the explosives of these suicide attackers have been neutralized, and they have confessed to planning suicide attacks against Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman and Emil Wali Khan in the initial investigations.He said that these two ISIS suicide bombers were trained in Paktia province in Afghanistan and then went to Pakistan. Pakistan’s counter-terrorism department has not provided a document about the suicide training of these two ISIS members in Afghanistan. Taliban officials have not commented on this matter so far. But the Taliban deny training terrorists, including ISIS, in Afghanistan.

The Taliban call their suicide bombers “martyrs”. These forces have been trained in the training centers of the Taliban in such a way that they are ready to kill themselves to achieve the “dream of reaching heaven”. Among these suicide forces, there are a large number of young people who are waiting in line for a suicide attack and blowing themselves up on the way to the Taliban’s targets… Recently, ISIS has launched explosive and suicide attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman traveled to Afghanistan on Sunday, and met with Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Hasan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban, Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the political deputy of the prime minister of the Taliban, Amir Khan Motaghi, the foreign minister of the Taliban, Mullah Yaqub, the minister of defense of the Taliban, and other officials. Jamiat Ulema Pakistan has claimed that Mullah Yaqoob told Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman that the Taliban do not distinguish between themselves and Pakistan, and Mullah Yaqoob has expressed hope that the tension between the Taliban and Pakistan will decrease…The tension between the government of Pakistan and the Taliban regime has been formed in connection with how to deal with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The government of Pakistan wants the Taliban to hand over the leaders of the TTP inside the territory of Afghanistan and not to allow this group to use the territory of that country to attack. But on the other hand, Taliban reject the presence of foreign terrorists like TTP in Afghanistan. Senior Taliban officials have repeatedly said that TTP is Pakistan’s internal problem and that country must deal with it. Following the domination of the Taliban over Afghanistan, the number of explosive and terrorist attacks in Pakistan has increased. TTP and its allied groups are responsible for most of these attacks. ISIS is also trying to increase attacks in Pakistan. America has described the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan as a serious threat to the region and the world.


Notes:

[i] For additional information on IS-K’s history, ideology, tactics, and a summarized threat assessment, visit: Catrina Doxsee, and Jared Thompson. “Examining Extremism: Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP),” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8 September 2021. https://www.csis.org/blogs/examining-extremism/examining-extremism-islamic-state-khorasan-province-iskp

[ii] See: “داعش مسئولیت دومین انفجار مرگبار در کابل را هم بر عهده گرفت (ISIS also claimed responsibility for the second deadly explosion in Kabul),” Radio Farda, 9 January 2024. https://www.radiofarda.com/a/kabul-isis/32768439.html

[iii] Pakistan’s parliamentary election is scheduled for 8 February 2024. A detailed list of political parties and their political affiliations published by the UK Government can be found here: “Country Policy and Information Note Pakistan: Political Parties and Affiliation,” Home Office UK Government, May 2023. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/645cb936ad8a03000c38b295/PAK_CPIN_Political_parties_and_affiliation.pdf

[iv] The ICCT published a recent analysis on the potential resurgence of IS-KP and the Taliban’s counterterrorism efforts at: Antonio Giustozzi. “The Islamic State in Khorasan between Taliban counter-terrorism and resurgence prospects,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, January 30, 2024. https://www.icct.nl/publication/islamic-state-khorasan-between-taliban-counter-terrorism-and-resurgence-prospects


Image Information:

Image: Taliban Humvee in Kabul
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taliban_Humvee_in_Kabul,_August_2021_(cropped).png
Attribution: Public Domain


Pakistan Deporting Approximately 1.7 Million Undocumented Afghanis in Response to Terrorist Attacks

Flag of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan


“Suppose that the Pakistani government succeeds in deporting all Afghan refugees, will terrorism be eradicated? Obviously not.”


Pakistan continues to struggle with a series of terror attacks, leading the government to resort to mass deportations of Afghan refugees to curb the violence. According to the first excerpted article from the Pashto-language version of the German media company Deutsche Welle, terrorists carried out four separate attacks in Pakistan between 3 and 6 November 2023. The attacks, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan provinces, resulted in the deaths of 17 soldiers, five civilians, with another 24 wounded. The article notes that ten militants were killed in response, and “security forces have received Afghan ID cards from six of the militants killed in the Zhob [Balochistan] attack.” Amid rising tensions due to the ongoing acts of terrorism, the regional government of the Balochistan province alleged that both border nations, Iran and Afghanistan, were involved in recent attacks to increase political pressure on Pakistan. No evidence was provided to substantiate these allegations. Pakistan’s proposed solution to counter the ongoing violence inside its borders includes the deportation of approximately 1.7 million undocumented Afghanis, some of whom have lived in Pakistan for up to 40 years, according to the second excerpt from the independent Afghan news outlet Hasht e Subh. As of December 2023, over 400,000 have left Pakistan.[i] A majority of the remaining refugees currently reside in either the Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces that border Afghanistan.[ii] The article notes that Pakistan has not been able to successfully contain the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP)) and has frequently accused the Afghan refugee population of collaborating with the TTP. The article alleges that the Pakistani military has used both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban to further its own geopolitical agenda when convenient. Some Afghan refugees allege that the Pakistani government is committing acts of terrorism by expelling them from the land. A mass deportation of a long-standing population may also lead to an increase in grievances by that community and possibly increased support for the TTP and other like-minded groups, resulting in additional terrorist attacks.[iii] The mass expulsion of undocumented refugees has already created a burden on both the Afghan and Pakistani governments from an economic and human rights perspective.


Sources:

“پاکستان: په ۴۸ ساعتونو کې وسله والو ۴ بریدونه کړي دي (Pakistan: Militants have carried out 4 attacks in 48 hours),” Deutsche Welle (German news site), 6 November 2023. https://p.dw.com/p/4YRJH

According to security sources, militants carried out another attack in The Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtounkhwa yesterday, but this is the fourth attack on Pakistani security forces in the past 48 hours. Last night, police raided a police checkpoint in Ismail Khan district with heavy weapons. The exchange between the police and the armed forces lasted about half an hour, but the militants eventually fled. Police say they have cordoned off the area and are searching for suspected attackers. In the past three days, terrorists have carried out major attacks in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtounkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan provinces, killing 17 security forces, five civilians and wounding about 24 others, including police. Police claimed to have killed 10 people in the attack.

In recent days, attacks in different parts of Pakistan have increased. In the wake of the latest incidents, Balochistan’s regional government has claimed that two neighbouring countries are involved in the terrorist attacks because they want to pressure Pakistan. Balochistan’s Acting Information Minister, Jan Achakzai, told a news conference on Sunday that Pakistan was facing attacks “on both sides” but that it could not undermine the government’s will to defeat terrorists. He claimed that security forces had obtained identification cards from six of the militants killed in the attack. John Achakzai accused India of spreading insecurity in the region and that India’s intelligence agency, “Ro” is “involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan.” Referring to the two terrorist attacks last week, he said: “We have repeatedly mentioned that India is involved in the terrorist attacks in the country, especially in Balochistan.”


“د کډوالو په اېستلو سره په پاکستان کې ترهګري له منځه نه ځي (Terrorism in Pakistan will not disappear by expelling refugees)” Hasht e Subh (independent Afghan news site), 5 November 2023. https://8am.media/ps/terrorism-in-pakistan-will-not-disappear-by-expelling-refugees/

The interim government of Pakistan has started deporting Afghan refugees en masse, which has provoked widespread protests. The interim prime minister of Pakistan has emphasized that all those illegal Afghan refugees who have been living in Pakistan for the past 40 years will be deported. This move has deepened the crisis which is not new for the Afghans and they have been dealing with it for decades. With the rule of the Taliban, the crisis of immigration has not decreased, but has expanded and increased… This has caused citizens to move to neighboring countries. This is not the only result of the arrival of the Taliban. The strengthening of terrorist groups and the development of their activities is also one of the destructive consequences of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan… The government of Pakistan, which is unable to control the TTP and has not given the desired result to the pressure on the Afghan Taliban to suppress this group, has increased the pressure on the Afghan refugees and accuses the Afghan refugees of terrorist attacks… There is no doubt that the Taliban is involved in many terrorist attacks in Pakistan and will continue to be in the future. But it cannot be that all Afghan refugees are considered terrorists or collaborators of terrorists and the solution is to seek their deportation. In reality, Afghan refugees have not only played an important role in the growth and strengthening of terrorism, but are considered the primary victims of the development of terrorist groups’ activities.

The terrorism that the government of Pakistan is using to expel Afghan refugees from their land today is the result of the deadly game that the soldiers of this country have skillfully played for years and the result was full of benefits for them. Thanks to the terrorist industry managed by the Pakistani army, the people of this country have not seen a stable civilian government and the army has control over all affairs. Terrorism is actually a pretense through which the soldiers introduce themselves as the saviors of Pakistan. If they are not there, the country will become food for wolves… It is not yet clear whether the TTP, as well as the Afghan Taliban, have really escaped the control of the Pakistani army or not; But what can’t be doubted is that the main threat to Pakistan is the soldiers, or to put it bluntly, the managers of the terrorist industry, not the Afghan refugees or the Pashtuns of this country. The Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line are the main victims of terrorism trained by the Pakistan Army.In the last few decades, one of the important tasks of the religious seminaries established in Pakistan with the support of the army was the training of the hard-line jihadi generation, who as proxy soldiers of the ESA during the invasion of the Soviet Union and also during the presence of the American forces in Afghanistan, the Pakistani army overthrew the western-backed government in Afghanistan and established its own proxy regime in the country. But now that the jihad in Afghanistan is over, according to the terrorists, how and where will the thousands of jihadists trained in the religious schools of Pakistan quench their thirst for jihad… Suppose that the Pakistani government succeeds in deporting all Afghan refugees, will terrorism be eradicated? Obviously not. The main supporter of terrorism in Pakistan is the army, which is in control of the entire country, and thus, the main source of terrorism in Pakistan is religious madrassas, which continue to operate whether they are children of Afghan refugees or not. and the army does not care about them. Are only Afghans committing suicide attacks? No. Pakistanis are ahead of Afghans in terrorism and extremism…


Notes:

[i] A supplemental report by the Associated Press detailing recent updates in the deportation of undocumented Afghanis in Pakistan: Sattar, Abdul and Munir Ahmed. “A Pakistani province aims to deport 10,000 Afghans a day,” Associated Press, November 30, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/pakistan-baluchistan-deport-migrants-afghans-7393238ace4c49acce9d7c77ebd708bf

[ii] For additional information on Afghan refugees in Pakistan, please visit the United Nations Refugee data website: “Registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan” United Nations Operational Data Portal. https://data.unhcr.org/en/country/pak

[iii] To learn more about the potential impact of grievances and their effect on terrorism globally, see:

Murphy, Natalie. “Why Grievances Matter: An Analysis of the Influence Grievances Have on Domestic Terrorism Globally,” Johns Hopkins University, [Thesis] May 2022. https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/server/api/core/bitstreams/0f722198-6850-4d16-8250-5fcad421430b/content


Image Information:

Image: Flag of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_the_Tehrik-i-Taliban_Pakistan.png#globalusage
Attribution: Public Domain


Pakistan Struggles In The Tri-Border Region After Multiple Terrorist Attacks

Location of the Mastung district in Balochistan, Pakistan.


“Recently, the insecurity and activities of militants have increased in different parts of Balochistan, and a number of security forces, government employees, and civilians have been killed in attacks and clashes.”


As attention turns to developing terrorism trends in other regions of the world, Pakistan has recently suffered a series of deadly suicide attacks in its Balochistan province. [i]

 According to the first excerpted article from the London-based, Afghan-run independent news outlet Afghanistan International, on 29 September, 59 people were killed, and more than 60 were injured, in a suicide attack during the Milad al-Nabi ceremony in Mastung, Balochistan. Milad al-Nabi is an important Muslim holiday celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.[ii] The Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) quickly condemned the attack and denied responsibility, claiming they provided information to Pakistan’s intelligence agency before the bombing. While the TTP denied this bombing, the pro-Pashtun group has been responsible for multiple deadly attacks in the province, as well as the greater Balochistan region.[iii] No group has claimed responsibility for this attack, though Pakistan’s Acting Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti claimed India was involved.

The second excerpt from the Pashto language branch of Radio Free Europe, Mashal Radio, describes some of the complex issues that Pakistan’s Balochistan province is facing. In addition to TTP activity, the Islamic State (IS) and Baloch separatist groups like the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) have claimed responsibility for multiple recent attacks.[iv] Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department conducted kinetic operations in the area, killing a prominent IS member days before the bombing in Mastung. Hours after the Mastung attack, an additional suicide bombing was conducted in Doaba, a small city in the Hangu district of Pakistan. It is currently unclear whether the attacks are related. Recent attacks in Balochistan province – as well as the greater tri-border region – have created a delicate security situation. The Taliban, IS, and Baloch separatist groups conducting attacks in the same area make it difficult for counterterrorism units to combat them effectively and accurately attribute attacks to the appropriate groups. Although Pakistan has stepped up counterterrorism efforts in its own province, the larger Balochistan region is remote and challenging for each country to police. Terrorist groups can base their operations out of Afghanistan or Iran and conduct attacks in Pakistan, with little ability for Pakistan to conduct follow-up operations inside bordering nations. If these groups gain a permanent foothold in the greater Balochistan region, transnational groups could use the area to coordinate international attacks or further destabilize the relationship between Pakistan and India.


Sources:

“المرصاد: طالبانو د بلوچستان د برید په هکله له پاکستان سره معلومات شریک کړي وو

(Al-Mursad: The Taliban had shared information with Pakistan about the attack in Balochistan),” Afghanistan International (London based Afghan run independent news outlet), 1 October 2023. https://www.afintl.com/pa/202310018517

Al-Mursad, a website close to the Taliban, says that the group had shared the information about the Baluchistan attack and other similar attacks and the names of those involved with Pakistan’s intelligence…. The previous day, 59 people were killed and 60 were injured in a suicide attack on the Milad al-Nabi ceremony in Mastung, Balochistan. Pakistan’s Acting Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said in Quetta yesterday that India is involved in the Balochistan attacks. But al-Mursad says, reliable evidence shows that Pakistan is carrying out the project of raising and strengthening ISIS as a proxy organization in Afghanistan and the region…. They [Al-Mursad] add in their report that Balochistan is considered a large and lawless area for ISIS in this country. Even before this, Daesh has claimed responsibility for some attacks in Balochistan, the last of which was Hafiz Ahmad, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, in Swabi last month. ISIS has not yet said anything about the Mustang attack.


Terin, Ayub, Majeed Babar, Shahin Buneri, Daud Khattak, “د مستونګ چاودنه کې لسګونه کسان وژل شوي دي

(Dozens of people were killed in the Mustang explosion),” Mashal Radio, 29 September 2023. https://www.mashaalradio.com/a/eid-miladunnabi-explosion-in-mastung-many-killed/32615419.html

[H]e did not say anything about the nature of the explosion, but the Reuters news agency quoted a police official, Munir Ahmed, as saying that the suicide bomber detonated near the “Madina Mosque” when people were attending the Milad ceremony. Achakzai said the government declared a state of emergency in the hospitals of Quetta after the incident…. A few hours after the explosion in Mastung, a number of people were killed in a suicide attack in Doaba, Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the attacks in Doba and Mastung in a statement on September 20. The statement says that the organization’s Secretary General Hussain Ibrahim Taha condemns “any form of terrorism” and expresses “full support for Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism.” This is while 11 people, including the spokesman and former senator Hafiz Hamdullah,were injured in a bomb blast in Mastung on September 14. The police had said at that time that Hamdullah’s convoy was going towards the Mustang from Quetta when an explosion occurred at the checkpoint. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the Mastung blast…. The Pakistani army has said that four soldiers were killed in a missile attack on a security post in Zhob. The Army Public Relations Office (ESPR) said in a statement that the attack took place on the evening of September 28. It has been claimed in the statement that the missile was sent by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants from Afghanistan, but that group and the Taliban government in Kabul have not yet said anything in response…. Recently, insecurity and activities of militants have increased in different parts of Balochistan and a number of security forces, government employees and civilians have been killed in attacks and clashes. On the 9th of September, six local football players were going from Dera Bugti to Sawai in a car to participate in the championship called “Al Pakistan Chief Minister Gold Cup” when armed men kidnapped them. Before this, a soldier was killed in two attacks on the traffic police and the Levies force in the afternoon of August 16…. On August 13, militants attacked the convoy of Chinese engineers in the port city of Gwadar, after which a clash with the security forces began….


Notes:

[i] Balochistan has been conquered and divided by multiple empires, gaining partial independence in the 18th century, and is now divided amongst three nations, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan—with other ethnic majorities. While not as commonly known as the Pashtun, Kurdish, or Punjabi people, the Baloch are ethnically, linguistically, and historically unique. Years of subjugation and marginalization – along with its remote and sparsely populated geographic location – have contributed to the fragile state of the region, allowing nationalist and radical Islamist groups to further destabilize the province through violence. For more information on the history of the Balochistan region, see: Mickey Kupecz. “Pakistan’s Baloch Insurgency: History, Conflict Drivers, and Regional Implications,” The International Affairs Review, 16 May 2012. https://www.iar-gwu.org/print-archive/8er0x982v5pj129srhre98ex6u8v8n

[ii] For more information on the Mawlid al-Nabi celebration, see: “Birthday of the Prophet: Mawlid al-Nabi,” The Pluralism Project – Harvard University, 2020. https://pluralism.org/birthday-of-the-prophet-mawlid-al-nabi

[iii] For additional background information on Tehrik-E Taliban Pakistan, see: “Tehrik-E Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” Office of the Director of National Intelligence. https://www.dni.gov/nctc/groups/ttp.html

 [iv] For additional information on the Balochistan Liberation Army, see: “Balochistan Liberation Army,” Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation, Updated 2019. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/balochistan-liberation-army


Image Information:

Image: Location of the Mastung district in Balochistan, Pakistan.
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Pakistan_-_Balochistan_-_Mastung.svg/1172px-Pakistan_-_Balochistan_-_Mastung.svg.png?20211017045741
Attribution: CC-BY-SA-4.0


Azerbaijan Protests India’s Delivery of Weapons to Armenia

Hikmat Hajiyev has been the Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan since 2018.


“But the fact remains that today Armenia, even if it wants to, will not be able to transfer these weapons to the remnants of the so-called regime in Karabakh.”


For years, Armenia has watched its adversary, Azerbaijan, receive weapons from Turkey, Russia, and Israel. Armenia has a smaller defense budget than Azerbaijan’s, and thus, has not been able to match the same level of acquisitions, notably, contracting for an export version of Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile system in 2016.[i]

However, despite these challenges, according to the first excerpted article from the Azerbaijani news agency Trend, Armenia received an unnamed weapon system from India in late July 2023. The article also mentions a $400 million contract between India and Armenia signed this past year providing Armenia with the Pinaka multiple rocket launcher, 155 mm artillery systems, anti-tank rockets, and unknown quantities of ammunition.[ii] The second excerpted article from the Azerbaijani news website Caliber reports that the Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan – Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmet Hajiyev, met with India’s ambassador to discuss his concerns about the increasing military cooperation between India and Armenia. Hajiyev noted that India’s cooperation with Armenia comes as Azerbaijan and Armenia are negotiating a peace agreement and that the delivery of new weapons aggravates the situation. The article notes that India’s ambassador would relay the message to Armenia, but that the meeting was unlikely to have a major impact. While Azerbaijan has fair relations with India, it has better relations with Pakistan, including an increasing level of security cooperation in recent years.[iii] Ultimately, the delivery of weapons to Armenia could lead Azerbaijan to deepen its relationship with Pakistan.


Sources:

Takhmaz Asadov, “Из Индии в Армению везут оружие – кто хочет накалить ситуацию в регионе? (Weapons are being delivered from India to Armenia – who wants to heat up the situation in the region?),” Trend (news agency in Azerbaijan), 26 July 2023. https://www.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3777500.html

The movement of a vehicle column from the border checkpoint Nurduz (Iran) to Armenia was recorded. According to the spread footage, it can be seen that the cargo being transported is covered with an awning so that the destination of the cargo remains unknown. However, it is clear that the cargo transported from Iran to Armenia is for military purposes and has already been delivered to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

As for the consignor of the cargo, this is India, with which Armenia has recently been rapidly increasing military-technical cooperation. It is known only from open sources in the media that a military contract worth more than 400 million US dollars has been signed between Armenia and India…


“Индия разжигает огонь на Южном Кавказе (India is stoking a fire in the South Caucasus),” Caliber (news website from Azerbaijan), 26 July 2023.https://caliber.az/en/post/180998/

On July 26, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan – Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev met with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to our country Sridharan Madhusudhanan.

At the meeting, Hikmet Hajiyev noted that the Azerbaijani side is concerned about the deepening of military cooperation between Armenia and India, in particular, the photos and videos circulated in the media in recent days about the transportation of Indian-made weapons systems through Iran to Armenia…

Hikmet Hajiyev stressed that the supply of weapons by India to Armenia, at a time when Azerbaijan is negotiating a peace agreement with this country, serves to militarize Armenia and aggravate the situation, hinder the establishment of lasting peace and security in the South Caucasus region…The Indian Ambassador assured that he would inform official Delhi about the issue raised by Azerbaijan, noted the importance of dialogue between the two countries to discuss issues of concern in bilateral relations…


Notes:

[i] The export version of Iskander missile system does not have as long of a range as the version Russia uses, but it has many of the same capabilities. For background on Armenia’s acquisition of it, see: Matthew Stein “Armenia’s Acquisition of the Iskander Ballistic Missile System,” OE Watch, November 2016. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/p/oe-watch-issues

[ii] For more information on Armenia’s acquisitions from India, see: Matthew Stein “Armenia Acquires Indian Multiple Rocket Launcher System Amid Delays in Russian Deliveries,” OE Watch, 11-2022. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2022/armenia-acquires-indian-multiple-rocket-launcher-system-amid-delays-in-russian-deliveries/

 [iii] Security cooperation between Azerbaijan and Pakistan has been increasing for the past several years, see: Matthew Stein “Pakistan Providing Border Security Assistance to Azerbaijan,” OE Watch, October 2021. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/p/oe-watch-issues


Image Information:

Image: Hikmat Hajiyev has been the Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan since 2018.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hikmat_Hajiyev_via_VOA_(cropped).png
Attribution: Public domain


Pakistan’s Defense Industry Publishes New Weapon Systems Roadmap

Official logo of GIDS


“GIDS’ future roadmap ranges from improved variants of existing, mainstay solutions – such as the Fatah-series of surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) and Burq-series air-to-ground missiles (AGM) – to newly revealed systems, like the “Group 5 UCAV” or “LOMADS” SAM system.”


Pakistan has cooperated with China on the development and production of several weapons systems for use in country’s armed forces, including the Al-Khalid [RG1] main battle tank and the JF-17 [RG2] multirole fighter.[i] Technology transfers of smaller defense items have also provided a boost to Pakistan’s defense industry. The accompanying excerpted article from Pakistan defense-focused Quwa.org reports on a recent announcement by Pakistan’s government-owned Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS) on a roadmap to produce new products for the country’s armed forces. While the roadmap did not include joint production of a new system with China, it still provides a look at production capabilities in Pakistan’s defense industry, which has made sales to other governments in recent years.

The GIDS roadmap includes improved variants of existing systems as well as new systems. GIDS “does not develop or manufacture any of the systems it is promoting and selling,” but rather it is the commercial component of other state-owned defense companies, according to the article. The roadmap includes two high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems currently in development, one of which can carry a payload of 450 kg, or roughly 1000 lbs.  These systems could be used in a reconnaissance role for Pakistan and could fulfill several requirements for other buyers. The roadmap also includes a new surface-to-air missile system and an upgraded variant of a multiple rocket-launch system that Pakistan currently uses. The roadmap is described as “relatively ambitious” and states that “it is unclear how far Pakistan has developed each of these systems.” While Pakistan’s defense industry has been technologically limited in certain capacities, the article acknowledges that the companies producing these systems are confident enough to reveal them to potential buyers in the roadmap.[ii] It is unknown when all of the systems in the roadmap will be available for potential sales, but Pakistan’s new systems could offer buyers cheap alternatives to systems already on the market. JF-17s have a lower cost than other multirole aircraft, for example.2  Pakistan sold JF-17s to Nigeria in 2020, marking a boost for the country’s defense industry.


Sources:

“Pakistan’s Defence Industry Lays Out Ambitious Future Roadmap,” Quwa.org (news website focusing on defense issues in Pakistan), 22 May 2023. https://quwa.org/2023/05/22/pakistans-defence-industry-lays-out-ambitious-future-roadmap-2/embed/#?secret=Rt0Vm2ACd8#?secret=M3LkjwsxlO

Global Industrial and Defence Solutions (GIDS), the commercial representative of multiple Pakistani state-owned defence suppliers, released its roadmap for future products… 

GIDS’ future roadmap ranges from improved variants of existing, mainstay solutions – such as the Fatah-series of surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) and Burq-series air-to-ground missiles (AGM) – to newly revealed systems, like the “Group 5 UCAV” or “LOMADS” SAM system. 

It should be noted that GIDS itself does not develop or manufacture any of the systems it is promoting and selling. Rather, GIDS serves as the commercial wing of a conglomerate of Pakistani state-owned enterprises that specialize in defence, such as NESCOM, for example. Basically, it is these state-owned enterprises that carry out the development and production work of GIDS’ products… 

According to GIDS, there are two HALE UCAVs are under development: the 3,000-kg “Group 5 UCAV” and the 1,650-kg Shahpar III (also designated as “Group 4”). 

The Group 5 UCAV seems to leverage twin turboprop or piston engines. The Group 5’s designers (possibly, if not likely, NESCOM) is aiming to achieve an endurance of over 35 hours and external payload in excess of 450 kg. Though it is called a UCAV, it seems that NESCOM is optimizing the Group 5 for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) role, especially imaging-related missions… 

GIDS also revealed multiple potential systems that may speak to the future of Pakistan’s ground-based air defence (GBAD) environment through new SAMs and radars. 

First, there is a ‘LOMADS’ SAM with a range of up to 100 km and maximum engagement altitude of 20 km. According to GIDS, each of these LOMADS units would comprise of a multi-function radar and six multi-cell launchers carrying four missiles each. GIDS did not reveal the guidance and seeker details of the SAM, but it likely leverages active radar homing (ARH) like the majority of its current-day contemporaries. 

GIDS also revealed an ‘E-SHORADS’ system, which it has also designated as the ‘FAAZ-SL’. The FAAZ-SL will offer a maximum range of 20-25 km and a maximum engagement altitude of 6-8 km. GIDS stated that the SAM will be truck-mounted (seemingly similar in design to the NASAMS)… 

Finally, GIDS has also shown that Pakistan is committed to continue developing upon the systems it already has, such as the Fatah, Azb, Burq, Zumr, and Ribat. 

The Fatah-II is an evolved variant of the Fatah-I, an indigenously developed multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). Whereas the Fatah-I has a range of 140 km, the Fatah-II will improve upon it with a range of equal or more than 250 km, while also continuing to leverage the same GNSS-aided INS guidance suite… 

Overall, GIDS has revealed a relatively ambitious product roadmap…It is unclear how far Pakistan has developed each of these systems. However, given that GIDS has revealed them to the public (and, potentially, to potential overseas buyers) could suggest that the institutes behind each of these are relatively confident about completing these projects…


Notes:

[i] For more information on the China’s efforts in the development of Pakistan’s defense industry, see: Matthew Stein “China Involved in Developing Pakistan’s Main Battle Tank,” OE Watch, August 2021. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/p/oe-watch-issues

[ii] For more on Pakistan’s sale of the JF-17s, see: Matthew Stein “Pakistan Moving into Sales of JF-17 Fighters,” OE Watch, May 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/p/oe-watch-issues


Image Information:

Image: Official logo of GIDS 
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Official_logo_of_GIDS.png   
Attribution: Public domain


Key Arab Countries Join Chinese-Led Regional Body as Dialogue Partners

Shanghai Cooperation Organization Secretariat (2022).

Shanghai Cooperation Organization Secretariat (2022).


“… The group’s expansion, however, should not be interpreted as meant to pose a challenge to the West, but rather as a means to provide an alternative…”


A growing number of Arab countries are joining the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as “dialogue partners.” The SCO was established in the early 2000s as a mechanism for deepening political, economic, and security cooperation between countries of Central and South Asia. It has eight member nations (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and over a dozen “observer” and “dialogue partner” nations, which may send delegates to SCO meetings and negotiate with the bloc on particular issues but do not have voting rights or official sway within the organization.

In the past year, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have all been officially granted “dialogue partner” status, with Bahrain expected to follow suit. With this, roughly two-thirds of countries in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility have joined the SCO in some capacity.[i] While these developments bear watching, SCO partnership is—at least for now—not necessarily at odds with existing security commitments and arrangements.[ii] Instead, engagement with the SCO is seen as part of a strategic diversification approach being pursued by Arab countries in response to emerging multipolarity. Arabic-language media largely sees these moves through an economic lens and as part of what the first accompanying excerpt, published in the Qatari-aligned daily al-Araby al-Jadeed, considers China’s “efforts to consolidate a new multipolar world economic order.” Arab countries’ interest in the SCO, however, should not be dismissed as a purely economic phenomenon bereft of potential strategic implications. According to a former Egyptian diplomat cited in the second accompanying article, published last September in the prominent Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, Russia will seek to use the SCO “as an additional point in its confrontations with the West.” Russian attempts to use the SCO for strategic leverage against NATO would likely cause friction within the organization, clashing not only with China’s more regional and economic focus but also with the strategic interests of other SCO members. Nonetheless, growing Russo-Chinese geostrategic alignment may eventually enable the SCO’s orientation to gradually shift toward global geopolitics, particularly if its membership begins extending beyond Central and South Asia. Especially noteworthy in this regard is Iran’s interest in full SCO membership (it is currently an observer country). This interest, combined with the recent China-mediated Saudi-Iranian détente, makes the SCO a potential venue through which Iran may seek to compete with the United States. Last April, Iran was for the first time invited to participate in the SCO defense ministers’ meeting in New Delhi. As reported in the third accompanying excerpt, from the pro-Iranian Lebanese media outlet al-Mayadeen, Iran’s Defense Minister called for the establishing of a “Shanghai Maritime Security Belt” and more broadly using the SCO to promote a “balance of power.” Iranian ambitions notwithstanding, the SCO remains an “alternative” rather than a “challenge” to the West, as articulated by an Indian journalist cited in the fourth accompanying excerpt, from the Saudi English-language daily Arab News. Still, in a competitive world, today’s alternatives may become tomorrow’s challenges. Present Arab involvement in the SCO remains limited and largely economic in nature, but the potential for this involvement to morph in a way that that erodes U.S.-Arab security partnerships, while not imminent, is worthy of consideration.


Sources:

“منظمة شنغهاي.. ترسيخ الصين لاقتصاد التعددية القطبية يتمدّد عربياً

(Shanghai Organization.. China’s consolidation of the multipolar economy is expanding in the Arab world),” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 16 April 2023. https://tinyurl.com/muamystt

China is seeking to attract a larger number of economically active countries to membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as part of its efforts to consolidate a new multipolar world economic order.

“ماذا يعني انضمام 5 دول عربية إلى منظمة «شنغهاي»؟

(What does the accession of 5 Arab countries to the ‘Shanghai Organization’ mean?).” al-Sharq al-Awsat (influential Saudi daily), 17 September 2022. https://tinyurl.com/bdf9f2v8


Ambassador Raouf Saad, the former Egyptian assistant foreign minister and former Egyptian ambassador to Moscow, acknowledged that Russia will work to exploit the matter as an additional point in its confrontations with the West. However, he stressed the constants of Egyptian foreign policy, which refuses to “enter into alliances directed at the expense of its interests.”

“وزير الدفاع الإيراني: يجب تفعيل حزام الأمن البحري لمنظمة “شنغهاي

(Iranian Defense Minister: The ‘Shanghai Organization’ maritime security belt must be activated,)” al-Mayadeen (pro-Iran Lebanese media outlet), 29 April 2023. https://tinyurl.com/35dfp45z

Today, Saturday, the Iranian Minister of Defense, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, proposed adopting the “Shanghai Maritime Security Belt” mechanism with the aim of maintaining the security of communication lines and collectively guaranteeing global trade with the participation of the armed forces of member states…

During his remarks at the meeting of defense ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states in New Delhi, India, Ashtiani said that the achievements of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization “should promote global multilateralism and balance of power.”

“Middle Eastern participation grows in China-led security bloc as new countries join,” Arab News (English-language Saudi daily), 5 May 2023. https://www.arabnews.com/node/2298341/world
“It is a question of moving the weight or the center of gravity from the Western world — the US and EU combined — to the Eastern world, the place where the population of the world actually now exists overwhelmingly, the place where the fastest-growing economies are also present,” Suhashini Haidar, diplomatic editor at the English-language daily the Hindu, told Arab News. The group’s expansion, however, should not be interpreted as meant to pose a challenge to the West, but rather as a means to provide an alternative, she said.


Notes:

[i] Of the 21 countries in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility, only eight (Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Yemen) do not have any status in the SCO. However, Iraq, Israel, and Syria have all applied for dialogue partner status, while Turkmenistan has attended SCO summits as a guest attendee. That leaves Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, and Yemen as the only countries with no relationship to the SCO.

[ii] SCO partnership alone means little in terms of defense commitments: Turkey, a NATO member, is an SCO dialogue partner.  Full membership in the SCO should also not be equated to membership in a defense alliance, such as NATO, given that both India and Pakistan are full members. Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have an adversarial relationship with one another, are both dialogue partners.


Image Information:

Image: Shanghai Cooperation Organization Secretariat (2022).
Source: N509FZ, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shanghai_Cooperation_Organization_Secretariat_%2820220909162501%29.jpg
Attribution: CC 4.0

Iran Considers Rapprochement With Pakistan

 Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, 20 September 2022.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, 20 September 2022.


“He expressed hope that Islamic countries will…form a united and coherent front.”


While certain pillars of Iranian foreign policy, such as rejection of Israel’s right to exist and opposition to the United States remain immutable, over the past two decades, Iran has undertaken diplomatic rapprochement on several fronts. Relations between Iran and Russia, for example, are at their closest in 50 years.[i] The March 2023 announcement that Iran and Saudi Arabia would resume diplomatic ties breaks down an important barrier between Iran and the Arab world. As the accompanying article from the Iranian Fars News Agency relays, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s call for greater strategic cooperation between Iran and Pakistan reflects Iran’s continued efforts for rapprochement with traditional rivals.

Raisi’s outreach to Pakistan comes on the heels of exacerbated tensions between Iran and Pakistan over Afghanistan: Iran backed many Shiite Hazara groups and western Afghanistan’s ethnic Persians, while Pakistan supported Sunni and Pashtun warlords culminating in its embrace of the Taliban. In the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, however, Iran sought a new approach. It cooperated with Pakistan to operate border markets on both sides of the Iran-Afghanistan and Iran-Pakistan frontiers. Iran also decided to engage the Taliban diplomatically rather than stonewall them or fight them by proxy.[ii]

Iran’s effort to build better relations with Pakistan also takes place amidst rumors of U.S. efforts to broker a rapprochement between Israel and Pakistan. The Iranian government would look at any such development as a security threat, much as it considers Azerbaijan’s ties with Israel a threat to its security. Any Iran-Pakistan rapprochement would also directly augment China’s position. Pakistan’s indebtedness to China as a result of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has increased Beijing’s influence in Islamabad. China’s efforts to broker Iran-Saudi rapprochement demonstrate Tehran’s growing openness to China as well. While Raisi might pitch animosity toward Israel as the basis for growing ties, a position that would have populist appeal among Pakistanis, commonalities regarding China may be as important.


Source:

“Raisi dar Goftegu ba Nakohost Vazir-e Pakistan: Keshavarha-ye Islami ba Tashkil Junbeh-e Vahid Mana’ Tadavem Aghdamat-e Dadamenshaneh Siyonistha Shavand  (Raisi, in a Conversation with the Prime Minister of Pakistan: Islamic Countries Should Form a United Front to Prevent the Continuation of the Abusive Actions of the Zionists),” Fars News Agency (news agency closely affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), 13 April 2023. https://www.farsnews.ir/news/14020124000742

In a telephone call with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Ayatollah Sayyid Ibrahim Raisi expressed deep concern over recent developments in Palestine. He condemned the Zionist regime’s crimes, especially the indignity that the Al-Aqsa Mosque suffered, and expressed hope that Islamic countries will prevent the continuation of the Zionists’ brutal actions by forming a united and coherent front.

Later in the telephone conversation, the president pointed to the longstanding and friendly relations between the two countries, and expressed hope that these relations, especially in the field of economic and energy, will expand even further. He said that the policy of strengthening relations with neighbors and developing relations with Islamic countries is one of the priorities of the 13th [Raisi] government….… Shehbaz Sharif also emphasized his country’s interest in strengthening Tehran-Islamabad relations, pointing to Iran’s privileged position in the region and the importance of expanding Islamabad’s relations with Tehran. He stressed his government’s readiness not only to review economic cooperation projects, but also Pakistan’s willingness to implement them.


Notes:

[i] Michael Rubin, “Iran-Russia Relations” OE Watch, July 2016. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/195435

[ii] Michael Rubin, “An Afghan Perspective: New Phase in Afghanistan-Iran Relations” OE Watch, July 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/340009 and Michael Rubin, “Iran Talking to the Taliban,” OE Watch, June 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/336632


Image Information:

Image: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, 20 September 2022.
Source: https://media.farsnews.ir/Uploaded/Files/Images/1401/06/29/14010629000909_Test_PhotoN.jpg
Attribution: Fars News Agency

China Advancing Cooperation With Pakistan’s Navy in the Indian Ocean

“To counter India, it is important for Pakistan to improve its navy by acquiring advanced equipment from Beijing and enhancing its capabilities through these drills…”


The accompanying three excerpted articles highlight different perceptions of the growing China-Pakistan strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean.  In July, China and Pakistan held their second “Sea Guardians” joint naval exercise off the coast of Shanghai.  The exercise was meant in part to test Pakistan’s new Type 054A/P warship—the country’s most advanced Chinese-built frigate.  The Pakistani navy commissioned its first Type 054A/P, the PNS Tughril, in January and the second one, PNS Taimur, in June.  Pakistan has a contract to receive two more at an unspecified date.  According to popular Indian daily The Hindu, the “Sea Guardians” exercises are paving the way for closer security cooperation between China and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean.  Chinese and Pakistani experts point out the need to safeguard strategic sea lanes used to transport energy and goods.  They also comment on Pakistan’s need “to ensure seaward defense, maintain peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.”  The Hong Kong-based semi-independent South China Morning Post attributes China’s growing role in the Indian Ocean to growing U.S.-India joint maritime security cooperation.  China’s goal is to “counter U.S. efforts to advance its Indo-Pacific strategy, which emphasizes India’s continued rise and leadership in the region.”  Meanwhile, Paris-based, online media source Naval News sees the buildup of Pakistan’s naval capability more generally as an effort to counter India.  According to the article, the Pakistani navy is in the process of renewing its fleet.  In addition to the four Chinese frigates, they will be commissioning new corvettes from Turkey and a multi-purpose offshore patrol vessel from the Netherlands.  Pakistan is also modernizing its submarine fleet.  In 2016, Pakistan entered a $5 billion deal with China to acquire eight Chinese Yuan-class Type 041 diesel submarines by 2028.  According to the article, the goal is “to shift the force balance with its archrival India.”


Source:

Ananth Krishnan, “China, Pakistan Begin War Games Off Shanghai,” The Hindu (Indian daily newspaper), 10 July 2022. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-pakistan-begin-war-games-off-shanghai/article65624154.ece

China and Pakistan on Sunday began four-day naval exercises off the coast of Shanghai, involving Pakistan’s most advanced China-built frigate and paving the way for closer security cooperation between the two countries in the Indian Ocean.

Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert, told the paper the two countries “need to jointly demonstrate their capabilities in safeguarding strategic sea lanes that transport energy and goods.”

The first Type 054A, Tughril, was commissioned last year.  Pakistan’s envoy to China Moil Ul Haque then told Chinese media that the commissioning of the frigate “in the context of the overall security paradigm of the region” would “strengthen Pakistan Navy’s capabilities to respond to maritime challenges to ensure seaward defence, maintain peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.”

Source: Amber Wang, “China and Pakistan Launch Naval Drills Aimed at Countering US Indo-Pacific Strategy,” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong based semi-independent English language daily), 11 July 2022. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3184897/china-and-pakistan-launch-naval-drills-aimed-countering-us-indo

This is the second time China and Pakistan have held a “Sea Guardians” joint maritime exercise. The first was held in January 2020 in the northern Arabian Sea.

Lin Minwang, a professor of South Asian studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the exercise would help China to expand its engagement in the Indian Ocean and counter US efforts to advance its Indo-Pacific strategy, which emphasizes India’s “continued rise” and leadership in the region.

“The strengthening of maritime security between India and the United States has led to China’s greater engagement in the Indian Ocean.”

The Indian Ocean is a vital trading hub, and 80 per cent of China’s oil imports come through the Malacca Strait, the ocean’s busiest “choke point”.

To counter India, it is important for Pakistan to improve its navy by acquiring advanced equipment from Beijing and enhancing its capabilities through these drills, according to Lin.

Source: Tayfun Ozberk,“Pakistan Navy Commissions 2nd Type 054 A/P Frigate ‘PNS Taimur,’” Naval News (Paris based naval focused news outlet), 24 June 2022. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/06/pakistan-navy-commissions-2nd-type-054-a-p-frigate-pns-taimur/

The Pakistan Navy is currently undertaking an important renewal of its fleet, with the procurement of several modern platforms: In addition to these frigates from China, Pakistan will also commission new corvettes from Turkey and OPV from the Netherlands.  It is also modernizing its submarine force.  In 2016, Pakistan agreed to pay China $5 billion for the acquisition of eight Chinese Yuan-class type-041 diesel submarines by 2028 in order to shift the force balance with its archrival India.

Service Rifles and Fighter Jets: Pakistan’s Defense Acquisition Priorities

A J-10B carrying PL-10 and PL-12 air-to-air missiles landing at Zhuhai Jinwan airport ahead of Airshow China 2018.

A J-10B carrying PL-10 and PL-12 air-to-air missiles landing at Zhuhai Jinwan airport ahead of Airshow China 2018.


For the first time, Pakistan Air Force will introduce J10 C fighter jets during the fly past in collaboration with China and these fighter airplanes are an answer to Rafale jets…”


In late 2015 Pakistan announced it would conduct trials to find a new infantry rifle as the country’s army sought to phase out the Heckler & Koch G3.  After a few years of testing, the government did not select a rifle from bids of several well-known companies and instead looked to the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) for a potential replacement (See: “A New Domestically Produced Service Rifle in Pakistan?” OE Watch, December 2019).  While Pakistan’s Army has yet to acquire a new service rifle, the accompanying excerpted articles report on a possible replacement for the G3 and other defense acquisition priorities.

The article from Pakistani defense focused news website Quwa.org reports on the POF’s introduction of the BW20 and BW21.  The article notes that the POF is “pitching the BW20” as the next-generation rifle and that the cost of it could be lower due to “existing production infrastructure” for the G3.  It also notes that BW20 “has some commonality with the G3,” though it is considered a new rifle and not an upgrade.  The article also mentions that Pakistan’s Army “did not select any of the 7.62×51 mm designs for local adoption” and that one reason for not selecting a new rifle was that “the added improvement they offered may not have justified the total cost of adopting and locally manufacturing a foreign design.”  While the cost of the BW20 and BW21 might be lower than purchasing a foreign rifle, it could still be some time until it is in a position to become the standard service rifle in Pakistan’s Army.

The article from independent Pakistani English-language newspaper Dawn reports on the country’s recent acquisition of J-10 multirole fighters from China.  The article mentions the new fighters, but only in reference to them appearing as part of a fly over during Pakistan Day ceremonies on 23 March 2021.  Pakistan did not make a widely publicized announcement of the acquisition of a reported two dozen J-10s, which are estimated to cost $28 million each.  Dawn quoted the country’s Interior Minister as saying that the J-10s are an answer to India’s 2021 purchase of Rafale jets from France.


Source:

“Pakistan Reveals New Rifles – POF BW20 and POF BW21,” Quwa.org (news website focusing on defense issues in Pakistan), 19 December 2021. https://quwa.org/2021/12/19/pakistan-reveals-new-rifles-pof-bw20-and-pof-bw21-2/

Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) took the shrouds off its new in-house, original rifle projects – the BW20 and BW21. The POF BW20 and BW21 are chambered for 7.62×51 mm rounds.

…It seems that POF is pitching the BW20 for the PA’s next-generation rifle requirements…the BW20 is a new rifle design that delivers cost savings by re-leveraging POF’s existing production infrastructure, which is geared for the HK G3.

Though the BW20 has some commonality with the G3 (around 30%), the BW20 is not an upgrade of the HK G3. It is a new rifle…

In 2015, the Pakistan Army issued a tender for a new-generation assault rifle. It had tested many designs from all over the world, including the FN SCAR, Beretta ARX-200, CZ BREN, AK-103 and others. In the end, however, the Army did not select any of the 7.62×51 mm designs for local adoption…

Ultimately, it seems that POF was given the greenlight to design an original rifle. Part of the reason seems to stem from a sense that none of the foreign designs substantially improved upon the G3 in terms of its accuracy and durability. This is not to say the other rifles were not good, but the added improvement they offered may not have justified the total cost of adopting and locally manufacturing a foreign design…

Source: Aamir Yasin, “Every party seeks patronage of establishment, says minister,” Dawn (independent English-language newspaper from Pakistan), 30 December 2021.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1666604

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday said every party and politician wanted to be patronised by the establishment, terming the debate on the return of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif useless…

“It does not matter whether he comes or not; it will not make any difference to the government,” he said, adding it was strange that people who spent most of their lives in this country eventually left it instead of loving it…The minister reiterated his offer of a one-way ticket to Pakistan for Nawaz Sharif.

Talking about the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of opposition parties, the minister said he wanted the alliance to move the date of its protest from March 23 to the 30th as it coincided with Pakistan Day celebrations.

“For the first time, Pakistan Air Force will introduce J10 C fighter jets during the fly past in collaboration with China and these fighter airplanes are an answer to Rafale jets,” Mr Ahmed said…


Image Information:

Image: A J-10B carrying PL-10 and PL-12 air-to-air missiles landing at Zhuhai Jinwan airport ahead of Airshow China 2018.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chengdu_J-10#/media/File:J-10B_with_PL-10_and_PL-12.jpg
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0