U.S. Report Predicts ‘Escalatory Cycle’ in 2021 in India, Pakistan Tension. No ‘General War’.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely to respond with military force against Pakistan, warns a US intelligence report sent to Congress on Tuesday.

The report says heightened tensions in the region raise the risk of conflict but rules out full-scale war between the two South Asian neighbors.

The annual threat assessment report – 2021 prepared by the office of the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and sent to Congress on Tuesday stated that India could respond to “perceived or real” provocations from Pakistan.

While assessing possible threats from South Asia, the report warned that “under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations.”

The report noted that “heightened tensions” in the region “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.”

But the report also said that “a general war” between India and Pakistan during 2021 was unlikely, but “crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle.”

Multiple reasons mar bilateral relations and can cause flare up from time to time,” a senior Pakistani defense official says.

“In the 20th century the reasons of instability were different, they ranged from sense of grievance on part of Pakistan for being wronged during partition, to Indian desire to establish itself as a dominant power in subcontinent. The 21st century is a different ball game. Today India feels that it has developed sufficiently to coerce Pakistan into accepting solutions to bilateral disputes on Indian terms. India’s rise as mid-size economy, coupled with rise in Hindi fundamentalism and West’s willingness to look the other way for want of Indian market and support for hedge against China, makes the combination dangerous”.

In his view, “the danger is not that India can impose a war on Pakistan and can win but the danger is that under western tacit approval, any Indian misadventure can spiral out of hand and breach the nuclear threshold.”

India is trying a Israeli style punitive deterrence regime under western approval ( Balakot adventure) has laid the region open to Indian military adventurism. On this count, India is less to be blamed and West carry bigger responsibility. Yes, chances of military standoff is real. Yes, Pakistan is capable of responding in kind, and no one can predict the escalation in such a standoff; this is the real danger”.

Another US intelligence report to Congress, released last week, warned that India and Pakistan could go to a war in the next five years over real and perceived provocations.

The report pointed out that some regional conflicts – such as the fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – had “direct implications for US security,” while “tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan remain a concern for the world.”

According to the Director DNI Avril Haines, the report provides a “nuanced, independent, and unvarnished intelligence” assessment to “policymakers, warfighters, and domestic law enforcement personnel.”

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