America’s intelligence chief on Wednesday warned that Pakistan-supported terrorist groups would continue to carry out attacks inside India, thus risking escalation of tension between the two neighbours.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ remarks came days after a group of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists struck the Sunjuwan Military Camp in Jammu on Saturday, killing seven people including six soldiers.
Pakistan, in fact, will continue to threaten US interests by deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counter- terrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China, Coats said in his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“Militant groups supported by Islamabad will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests,” Coats said during the hearing on ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ of the US intelligence community.
He said Pakistan’s perception of its eroding position relative to India, reinforced by endemic economic weakness and domestic security issues, almost certainly will exacerbate long-held fears of isolation and drive Islamabad’s pursuit of actions that run counter to US goals for the region.
Without specifically referring to any terrorist incident by Pakistan-based groups, Coats told the lawmakers that he expects tension between the two Asian neighbours.
“Relations between India and Pakistan are likely to remain tense, with continued violence on the Line of Control and the risk of escalation if there is another high-profile terrorist attack in India or an uptick in violence on the Line of Control,” Coats said.
He said Pakistan’s support to terrorist groups have complicated the situation in Afghanistan.
“Complicating the Afghanistan situation is our assessment that Pakistan-based militant groups continue to take advantage of their safe haven to conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including US interests therein,” Coats said.
Pakistani military leaders “continue to walk a delicate line,” he said.
“Ongoing Pakistani military operations against the Taliban and associated groups probably reflect the desire to appear more proactive and responsive to our request for more actions against these groups. However, the actions taken thus far do not reflect a significant escalation of pressure against these groups and are unlikely to have a lasting effect,” Coats said.
In the last month, the administration has designated eight militants affiliated with the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other Pakistani terrorist groups.
“And we assess that Pakistan will maintain ties to these militants while restricting counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States,” Coats added.
Photograph: PTI Photo