India is likely to witness another large-scale militant attack on its soil with American attempts to elicit cooperation from Pakistan through aid packages unlikely to affect Islamabad' s behaviour significantly, a leading intelligence group has warned.
New Delhi has refrained from taking overt military action against Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks for fear of destabilising Pakistan further and giving regional jihadists an excuse to focus their attention on India, Stratfor, the global intelligence company noted in its second quarter forecast.
"Yet the gradual unraveling of command and control within the Pakistani military establishment has enabled many more of Islamabad's Islamist militant proxies operating in Pakistan and India to team up with transnational jihadists to carry out deadlier and more strategically targeted attacks," it said.
"Though the timing is uncertain, India is likely to witness another large-scale Islamist militant attack on its soil that will once again escalate cross-border tensions on the subcontinent," Stratfor warned.
The intelligence group said it would not attempt to predict the outcome of "this uncertain election" in India.
"But should the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manage to overcome its setbacks and take the lead, Indian restraint against Pakistan would not be assured in the event of another large-scale militant attack," it said.
Predicting that "American attempts to elicit cooperation from Pakistan through aid packages are unlikely to affect Pakistani behaviour significantly in the near term," the intelligence firm said: "Though Pakistan is threatened by a separate Taliban insurgency at home, it prefers negotiations over force on its side of the border."
"This gap between US and Pakistani policy in managing the insurgency will become more evident in the coming weeks and months as Pakistan fends off US attempts to overhaul the Pakistani intelligence apparatus and makes agreements that undermine the writ of the Pakistani state in its northwest periphery," it said.
Pakistan's preference to avoid combat will allow Taliban forces to concentrate their attacks on the US and NATO supply routes that originate in the port of Karachi, Stratfor forecast.
"The United States is now almost completely dependent on Pakistan; the logistical burden is rising with support for the troop surge, and the militants feel emboldened as Pakistan feels it can use a lighter touch in combating them."
India's concerns will rise as little progress is made in the war, Stratfor said.
India has thus far stayed on the sidelines of US dealings with Pakistan and Afghanistan with its involvement largely limited to two items: First, making clear to Washington that Kashmir is not up for debate as Washington attempts to rehabilitate Pakistan, and second, increasing its presence in Afghanistan.
Much like the Iranians and the Russians, India has no interest in engaging Taliban forces who share a Pashtun link with the Pakistanis, Stratfor said.
While the overall strategic threat posed by the transnational jihadist movement continues to wane, the US-jihadist war, which stretches from Iraq to the Indian subcontinent, remains a dominant theme for 2009, Stratfor said.
"The United States has no choice but to wrap up the war in Iraq so that it can devote more resources to the war in Afghanistan, but the transition from the Middle East to South Asia will not be easy."