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SOURCE: NEW DELHI TIMES

On January 29, in a public testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats presented a threat assessment report outlining significant global security threats facing the US.

Coats listed 2019 elections in Afghanistan and India, large-scale Taliban attacks and “Pakistan’s recalcitrance in dealing with militant groups” to enhance the challenges facing the South Asian region. He predicted that in the coming year “militant groups in Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe haven there to plan and conduct attacks in neighbouring countries and possibly beyond.”

Coats’ report holds Pakistan responsible for supporting and providing terrorists’ safe haven “to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.

The report also accused Islamabad of “using some groups as policy tools and confronting only the militant groups that directly threaten Pakistan”. Pakistan’s “narrow approach to counter-terrorism cooperation almost certainly will frustrate US counter-terrorism efforts against the Taliban” in coming year, the report claims.

Coats expressed concern over Pakistan’s continued development and control of nuclear weapons. Coats in his remarks before the Senate committee had said: “We remain concerned about Pakistan’s continued development control of nuclear weapons, “Pakistan continues to develop new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer range ballistic missiles”, the 2019 report states.

A 2016 Harvard Kennedy report on prevention of nuclear terrorism had put the risk of nuclear theft across the Pakistan border as “high”. New types of nuclear weapons “will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region”. The overall threat from weapons of mass destruction will grow in 2019.

Washington is currently urging Pakistan to play a pivotal role in facilitating the US-Taliban talks to further the Afghan peace process and end the 17-year-long war. Despite proofs to the contrary Islamabad consistently denies proofs of providing safe haven to terrorists or engaging in cross-border terrorism.

The report rules out strategic military advantage either for Taliban or Kabul in 2019 “if coalition support remains at current levels”. Afghan security forces are mostly tied down in defensive missions, mobility shortfalls, and lack reliable number of forces to hold recaptured territory.

The report speculated further that strained relations between Pakistan and India will persist at through May 2019 and probably beyond due to national election in India, cross-border terrorism, firing across the Line of Control, and Islamabad’s perception of its position with the US relative to India.

“Continued terrorist attacks and cross-border firing in Kashmir have hardened each country’s position and reduced their political will to seek rapprochement.” “Political manoeuvring resulting from the Indian national elections probably will further constrain near-term opportunities for improving ties.”

India-China relations will remain tense “despite efforts on both sides to manage tensions since the border standoff in 2017, elevating the risk of unintentional escalation”.

Although Indian and Chinese leadership held an informal summit in April 2018 to defuse tensions and normalise relations, border issues were left unaddressed. “Misperceptions of military movements or construction might result in tensions escalating into armed conflict,” the report noted.

America creates assumptions, then vigorously follows to prove those assumptions which mostly proves flawed. Critics blame America for being the scriptwriters while Asians are just the foolish puppets in their hands.

It is a straightforward, accurate and precise report on Pakistan and Afghanistan that offers honest assessment of the situation in the region denoting further drift if the extremists gain upper hand. The US needs to align its and Afghanistan interests with India and Pakistan.