The US intelligence community on Thursday called out Pakistan for supporting anti-India militants, leading to deteriorating ties with India. The observation was made in the "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community" annual report.
It further warned that relations could worsen in the event of another major terrorist strike on India.
Could this mean the Trump administration will revamp America's South Asia policy?
Do you know?
Worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community
The report includes inputs from all 17 of America's intelligence agencies and looks into a wide range of threats including cyber threats, weapons of mass destruction and emerging challenges including environmental security.
What does the report say on threats from Pakistan?
The report warned against the possibility of persistent diffused threats to the US and the West from Pakistani terrorist groups.
Pakistan's tactical nuclear weapon arsenal and its willingness to deploy them early on in crisis situations is termed alarming.
It added that the possession of these weapons lowers the threshold of use and increases the likelihood of them falling into the hands of terrorists.
On India-Pakistan bilateral relations
Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats noted that India-Pakistan ties were deteriorating because of "Pakistan's support to anti-India militants and New Delhi's growing intolerance to this policy".
He further attributed recent escalation to repeated ceasefire violations and Pakistan's reluctance to investigate the Pathankot attacks.
Coats added that de-escalation would hinge upon sustained reductions in cross border attacks and movement in the Pathankot investigations.
Terrorist groups named
The report notes that terrorist groups may opt for "opportunistic strikes on the US homeland" and strike softer targets including the upcoming China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Terrorist groups identified as the greatest threat to Pakistan's internal security include, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, ISIS-Khurasan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Role of US in India-Pakistan relations
The US has historically counted Pakistan an ally. Although it has recently strengthened engagement with India, US has continued to provide defence aid to Pakistan, ignoring India's allegations on cross-border terrorism.
Post nuclear tests in 1998, US has played a neutral role alleviating tense situations, including Kargil War (1999) and the military standoff after Parliament attack of 2001, fearing escalation to nuclear war.
What does this mean?
The report holds significance for officially acknowledging India's position on Pakistan's support for terror. This can further be taken as a sign of a strengthening of the Indo-US relationship.
Further, both India and Pakistan are significant for USA. It would rather not deal with a conflict under the nuclear shadow in South Asia, and is likely to use diplomatic pressures to avert the same.