Two powerful Democratic lawmakers have urged Pakistan to refrain from any “retaliatory aggression” against India and take “demonstrable action” against terrorist groups within its territory.
Pakistan on Wednesday (August 7) expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and downgraded diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Eliot Engel in a joint statement on Wednesday also expressed concern over the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.
Menendez is a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while Engel is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Pakistan must refrain from any retaliatory aggression, including support for infiltrations across the Line of Control, and take demonstrable action against the terrorist infrastructure on Pakistan’s soil, they said in the statement.
Expressing concern over detention and restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, the lawmakers said that “as the world’s largest democracy, India has an opportunity to demonstrate for all its citizens the importance of protecting and promoting equal rights, including freedom of assembly, access to information, and equal protection under the law.”
“Transparency and political participation are the cornerstones of representative democracies, and we hope the Indian government will abide by these principles in Jammu and Kashmir,” they said.
The Indian Parliament on Tuesday approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and a bill for splitting the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. India has maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and the issue is strictly internal to the country.
US following legislation on status of J&K
Meanwhile, a State Department official on Wednesday said that the US is closely following India’s legislation regarding the new territorial status and governance of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The US is closely following India’s legislation regarding the new territorial status and governance of Jammu and Kashmir. We note the broader implications of these developments, including the potential for increased instability in the region,” a State Department spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, the US had also said there was an “urgent need” for dialogue among all actors to reduce tensions and to avoid a potential military escalation in South Asia. The State Department spokesperson said that “the US calls for calm and restraint by all parties”.
Expressing concern over detention of people in Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesperson said, “We continue to be concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.” “We urge respect for individual rights, compliance with legal procedures, and inclusive dialogue with those affected.”
The US, the spokesperson said, calls on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control, including “taking firm and resolute steps” to combat cross-border terrorism. “We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern,” the spokesperson said.