May 2017 News

US Says Pakistan's 'support For Anti-India Militants' To Blame For Deteriorating New Delhi-Islamabad Ties

11 May 2017
India Today

Srinagar: The Donald Trump government in the United States on Thursday blamed Pakistan for the 'deterioration of bilateral relations' between New Delhi and Islamabad. The Trump administration has further warned that Indo-Pak relations 'might worsen further if another 'high- profile' terrorist attack emanates from across the border this year.' The remarks on India-Pakistan relations are part of the 'Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community'. The assessment was presented before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in US Congress by Daniel Coats, Trump's Director of National Intelligence, and other top intelligence officials. Coats began the portion on India-Pakistan relations by saying, 'Relations between India and Pakistan remain tense following two major terrorist attacks in 2016 by militants crossing into India from Pakistan.' 'They (Indo-Pak ties) might deteriorate further in 2017, especially in the event of another high-profile terrorist attack in India that New Delhi attributes to originating in or receiving assistance from Pakistan,' Coats added. The assessment went on to indicate that militant groups operating from Pakistani soil were likely to continue targeting India. 'Pakistani-based terrorist groups will present a sustained threat to US interests in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan,' Coats said, adding that a revival of Indo-Pak relations would require a sharp, continuing drop in cross-border attacks. The assessment comes days after India accused a Pakistani Border Action Team of killing and mutilating two Indian jawans. Coats's remarks also come as New Delhi drags Islamabad to the International Court of Justice over the death sentence handed down to Kulbhushan Jadhav. The US intelligence assessment made no mention of the former Indian Navy officer's death sentence, which was recently stayed by the ICJ. 'INDIA's GROWING INTOLERANCE OF PAK-SPONSORED TERROR': Delivering the assessment in US Congress, Coats suggested that the bedrock of deteriorating Indo-Pak ties lies in Islamabad's 'failure to curb support to anti-India militants and New Delhi's growing intolerance of this policy...' The factor that played a role was 'a perceived lack of progress in Pakistan's investigations into the January 2016 Pathankot cross-border attack...' Coats said, referring to the January 2016 terror attack on the Pathankot air base that killed seven security personnel. The US Intelligence community's analysis also mention the repeated ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu Kashmir, saying, 'Increasing numbers of firefights along the Line of Control, including the use of artillery and mortars, might exacerbate the risk of unintended escalation between these nuclear-armed neighbours.' Echoing New Delhi's stated position, Coast in his testimony said that the easing of tensions between India and Pakistan hinges on a reduction in cross-border attacks. 'Easing of heightened Indo-Pakistani tension, including negotiations to renew official dialogue, will probably hinge in 2017 on a sharp and sustained reduction of cross-border attacks by terrorist groups based in Pakistan and progress in the Pathankot investigation', Coats said. QUESTIONS OVER SECURITY OF PAK NUKES: In its assessment, the US intelligence community has indicated that Islamabad's pursuit of 'tactical nuclear weapons' (weapons that are smaller and more mobile than conventional nukes) not only 'lowers the threshold for their use' but also increases the risk of them falling into non-state actors. ' Early deployment during a crisis of smaller, more mobile nuclear weapons would increase the amount of time that systems would be outside the relative security of a storage site, increasing the risk that a coordinated attack by non-state actors might succeed in capturing a complete nuclear weapon', Coats said in his Senate testimony. The analysis added Pakistan will 'probably' be able to manage its internal security, but added that anti-Pakistan groups will likely focus on softer targets. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Ahrar, al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent, ISIS-K, Laskhare Jhangvi, and Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami were named as the groups that US intelligence believes pose the greatest threat to Pakistan's internal security. The upcoming China Pakistan Economic Corridor was identified by US intelligence as a possible target for militants and terrorists. Delivering the assessment Coats also said, 'The threat to the United States and the West from Pakistani-based terrorist groups will be persistent but diffuse. Plotting against the US homeland will be conducted on a more opportunistic basis or driven by individual members within these groups.' PAKISTAN's INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION: News agency PTI also reported Coats saying that Pakistan is worried about its international isolation due to its dwindling position against India's rising international status, expanded foreign outreach and deepening ties with the US. Pakistan will likely turn to China to offset its isolation, empowering a relationship that will help Beijing to project influence into the Indian Ocean, the top US intelligence official was quoted as saying by PTI in remarks missing from the declassified version of the assessment put up on the US government's website.