Daniel Coats, the Director of US National Intelligence, during a Congressional hearing on Worldwide Threats on May 11, 2017, told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that Pakistan-based terrorist groups are planning to attack India and Afghanistan.
Pakistan-based terror groups have been attacking India and Afghanistan repeatedly. Due to this act, Islamabad's relations with its neighbours especially with India and Afghanistan have become worse.
India faced worst attack in Mumbai in 2008 Mumbai, also known as 26/11. Since then, India has beefed up its security both at the borders and along its long coastline where over 60 percent of its strategic assets are located.
Let us take a look at some of the Pakistan-based terrorists' outfits that have attacked India.
In his address, Coats said, "Islamabad has failed to curb militants and terrorists in Pakistan. These groups will present a sustained threat to the United States interest in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan."
Expressing concern over Pakistan's expanding nuclear arsenal, he said that Islamabad is expanding its nuclear programme to pursue tactical nuclear weapons.
He told lawmakers that the political and security situation in South Asia, particularly, in Afghanistan will deteriorate through 2018 even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners.
Speaking about Afghanistan, he said, "This deterioration is undermined by its dire economic situation. Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban."
Speaking further, he said, "Meanwhile, we assess that Taliban is likely to continue to make gains especially in rural areas. Afghan Security Forces' performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertion, poor logistic support and weak leadership."
On India-Pakistan relations, Coats said, "Pakistan is concerned about international isolation and India's rising international status including India's expanded foreign outreach and deepening ties with the United States. For this, "Pakistan will likely turn to China to offset its isolation, empowering a relationship that will help Beijing to project influence into the Indian Ocean."
What Coats has said is worrisome. With an unstable neighbour that is experiencing violence within the country, the chances of launching terror attacks in neighbouring countries are more. This takes us back to 26/11 terror attacks that are still etched in people's mind.
On November 26, 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, a Pakistan-based Islamic militant organisation, launched a series of attacks, including shooting and bombing, for four days across Mumbai, lasting till November 29, 2008. The attacks led to the killing of 164 people and wounded 308 others.
Of the 10 LeT terrorists, who carried out the attack, nine of them were killed during the siege and the lone survivor, Ajmal Kasab, was captured and later hanged till death in 2012.
This incident of cross-border terrorism has brought India-Pakistan relations to an all-time low. However, Pakistan has been denying that its soil has been used for the Mumbai attacks.
Contradicting Pakistan's claims, Islamabad's former National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani on March 6, 2017, said that the Mumbai 2008 attacks were carried out by a terror-group based in Pakistan. He referred to that attack as a "classic" example of cross-border terrorism.
While speaking at Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, Durrani made it clear that the Pakistani Government had "no role in the attack." The prime suspect and mastermind of the attack is Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, LeT operations 'commander'. Since the time he got bail in 2015, Lakhvi has been in hiding.
Similarly, the plane hijacking in December 1999 is a chilling account of terrorism in Afghanistan. The hijacking was carried out by Pakistan-based group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, wherein, the hijackers forced the aircraft to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which at the time was under the control of Afghan Taliban.
At this time, most of Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban. The motive behind the hijacking was to secure the release of some prominent terrorists who were imprisoned in India. The hostage crisis lasted for seven days and ended with India agreeing to release the three terrorists, identified as Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.
Both India and Afghanistan have seen attacks and hijacking carried out by Pakistani groups which continue to live without fear within the country. With the mastermind of the attack on bail and in hiding and the recent increase in violence in Afghanistan, the latest terror alert must be taken seriously and security at all border points must be increased.
What Coats said is a cause for worry for Indian and Afghanistan. Coats warning should not go unheeded, both in India and Afghanistan.