US has sent a strong message to Pakistan, saying easing of heightened tension between Indian and its neighbour will probably hinge in 2017 on a sharp and sustained reduction of cross-border terrorism and progress in the Pathankot investigation, according to Indian Express report. Trump administration also said that India is thinking punitive options against Pakistan over Islamabad’s alleged support to cross-border terrorism, two senior US administration officials said, as per Indian Express report.
Daniel R Coats, Director Of National Intelligence, told US Senate Committee on Armed Services “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.” Notably, Coats earlier had said that Pakistan-based terrorist groups are planning to attack both India and Afghanistan. He also claimed that Islamabad has failed to curb militants and terrorists in Pakistan.
According to IE report, Coats said that rising numbers of firefights along the Line of Control, including the use of artillery and mortars, might exacerbate the risk of unintended escalation between India and Pakistan. 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, he said.
Lieutenant General Vincent R Stewart, Director of Defense Intelligence Agency, told the same committee, “Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan worsened following several terrorist attacks in India. Continued threat of high level terror attacks in India, violence in Kashmir and bilateral diplomatic recriminations will further strain India-Pakistan ties in 2017.”
Commenting on surgical strike carried out by Indian Army following Uri attack, Stewart said that after a terrorist attack on an Army base in Indian Kashmir last September, New Delhi conducted a highly publicized operation against militants across the Line of Control.
It has been learned that President Donald Trump has proposed in his annual budget to the Congress to convert US’ grant to Pakistan for purchase of military hardware into a loan, the White House said, according to PTI report. Director of the Office of Management of Budget in the White House Mick Mulvaney had said, “we do maintain aid to Pakistan in the budget. I don’t believe it’s at the same levels as previous.”