India and Pakistan’s relations have been strained due to the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism from Pakistan
By: Kimberly Rodrigues
During a Congressional hearing in the US on Wednesday (08), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted its annual threat assessment report, stating that the American intelligence community anticipates heightened tensions and potential conflicts between India and Pakistan, as well as India and China.
The report highlights that under the leadership of Narendra Modi, India is more inclined to respond with military force to perceived or actual provocations from Pakistan, compared to the past.
According to the report, although India and China have engaged in talks and resolved some border points, their relationship will continue to be tense after the deadly clash in 2020, which was the worst in decades.
The report also warns that the increased military presence of both countries along the disputed border raises the risk of armed conflict between two nuclear powers, which could potentially involve direct threats to US interests and individuals, requiring US intervention.
Additionally, previous standoffs have shown that even minor disputes on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) could quickly escalate.
The military standoff in eastern Ladakh in May 2020 has resulted in a virtual freeze in the relationship between China and India. Moreover, India has stated that normal relations with China can only be restored if there is peace in the border regions.
The report also highlights that the crises between India and Pakistan pose a significant concern due to the potential for escalation between two nuclear-armed nations.
However, the report suggests that both New Delhi and Islamabad may be inclined to maintain the current calm in their relationship, as evidenced by the renewal of the ceasefire along the Line of Control in early 2021.
“However, Pakistan has a long history of supporting anti-India militant groups, and under the leadership of Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations.
Each side’s perception of heightened tensions raises the risk of conflict, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints,” the report stated.
India and Pakistan’s relations have been strained due to the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. India has insisted that terrorism and talks cannot coexist and has called for a favorable atmosphere from Islamabad to resume dialogue.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and the US conducted counterterrorism discussions covering various topics, including multilateral counterterrorism cooperation, cyber security, and countering violent extremism. Both sides shared experiences in countering terrorism financing and reaffirmed their commitment to combat the common threat of terrorism.
The State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, US-Pakistan counter-terrorism dialogue provides an “opportunity for the United States to convey our willingness to work with Pakistan” to address terrorist threats and counter violent extremism, the threats that are in the region, the threats that have the potential to transcend the region as well.
“We have a shared interest in combating threats to regional security,” Price said.
When asked whether the US would address the matter of the Pakistani army and ISI’s backing of terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, which operates in Kashmir, and Khalistani terrorist groups – he stated that US partnership with Pakistan is crucial for achieving a stable and secure South and Central Asia that is free from terrorism.
He also said, the dialogue exemplifies mutual dedication to a strong security relationship and provides an occasion for an open discussion on joint efforts to combat all terrorist groups that endanger regional and global stability.
With inputs from PTI