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South Asia challenges will increase due to elections in India, Afghanistan: US report

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Washington, Jan 30: Director of National Intelligence, US, Daniel Coats expects that challenges in South Asia will grow further in 2019 because of elections coming up in two key states in the region - India and Afghanistan, increasing attacks by the Taliban and Pakistan's hesitation in dealing with militant outfits.

The 75-year-old former senator from Indiana presented during a public testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Tuesday, January 29, a threat assessment report outlining the big global security threats the US is facing, Pakistan daily Dawn reported.

South Asia challenges will increase due to elections in India, Afghanistan: US report

Coats said in his prediction that "militant groups in Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe haven there to plan and conduct attacks in neighbouring countries and possibly beyond".

Ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Pakistan incited violence in India will increase: US intel report

His report held Pakistan responsible for supporting and providing safe haven to terrorists "to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests". It also accused Islamabad of putting into use groups as policy tools and confronting only those militant groups that pose direct threat to Pakistan.

According to the dawn, Coats's predictions came at a time when Pakistan was "playing a pivotal role" in supporting talks between the Taliban and the US to felicitate the Afghan peace process and end the war in that country which is going on for over 17 years now.

The Indian election perspective

Coats's report that strained relations will persist between India and Pakistan "at least through May 2019, the deadline for the Indian election, and probably beyond".

"It attributes this supposition to cross-border terrorism, firing across the Line of Control, divisive national elections in India, and Islamabad's perception of its position with the US relative to India," the Dawn report said.

Also Read | How Rahul Gandhi is changing the election 2019 narrative

It cited the report as warning that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India are expected to play a role in stoking communal violence alienating Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence.

Afghanistan is also set to witness its presidential election in July.

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