`Pak support to terror may lead to war with India`

Admiral Samuel Locklear said the strains between India and Pak could escalate to a nuclear exchange.

Washington: Support to terrorist activities
inside India by elements in Pakistan`s military and its spy
agency could lead to confrontation between the two neighbours
which have the potential to rapidly escalate into a nuclear
exchange, a top American commander on Thursday warned.

Admiral Samuel Locklear told a Senate Committee that
little progress has been made with regard to recent confidence
building measures between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

"Support by elements of Pakistan’s military and
intelligence services for violent extremist organizations
(VEOs) targeting India strains the relationship; this support
has the potential to result in military confrontation which
could rapidly escalate to a nuclear exchange," Locklear told
lawmakers during his confirmation hearing to head the US
Pacific Command (PACCOM).

"Current efforts at dialogue have yielded few concrete
results on the core security issues, especially regarding the
resolution of territorial disputes," he said in a written
response to questions asked by the top Senate panel.

However, he said efforts have provided each side greater
insight into the other’s positions.

"While progress is slow, the trajectory is positive and
offers the promise of increased confidence-building measures,"
he said.

The Admiral said the US can continues to work with
Pakistan to take effective action against groups-based in
Pakistan that advocate and actively participate in attacks
against India. Responding to a question on India-US relationship, the
Admiral said a close, continuing, and expanding security
relationship with India will be important for security and
stability in Asia and for effectively managing Indian Ocean
security in the twenty-first century.

Admiral Locklear said the once nascent relationship
between unfamiliar nations "has evolved into a strategic
partnership between two of the preeminent security powers in

"Today, US-India defense ties are strong and growing,
including a robust state of dialogues, military exercises,
defense trade, personnel exchanges, and armaments
cooperation," the top commander said.

He said efforts over the past ten years have focused on
relationship-building and establishing the foundation "for a
long-term partnership". He said the strong ties between the
two militaries reflect this.

Locklear, however, said India maintains its strategic

"India is essential to achieving long-term US goals for
regional economic development, security and stability, and
wide-ranging cooperation to counter extremism and

he said.
The Admiral underlined that the priorities for the
bilateral ties "should focus on increasing maritime security
cooperation, expanding the military-to-military relationship,
and deepening cooperation on defense trade and production".

"I believe there is potential for cooperating on
counter-proliferation, collaborating on humanitarian
assistance and disaster response, countering piracy,
cooperating on counter-terrorism, greater intelligence sharing
on common threats, and working towards stability in
Afghanistan and the broader Indian Ocean region," he noted.

When asked by lawmakers about India-China relationship,
Locklear said the current relationship between the region`s
two fastest growing powers, is complicated by a trust deficit
stemming from China`s longstanding relationship with Pakistan,
India`s defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian war, and increasing
competition for resources.

"The ongoing border dispute, trade imbalances and
competition for influence across South and Southeast Asia
complicate efforts to reduce the mistrust, he said, adding
that regional states exploit the competitive Sino-Indian
relationship, seeking favorable aid packages from New Delhi
and Beijing to enable their own development.

"New Delhi and Beijing do find common ground and
cooperate in international forums such as BRICS, the G20, and
in Climate Change Conferences where both countries leverage
their convergent interests to shape international trade rules
to ensure their continued domestic development and economic
growth," said the Admiral.