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India-Pakistan conflict could escalate into ‘nuclear exchange’, says US General

General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, said a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2017 11:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Indo-Pak wars,General Joseph Votel,CETCOM
File photo of Indian Army soldiers near the Line of Control in Poonch district, J-K.(AP File )

A top US military general has warned that India’s policy to “diplomatically isolate” Pakistan hinders of the improvement of ties between the countries enhancing the risk, thus, of conventional conflict leading to a nuclear exchange.

General Joseph L Votel told the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee at a hearing on Thursday that attacks in India from terrorists based in Pakistan and the reaction “likelihood for miscalculation by both countries” and “India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations”.

“This,” he told senators, “is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers.”

The general spoke of India’s concerns about lack of action against India-focused militants based in Pakistan and the surgical strike undertaken by the Indian military against terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan in 2016.

The general’s command overseas US operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and he echoed the country’s mounting concern with Pakistan, who he called a critical partner in counterterrorism, when he said that “of particular concern to us is the Haqqani Network (HQN) which poses the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan”.

To date, he stressed, “the Pakistan military and security services have not taken lasting actions against HQN” despite repeated calls from to 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”.

Saying “there are challenges with respect to the US-Pakistani relationship, we have endeavoured to maintain a substantial level of engagement with our Pakistani military counterparts”.

First Published: Mar 09, 2017 22:21 IST