In a big snub to the Pakistan’s civilian and military establushment, who have been in an overdrive to woo the Trump administration, Washington has publicly issued a severe indictment of Islamabad, and held its responsible for deteriorating ties with delhi. It also warned that Pakistan’s “pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons potentially lowers the threshold for their use.”
This indictment was issued by Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence. He told the Senate Committee on Intelligence that Islamabad’s continued support to militants, and New Delhi’s growing intolerance of this policy,set the stage for deterioration of bilateral relations in 2016. He remarked that things could go downhill further in 2017 all because of Pakistan.
“They (India -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 warned.
He added that easing of heightened Indo-Pakistani tension, including negotiations to renew official dialogue, will probably hinge “on a sharp and sustained reduction of cross-border attacks by terrorist groups based in Pakistan and progress in the Pathankot investigation,” which Pakistan has been stalling.
Excerpts from Coat’s written statement:
The overall situation in Afghanistan will very likely continue to deteriorate, even if international support is sustained. Endemic state weaknesses, the government’s political fragility, deficiencies of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Taliban persistence, and regional interference will remain key impediments to improvement. Kabul’s political dysfunction and ineffectiveness will almost certainly be the greatest vulnerability to stability in 2017. ANSF performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, ANSF combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support, and weak leadership.
The ANSF will almost certainly remain heavily dependent on foreign military and financial support to sustain themselves and preclude their collapse. Although the Taliban was unsuccessful in seizing a provincial capital in 2016, it effectively navigated its second leadership transition in two years following the death of its former chief, Mansur, and is likely to make gains in 2017. The fighting will also continue to threaten US personnel, allies, and partners, particularly in Kabul and urban population centers. ISiS’s Khorasan branch (ISIS-K)—^which constitutes ISIS’s most significant presence in South Asia—will probably remain a low-level developing threat to Afghan stability as well as to US and Western interests in the region in 2017.
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. Plotting against the US homeland will be conducted on a more opportunistic basis or driven by individual members within these groups.
Pakistan will probably be able to manage its internal security. Anti-Pakistan groups will probably focus more on soft targets. The groups we judge will pose the greatest threat to Pakistan’s internal security include Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat ui-Ahrar, ai-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent, iSIS-K, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, and Lashkar-e Jhangvi ai-Aiami.
The emerging China Pakistan Economic Corridor will probably offer militants and terrorists additional targets. Pakistan’s pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons potentially lowers the threshold for their use. 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.
Relations between India and Pakistan remain tense following two major terrorist attacks in 2016 by militants crossing into India from Pakistan. They 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. 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. 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.
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.
– Poreg team