Four US senators have written to President Donald Trump urging him to take action to resolve the issues in Kashmir.
The letter was signed by Senators Todd Young, Chris Van Hollen, Benjamin L Cardin and Lindsey Graham and expressed their “concern regarding the situation in Kashmir, which has grave implications for democracy, human rights and regional stability”. While we support your goal of working with the parties to help find a long-term resolution to the status of Kashmir, we write now to urge you to immediately facilitate an end to the current humanitarian crisis there, they said.
“In keeping with your offer of assistance in July, we believe that US engagement with India will be critical in providing relief for the all of the people of Kashmir,” read the letter.
On August 5, the Indian government unilaterally revoked Article 370 of its constitution, which afforded autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. “Shortly before revoking Article 370, India deployed tens of thousands of additional troops to the Kashmir Valley, imposed curfews on its residents, and severed communications to the region, including access to the internet and telephones,” said the senators, who added that the information blackout has severely limited access to medical services, prevented families from contacting each other, and disrupted the local economy.
“Press reports indicate that at least 4,000 people have subsequently been detained in Kashmir and held under the Public Safety Act – a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial – including local politicians, activists, academics and students.”
With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult, they wrote, asking the president to 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. “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 destabilize Kashmir,” read the letter.
“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.”
President Trump has made multiple offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, offers that have been welcomed by Pakistan and rebuffed by India. The PM Modi-led government calls Kashmir an “internal issue” and says it must be resolved bilaterally. But Pakistan says each time it has extended an offer of talks, India has turned away.
The letter follows 58 countries joining Pakistan at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva to demand that India stop using force, lift the siege in Kashmir and remove other restrictions on them. The European Union has also called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.
Other US leaders, like Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, have also called for a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue.