US lawmakers urge Trump to press India to lift communication blackout in Kashmir

US lawmakers urge Trump to press India to lift communication blackout in KashmirWASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of four influential US lawmakers Thursday expressed concern over the human rights situation in Kashmir and urged President Donald Trump to press India to lift the communication blackout and release those who have been detained.

The senators also said that Pakistan should end support to terrorism and refrain from taking any steps that could destabilize Kashmir.

In a letter addressed to Trump, Senators Chris Van Hollen, Todd Young, Ben Cardin and Lindsay Graham said, “With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult.

“Therefore, we ask that you call upon Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi to fully restore telecommunications and internet services, lift the lockdown and curfew, and release Kashmiris detained pursuant to India’s revocation of Article 370.”

Restrictions were imposed when New Delhi had August 5 scrapped the state’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The lawmakers said Pakistan must also end its support and safe haven for militant groups operating on its soil including those targeting India and refrain from taking any steps that could further destabilise Kashmir.

“The United States has a vital role to play in facilitating a resolution to this humanitarian crisis, and we urge you to act swiftly. Once the urgent humanitarian situation has been addressed, we hope the United States can play a constructive role in helping resolve the underlying disputes between the two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan,” they wrote.

They said the situation in Kashmir has grave implications for democracy, human rights and regional stability.

“We believe that US engagement with India will be critical in providing relief for the all of the people of Kashmir,” the lawmakers said.

In another statement, Congressman Eric Swalwell said the strife in Kashmir isn’t just about India and Pakistan, it is an issue that has worldwide military, economic, and moral consequences.

“The United States must show patient diplomacy to de-escalate the rhetoric and ensure these two nuclear powers do not reach a point of no return,” he said.

“This can be progressively achieved beginning with measures such as the immediate restoration of the ability for Kashmiris to communicate with their families and by working toward re-establishment of democratic governance,” Swalwell said.

Asserting that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”, India has defended imposition of restrictions in the Kashmir Valley on the grounds that they were put to prevent Pakistan from creating more mischief through proxies and terrorists.

On Saturday, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said mobile phone and internet services can easily be used by Pakistan and terrorists for subversive activities, but the denial of these services should not prevent people from going about their lives. PTI


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