ISLAMABAD – US defence intelligence chief has claimed that India was moving towards diplomatically isolating Pakistan and was mulling punitive actions against it for allegedly supporting cross-border terrorism.

According to a report by Times of India, Director Defence Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart said India was updating its military to better position itself to defend New Delhi’s interests in the Indian Ocean region and cement its diplomatic and economic outreach across Asia.

“India has sought and continues to move to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive options to raise the cost to Islamabad for its alleged support to cross-border terrorism,” Lt Stewart said during the US Senate Armed Services Committee on worldwide threats.

The observations came at a time when the nuclear-armed neighbours are already having turbulent relationship due to spree of incidents including terrorism in both the countries and death sentence to RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan.

Lt Stewart said that bilateral ties between Islamabad and New Delhi exacerbated after multiple terrorist attacks plagued law and order situation in New Delhi.

“Continued threat of high-level terror attacks in India, violence in Kashmir and bilateral diplomatic recriminations will further strain India-Pakistan ties in 2017,” he predicted.

“In 2016, Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged some of the heaviest fire in years along the Line of Control [LoC] in Kashmir, and each expelled a number of the other’s diplomats amid growing tension,” the US defence intelligence chief said.

Regarding Pakistan’s fight against terrorism, the official expressed the opinion that the country was likely to gradually move from traditional counterinsurgency actions along its western border to more counter-terrorism and paramilitary assaults throughout the country that remained fruitful in reducing violence.

“Anti-Pakistan groups probably will respond to this sustained pressure by focusing their efforts against soft targets,” Lt Stewart insisted throwing weight behind the US intelligence report that hinted at possibility of militants targeting projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He added, “Islamabad is taking steps to improve its nuclear security and is aware of the extremist threat to its programme.”