Deteriorated Situations


Maoists launched deadliest ambush in four years, deadly COVID-19 wave engulfed country, and govt and China held new round of talks on disputed border. In deadliest and most daring attack on security forces since 2017, hundreds of Maoist insurgents 3 April ambushed security patrol in Chhattisgarh state (centre), killing 22 security forces personnel and injuring over 30 others; attack prompted govt to step up counter-insurgency operations in region. Maoist violence also continued elsewhere, including in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand states. Notably, in Maharashtra state (west), Maoists 3 April killed local official in Gadchiroli district. In Chhattisgarh state, Maoists 16 April attacked road workers in Sukma district, killing employee. In Odisha state (east), security forces 23 April killed Maoist in Kalahandi district. In Jharkhand state (east), Maoists 23 April shot dead civilian in West Singhbhum district. Meanwhile, COVID-19 infections reached alarming proportions as health ministry 24 April reported over 345,000 cases in previous 24 hours, with total of at least 200,000 deaths so far. In many cities, including capital New Delhi, govt and private hospitals faced shortage of oxygen, and cremation grounds were extended to accommodate increase in deaths; Modi govt throughout month faced criticism for having allowed – despite COVID-19 concerns – recent political rallies and weeks-long Hindu festival Kumbh Mela which attracts millions of pilgrims from across country. China-India border talks stalled over sequencing of border troop withdrawal. Indian and Chinese military officials 9 April met in eastern Ladakh province for 11th round of talks on disengagement along Line of Actual Control (LAC), two months after 10th round; MFA previous day stated India “would like to see disengagement in the remaining areas”. Talks made no progress as Chinese side reportedly proposed to first “deescalate” troops, meaning to pull back troops who sit behind the front lines, while Indian side proposed to “disengage” front-line troops from additional areas from border. Referring to border crisis, Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri 15 April said it was “inadvisable” to “sweep this situation under the carpet and characterise it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective”.


Deadly unrest erupted after political-religious group launched nationwide protests against ruling party; militant attacks continued at high intensity. Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) govt faced its most serious security crisis during its two-and-a-half years in power amid violent protests throughout country. Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) chief Saad Hussain Rizvi 11 April announced countrywide protests planned for 20 April in protest at govt’s failure to abide by Nov 2020 agreement to deport French ambassador over cartoons deemed blasphemous; authorities next day arrested Rizvi in Lahore city. Arrest triggered violent protests, killing four police officers and injuring at least 100; TLP claimed three supporters killed. Govt 15 April banned TLP under anti-terrorismlaw. Protests ended after govt 20 April accepted most TLP demands, including discussing French ambassador’s expulsion in Parliament, and releasing detained leaders and activists. PTI parliamentarian 20 April introduced resolution in Parliament. Yet, opposition parties’ rejection of the proposal to form special parliamentary committee to discuss issue risks renewed TLP protests. Unity among Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), 11-party opposition alliance including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), further fragmented after five PDM parties 3 April opted to form separate opposition block in senate. PTI candidate 11 April lost by large margin to PML-N’s candidate for seat in Punjab’s Sialkot district. Militant attacks and security operations continued. Notably, Pakistani Taliban suicide car attack on hotel in Balochistan’s capital Quetta 21 April killed five and wounded scores; attack possibly targeted visiting Chinese ambassador staying in hotel. Bomb blast 28 April killed police officer in Balochistan’s Qilla Abdullah district; earlier, bomb blast at football tournament 13 April injured at least 14 civilians in Hub district. Security forces 3 and 4 April claimed to have killed two Pakistani Taliban militants in North Waziristan, and Pakistani Taliban militant 13 April in South Waziristan district. Police 11 April claimed killing previous night high-profile Pakistani Taliban militant in Rawalpindi city, Punjab province. Internationally, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 7-8 April met with PM Khan, Army Chief Javed Bajwa and FM Mahmood Qureshi; agreed on deepening defence and counter-terrorism cooperation.