India-Pakistan may stumble into another war, warns US intel report

Neighbours India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, may again stumble into a large-scale war neither side wants, according to a report in Dawn quoting  a US intelligence document

Apr 10, 2021
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Neighbours India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, may again stumble into a large-scale war neither side wants, according to a report in Dawn quoting  a US intelligence document.

The document explores the possibilities of miscalculations leading to a war in South Asia and strives to help policymakers anticipate the forces likely to shape the world in the next five to 20 years.
The assessment is included in a Global Trends report released in Washington on Wednesday by the US government's National Intelligence Council.

The report is produced every four years.

“India and Pakistan may stumble into a large-scale war neither side wants, especially following a terrorist attack that the Indian government judges to be significant,” the report warns.

The ability of some militant outfits to conduct attacks, New Delhi’s resolve to retaliate against Islamabad after such an attack, and Islamabad’s determination to defend itself “are likely to persist and may increase” in the next five years, the report says.

“Miscalculation by both governments could prompt a breakdown in the deterrence that has restricted conflict to levels each side judges it can manage.”

The report warns policymakers in Washington that “a full-scale war could inflict damage that would have economic and political consequences for years.”

The US policy in Afghanistan and its impact on the neighbouring countries is top on a list of key uncertainties in South Asia that are underlined in the report.

“US actions in Afghanistan during the next year will have significant consequences across the region, particularly in Pakistan and India,” the report states.

This would be “especially true” if a security vacuum emerges in Afghanistan that results in a civil war between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents, expanded freedom of manoeuvre for regional terrorist networks, or criminals and refugees flowing out of the country, it adds.

The report predicts that such an outcome would exacerbate political tensions and conflict in western Pakistan and sharpen the India-Pakistan rivalry by strengthening longstanding judgments about covert warfare in Islamabad and New Delhi.

“An abrupt US exit probably would also amplify concerns that the United States will lose interest in South Asia generally,” the document says.

Since independence, India and Pakistan have fought three wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971 and an undeclared war in 1991 in Kargil, besides engaging in a number of border skirmishes and militant stand-offs.

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