The worldwide threat assessment report by the US intelligence has warned of a surge in communal violence in India in the run-up to the upcoming general election.
A written report was given to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, on Tuesday. He said that Pakistan-backed terror outfits will continue to target India and Afghanistan.
Coats was accompanied by the heads of the top American agencies like Christopher Wray of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel and the head of National Security Agency (NSA), Paul Nakasone.
The report said that if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) uses its "Hindu nationalist themes" during the upcoming parliamentary elections there is a high chance of terrorist attacks in India.
Warning on a rise in terror attacks, the assessment report said that the ruling party's policies in the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi "have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, and Hindu nationalist state leaders might view a Hindu-nationalist campaign as a signal to incite low-level violence to animate their supporters".
The challenges facing South Asian states will grow in 2019 because of Afghanistan's presidential election in mid-July and the Taliban's large-scale attacks, Pakistan's recalcitrance in dealing with militant groups, and Indian elections that risk communal violence
The intelligence report also warns Afghanistan. "The challenges facing South Asian states will grow in 2019 because of Afghanistan's presidential election in mid-July and the Taliban's large-scale attacks, Pakistan's recalcitrance in dealing with militant groups, and Indian elections that risk communal violence."
Influence of Islamist terror outfits
An increase in communal clashes could estrange the Muslim community in India, which will expand the influence of Islamist terror outfits in India. According to the report, Iran is not undertaking any new activity to develop a nuclear weapon and North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear programme.
India on its own had not figured much in the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US intelligence, but only for challenges emanating from tensions in ties with Pakistan and China.
On Afghanistan, Coats said: "We assess that neither the Afghan Government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year if coalition support remains at current levels.
Even though the Afghan forces have secured the cities and other government offices, Taliban has increased their attacks.
(With PTI inputs)