WASHINGTON: As an opposition leader, Narendra Modi was a vocal critic of India’s government for not responding more forcefully to cross-border attacks from militants based in Pakistan. As prime minister, Mr. Modi has not shied away from openly retaliating in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir against the militants and stirring up nationalist passions. Now, with his tough stance, there are growing concerns that Modi may have narrowed his options, raising the risks of war with India’s nuclear-armed rival, Pakistan, The New York Times said in a report.

Experts are worrying about what India will do when allegedly Pakistan-based militants carry out another attack in India, as is almost certain. And how will Pakistan respond?

“We’re not at the point of no return, but we are in very dangerous waters,” said Bruce Riedel, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who served in the Central Intelligence Agency, where he advised several American presidents on South Asia.

 “When we get to the next terror attack, which is probably only a matter of time, the prime minister has boxed himself in, and he can’t take the route his predecessors did and choose to use solely diplomatic alternatives without some loss of face,” Mr. Riedel said.

That frenzy, stoked by the Indian news media, “is in danger of pushing India into conflict,” said Myra MacDonald, the author of “Defeat Is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War.”

“The Pakistani military would be forced to retaliate in the event of a more prominent strike,” in part to guard its image as the ever-vigilant protector of Pakistan, said retired Lt Colonel Ajay Shukla, who writes about defence.   And there is no predicting where such a conflict could lead, the experts say.

“The big danger here is once you get started up the escalation ladder, how do you cool it off?” Mr. Riedel said.

“I’m scared,” Mr. Shukla said. “We’re not Israel bullying Gaza, or the U.S. with Haiti. We’re the fourth-biggest army confronting the 11th-biggest army.”

Mr. Modi’s predecessors were more risk averse by nature, Mr. Shukla said. “Modi is better at brinkmanship than they were in these actions where there’s an element of risk,” Mr. Shukla said. “Manmohan Singh would not take that risk and would place India’s economic development ahead of it,” he said, referring to the previous prime minister.

That willingness to take risk derives in part from Mr. Modi’s ambition. Where his predecessors looked at Pakistan as a problem to be managed, the Modi administration seems to believe it can solve the Indian-Pakistani conflict, Ms. MacDonald said.“That’s dangerous, because I don’t think they can solve it,” she said.