In a statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director National Intelligence, Daniel R Coats talked about the threats emanating from Pakistan to its neighbors and the United States.
“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. The threat to the United States and the West from Pakistani-based terrorist groups will be persistent but diffuse,” he said.
He delved about Indo-Pak ties in more detail in his statement. He predicted that tensions between the two countries will tread on a confrontationist course in 2017 and things may flare up if any terrorist attack takes up in India.” Islamabad’s failure to curb support to anti-India militants and New Delhi’s growing intolerance of this policy, coupled with a perceived lack of progress in Pakistan’s investigations into the January 2016 Pathankot cross-border attack, set the stage for a deterioration of bilateral relations in 2016,” he said.
Moreover, Coats feared that Islamabad’s pursuit of Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs) will lower the threshold of its use.
These apprehensions are long-held and oft-repeated by the United States .
The US National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt Gen McMaster during his visit to the region last month expressed the same concerns. In an interview to Tolo News he called upon Pakistan to pursue its interests diplomatically.
The Afghan President recently declined the invitation to visit Pakistan and demanded Pakistan to take actions against perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
“As all of us have hoped for many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence,” he stated
Such views resonate well with those enunciated by Kabul and Delhi.
The Afghan President recently declined the invitation to visit Pakistan and demanded Pakistan to take actions against perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. The statement was followed by the border skirmish in Chaman where 12 Pakistani citizens and some 50 Afghan army personnel were killed.
Earlier, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is also a member of the parliamentary standing committee on defense called for taking a harder posture by introducing a bill to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.
“It is important to understand that Pakistan and China are deliberately trying to move the focus away from their terror activities by creating an impression that there is violence in Kashmir,” he said.
Troubled Times Ahead?
New Delhi and Kabul are finding it tough to deal with the Kashmiri resistance and the Taliban, respectively. Both accuse Islamabad of bolstering these movements and the assessments given by the US intelligence community are in-line with the Indo-Afghan narrative.
The Kashmiri resistance is gaining strength by the day; civilian clashes with the Indian armed forces are normal. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have increased their territorial control with swiftness and a great deal of ease. They are now in direct control of over 40 percent of Afghanistan territory and another 20 percent indirectly. This increase in potency will affect the ability of India and Afghanistan to control insurgency against them. They, of course, will as usual pass the buck to Islamabad. Now with increasing US support and claims that Pakistan is a trouble-maker, Islamabad will find itself under more pressure.
In case of a likely escalation along the LoC and the International Border, the US is more likely to mediate on its own terms. Islamabad could be asked for some concessions which if anything will be a boon for New Delhi. This outcome is more likely because events in Afghanistan are hampering US war-efforts in the land-locked country; the US hence will forcefully make the “do-more” demand.