Pakistan will continue to slip out of America’s influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and pose a threat to American interests in the South Asian region, US intelligence agencies have warned.
The assessment is part of an annual report that Director of US National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, underlining worldwide threat assessment of the American intelligence community.
The 17 agencies that jointly produced this report include Central Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency, Dawn newspaper reports.
In their report on Pakistan, the agencies warned that the country will continue to threaten US interests by “deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counterterrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China”.
The report claimed that Islamabad-backed militant groups will continue to take advantage of their alleged safe haven in Pakistan to “plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.
The agencies also warned Pakistan’s perception of its “eroding position relative to India, reinforced by endemic economic weakness and domestic security issues, almost certainly will exacerbate long-held fears of isolation and drive Islamabad’s pursuit of actions that run counter to US goals for the region”.
In a brief assessment of Islamabad’s nuclear programme, US intelligence agencies informed Congress that Pakistan continues to produce nuclear weapons and develop new types, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles.
“These new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region,” the report added.
The agencies informed Congress that in 2019, relations between India and China will remain tense and will possibly deteriorate further, despite the negotiated settlement to their three-month border standoff in August.
This “elevates the risk of unintentional escalation”, the report added.