Annual threat assessment of U.S. intelligence warns of ‘potential flashpoints’ in Kashmir unrest, militant attack in India
While acknowledging that a “general war” between Pakistan and India is unlikely, a U.S. intelligence report submitted to Congress this week has warned that there is greater risk of Delhi under Prime Minister Narendra Modi responding to any “perceived or real” provocation from Pakistan with military force.
The Annual Threat Assessment, compiled by the office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, examines the diverse array of threats the U.S. and its allies are likely to encounter in the coming year, including China and its “push for global power”; Russia, North Korea and Iran’s “provocative” actions; global terrorism, and points of conflict and instability. Noting that the assessment covers the “most pressing threats to U.S. national interests,” the report stresses that it is not an “exhaustive assessment of all global challenges and notably excludes assessments of U.S. adversaries’ vulnerabilities.”
On India and Pakistan, the report has noted that “crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle.” Warning of a greater threat of military force from India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it says that heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, “with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints.”
On Afghanistan, the report admits the prospects of a lasting peace deal will “remain low” in the next year. “The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support,” it warns—a day after this report was submitted to Congress, U.S. President Joe Biden announced an intent to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 to end “America’s longest war.”
Noting that the ongoing pandemic is expected to remain a threat to global populations until vaccines and other measures are widely distributed, it warns that the “economic and political implications of the pandemic will ripple through the world for years.” Warning that “some governments, such as China and Russia, are using offers of medical supplies and vaccines to try to boost their geopolitical standing,” the report notes that global populations, including Americans, “will remain vulnerable to new outbreaks of infectious diseases as risk factors persist, such as rapid and unplanned urbanization, protracted conflict and humanitarian crises, human incursions into previously unsettled land, expansion of international travel and trade, and public mistrust of government and healthcare workers.”
Similarly, the report has warned about the threats posed by climate change, emerging technologies, cyber-warfare, foreign illicit drugs and organized crime, and migration and displacement.