US asks India to respect human rights in J&K

US asks India to respect human rights in J&K

Two days after Trump-Modi bonhomie in France, US says it is watching J&K situation closely

The United States has once again expressed concern over reports of “detentions and continued restrictions” on people in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and not-so-subtly nudged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government in New Delhi to respect human rights.

President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington D.C. has also asked Pakistan to tone down its rhetoric against India.

The US noted “the broader implications of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir and the potential for increased instability in the region”. Washington D.C. had earlier taken note of New Delhi’s view that Modi Government’s recent decisions to strip J&K of its special status and reorganize the state into two Union Territories were “internal” affairs of India.

The US State Department stated that it was watching the situation in J&K “closely”. The State Department spokesperson issued the statement late on Thursday – just two days after Modi and Trump had met on the sideline of the G-7 summit at Biarritz in France.

“We spoke last night about Kashmir. The Prime Minister really feels he has it (situation) under control. They (India) speak with Pakistan and I am sure that they (India and Pakistan) will be able to do something that will be very good,” the US President had said. He had earlier irked New Delhi repeatedly by offering to play the role of a mediator to resolve India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir.

New Delhi has since long been maintaining that the 1972 Simla Agreement between the two nations and the 1999 Lahore Declaration had left no scope for any third party to play any role in settling outstanding bilateral issues between the two South Asian neighbours.

Trump’s statement after his meeting with Modi on Tuesday had indicated that he had finally relented and taken his to play the role of mediator between India and Pakistan off the table. “I have very good relationship with both the gentlemen (Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan) and I'm here. I think they can do it (resolve the issue) themselves,” he had said, in response to a query on his offer.

Modi too had said that India and Pakistan could hold talks and resolve outstanding bilateral issues without intervention by any third party.

Trump’s offers for mediation between India and Pakistan had struck jarring notes New Delhi’s with Washington D.C. The bonhomie between Prime Minister and US President after the bilateral meeting at Biarritz in France had signaled that both sides had agreed to move on.

But the statement issued by US State Department late on Thursday again put New Delhi on a fix.

“We urge respect for human rights, compliance with legal procedures, and inclusive dialogue with those affected (in J&K),” it said.

“We welcome PM’s Modi’s statement that J&K will soon return to a normal political status. We call on all parties to maintain peace along the Line of Control and to prevent cross-border terrorism.  We support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues,” it added.