New Delhi: Pakistan-supported militant groups will continue to conduct terrorist attacks in India, America’s spymaster has said. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats also said Pakistan’s “narrow approach to counterterrorism cooperation-using some groups as policy tools and confronting only the militant groups that directly threaten Pakistan-almost certainly will frustrate US counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban.”

Coats and heads of other top American intelligence agencies appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday for worldwide threat assessment. Among those present were CIA Director Gina Haspel, who has just visited India, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley.

Coats also warned of the possibility of communal violence in India before the Lok Sabha elections, the security threat posed by nuclear programmes of India and Pakistan, and Indian ties with China next year.

“Militant groups supported by Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests,” Coats told the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said reports.

“The continued growth and development of Pakistan and India’s nuclear weapons programmes increase the risk of a nuclear security incident in South Asia, and the new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region,” Coats said.

Though India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping held an informal summit in April 2018, Coats said, they did not address border issues. “Misperception of military movements or construction might result in tensions escalating into armed conflict,” he warned.

“We expect relations between India and China to remain tense, despite efforts on both sides to manage tensions since the border standoff in 2017, elevating the risk of unintentional escalation,” Coats told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a Congressional hearing on World Wide Threat assessment of the US intelligence community.

Coats said that the challenges facing South Asian states will grow because of Afghanistan’s presidential election mid-July and the Taliban’s large-scale attacks, Pakistan’s inability in dealing with militant groups, and Indian elections.

“Neither the Afghan Government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year if coalition support remains at current levels,” he said.