US intelligence’s latest edition of worldwide threat assessment report has warned of a spike in communal violence during the parliamentary polls in India if the BJP stresses “Hindu nationalist themes” and continued to complain of Pakistan’s “recalcitrance” on support for terrorists based on its soil.
“The challenges facing South Asian states will grow in 2019 because of Afghanistan’s presidential election in mid-July and the Taliban’s large-scale attacks, Pakistan’s recalcitrance in dealing with militant groups, and Indian elections that risk communal violence,” said the new report.
The report also said Iran is not undertaking any new activity to develop a nuclear weapon and North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear programme. And it contradicted President Donald Trump’s claim that the Islamic State is finished, saying it still “commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria”.
The report, an annual exercise, was tabled in US congress Tuesday by Director of US intelligence Daniel Coats, who also deposed before the senate intelligence committee, accompanied by heads of the CIA, the FBI and the NSA, Gina Haspel, Christopher Wray and Paul Nakasone respectively.
On India, the report warned of an increase in the possibility of communal violence if the BJP “stresses Hindu nationalist themes” and went on to say that the ruling party’s policies in the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi “have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, and Hindu nationalist state leaders might view a Hindu-nationalist campaign as a signal to incite low-level violence to animate their supporters”.
The report goes on to warn that an increase in communal clashes “could alienate Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence”.
India on its own had not figured much in the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US intelligence, but only for challenges emanating from tensions in ties with Pakistan and China.
On Pakistan, the report warned, in a para headlined “Pakistan’s recalcitrance”, that militant groups supported by Islamabad “will continue to take advantage of their safe haven” there to “plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.
And the report said, reprising a long-standing US complaint, that Islamabad’s “narrow approach to counter-terrorism cooperation” — of using some groups as policy too while going after those that directly threaten Pakistan — will “almost certainly will frustrate US counter-terrorism efforts against the Taliban.”
And on Afghanistan the US intelligence assessment is that neither the Government nor the Taliban “will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year if coalition support remains at current levels”.