Another Mumbai-style terror attack on India emanating from Pakistan holds the potential of triggering off a nuclear confrontation, a report by the US intelligence said today, identifying Afghanistan as the next focus of a future rivalry between the two countries.
The report, however, said that normalisation of Indo-Pak trade would be a critical factor in building trust between the two countries over the next few years.
"India worries about a second Mumbai-style terrorist attack from militants backed by Pakistan. A major incident with many casualties and Pakistani fingerprints would put a weakened Indian Government under tremendous pressure to respond with force, with the attendant risk of nuclear miscalculation," said the report.
Pakistan's large and fast-growing nuclear arsenal in addition to its doctrine of "first use" is intended to deter and balance against India's conventional military advantages, said the fifth installment of the 'Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,' of National Intelligence Council (NIC).
According to the NIC report, running into more than 150 pages, Afghanistan could become the focus of future Indian-Pakistani competition, particularly after the drawdown in US and NATO forces post-2014.
"Both countries want to deny giving the other a strategy advantage, making regional cooperation difficult. More broadly, conflicting strategic goals, widespread distrust, and hedging strategies of all Afghanistan's neighbours - not just India and Pakistan - will make it difficult to develop a strong regional security framework," it said.