US General warns India-Pakistan conflict could result in nuclear exchange

Namrata Tripathi
India moving towards isolating Pakistan, considering punitive actions, US official says

A top United States general has warned that the conventional Indo-Pakistan conflict could eventually escalate into a nuclear exchange as there are chances of "miscalculation" considering attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists and the subsequent potential reactions by India.

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The Commander of the US Central Command or CENTCOM, General Joseph Votel, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that there is an ongoing tension between India and Pakistan which could take a turn for the worse in future, as both the countries are nuclear-powered.

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"India remains concerned about the lack of action against India-focused militants based in Pakistan and even responded militarily to terrorist attacks in India-held territory earlier this year," Votel told American Senators on Thursday.

"We assess that these types of attacks, and the potential reactions, increase the likelihood for miscalculation by both the countries," he said. "Furthermore, India's public policy to 'diplomatically isolate' Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations. This is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers," Votel said, according to Press Trust of India.

Votel also said that Pakistan's continuous focus on its eastern border takes attention away from its efforts to secure its western border with Afghanistan from incursion by Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. However, Islamabad's priority will still remain securing its western border as the country's military seeks to expand border control.

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The US general said that at least seven of the 20 US-designated organisations have "home" on Pakistan.

"So as long as these groups maintain safe haven inside of Pakistan they will threaten long-term stability in Afghanistan. Of particular concern is the Haqqani network which poses the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan," he said.

The general also said that despite consistence calls from the US, the Pakistan security organisations have not taken concrete actions against these terrorists safe havens within its country.

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"We have consistently called upon the Pakistanis to take the necessary actions to deny terrorists safe haven and improve security in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region," he said. "We have seen some promising coordination between the Pakistan and Afghanistan militaries aimed at addressing instability in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region," Votel added.

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