n annual intelligence report of the United States claims that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “more likely” to respond with force to Pakistani provocation than in the past. The annual threat assessment of the US intelligence community report 2021 said, “Under the leadership of PM Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations”.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in its Annual Threat Assessment report to the US Congress, said although a general war between India and Pakistan is unlikely, crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle.
The report also mentioned the ongoing situation between India and China stating: “China-India border tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year.” The year 2020 was the worst in decades for India and China due to aggressive action by Chinese forces that killed 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan, at the line of actual control in eastern Ladakh.
“Although a general war between India and Pakistan is unlikely, crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle,” the report said.
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The report puts the prospects for increased regional trade or energy cooperation in South Asia during the next five years as low, “due in part to the high probability of ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan”. Trade within South Asia is already the lowest of any region in the world.
The US intelligence community warns that water insecurity in the region is also an increasing risk. The assessment includes forecasts by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that Pakistan could face absolute water scarcity by 2025, given a combination of poor water conservation practices, rising temperatures, and decreased rainfall.
The report said, “China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas is the most serious escalation in decades and led to the first lethal border clash between the two countries since 1975.” In February, troops from both sides de-escalated at Pangong lake pulling back forces and equipment but Chinese forces have made no move at areas like Hot Springs, Depsang, and Gogra.
The report warned, “Interstate conflicts will also flare, ranging from border sparring, such as that between China and India, to potentially more sustained violent confrontations.”