US senator urges Trump admin to ‘speak out boldly’ on Kashmir
The senator was Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest organization representing muslims of north America.Updated: Sep 01, 2019 22:36 IST
US Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the White House, on Saturday called for the Trump administration to “speak out boldly” in support of human rights in Kashmir and “UN-backed” resolution of the dispute that respects the will of Kashmiris.
Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest organization representing muslims of north America, the senator also spoke about other areas of concern for the community such as Chinese interment of Xinjiang muslims, “independent and viable” state for Palestinians, and the conflict in Yemen.
Sanders was introduced to the gathering by his campaign manager Faiz Shakir, an American of Pakistani descent. It must be noted for context that India-American lawmaker Ro Khanna is the co-chairman of Sanders’s presidential campaign, but he has taken a completely different stand on the issue. “Kashmir is an internal matter for India’s democracy and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan needs to cool his heated rhetoric and not escalate the matter into a war or a conflict,” he is reported to have said recently.
The senator’s remarks on Kashmir hewed close to the portrayal of the Kashmir situation by the government of Pakistan in its bid to seek international intervention and of the United Nations, even when the world body has itself reminded Pakistan of its commitments under the 1972 Simla Agreement, to resolve all disputes with India bilaterally.
“India’s action is unacceptable,” Sanders said. “The communications blockade must be lifted immediately and the United States government must speak out boldly in support of international humanitarian law and in its support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution that respects the will of the Kashmiri people.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly emphasized the need for India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute bilaterally after an initial offer from the US president to mediate, which has now been taken off the table in acknowledgement of India’s long-standing opposition to third-party intervention.
The administration has also said that the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy was an “internal decision” of India.
Sanders said he is “deeply concerned” about the situation in Kashmir, stemming from the revocation of the state’s autonomy, the “crackdown on dissent” and the “communications blackout”.
The crackdown, he added, was denying Kashmiris access to medical care and the travel restrictions are “threatening the life-saving care that patients need.”
Other US lawmakers, even those who have long supported stronger ties with India, such as Eliot Engel and Bob Menendez, both powerful Democrats, have also raised the issue of human rights in Kashmir in the past. They had not commented on the revocation of Article 370 and had cautioned Pakistan against retaliatory actions and infiltrations across the Line of Control.