A report from the United States has claimed that nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan might engage in a large-scale war unwittingly, even as they would like to avoid military hostility

The Global Trends report, released April 7 in Washington, noted: “India and Pakistan may stumble into a large-scale war neither side wants, especially following a terrorist attack that the Indian government judges to be significant.” The report is compiled by the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council once every four years.

A similar report released by the Obama administration in 2017 had warned of a pandemic and a vast economic disruption as its fallout.

The report looks at the trigger for the potential war between India and Pakistan. It said the ability of some militant outfits to conduct attacks, New Delhi’s resolve to retaliate against Islamabad after such an attack and Islamabad’s determination to defend itself “are likely to persist and may increase” in the next five years.

It warned: “Miscalculation by both governments could prompt a breakdown in the deterrence that has restricted conflict to levels each side judges it can manage.”

The U.S. intel report also noted that such a war could translate into long-term economic fallout. It noted that “a full-scale war could inflict damage that would have economic and political consequences for years”.

The report further underlined that the U.S. policy in Afghanistan is likely to impact the neighbouring countries, especially India and Pakistan. “U.S. actions in Afghanistan during the next year will have significant consequences across the region, particularly in Pakistan and India,” it said.

This would be “especially true” if a security vacuum emerges in Afghanistan that results in a civil war between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents, expanding freedom of manoeuvre for regional militant networks, or criminals and refugees flow out of the country, it adds.

The report concluded that developments in Afghanistan would fuel political tensions and conflict in western Pakistan and sharpen the India-Pakistan rivalry.