Lawmakers urge Trump to engage Pakistan and India at UN meeting



WASHINGTON: US lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to engage both Indian and Pakistani prime ministers during the UN General Assembly in New York next week and to find a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

“During the UN General Assembly, President Donald Trump and/or the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo must engage both the Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of Pakistan on a reasoned opportunity for resolving the crisis in Kashmir,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas.

“I urge the governments of India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and to engage with the United States to deescalate the situation,” said Congressman Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Maryland.

Congresswoman Jan Shackowsky, a senior Democratic leader from Illinois said, “the United States and the United Nations need to speak out against the atrocities happening right now in the region” as “this is a very dangerous situation.”

She urged all members of the United Nations to note that both India and Pakistan were nuclear countries. That’s why “it’s important that the world community establish law and human rights in Kashmir once again,” she said.

Ms Jackson Lee, who co-chairs the Pakistan caucus in the US Congress but also has good relations with the Indian American community, presented a 5-step formula to the governments of the United States, India, Pakistan and to communities in Kashmir to defuse tensions in the region.

“Both nations are equal in power and dignity throughout the world and therefore a bilateral between the United States and the leadership of India and another bilateral between the leadership of Pakistan is imperative and must take place,” she said in a statement released by her office.

She said she has already sent letters to both the US president and secretary of state on this point and will soon be discussing this with representatives of India and Pakistan.

Noting that India had imposed unprecedented restrictions on the people of Kashmir after annexing their state on Aug 5, Ms Jackson Lee said if changes have been made by the Indian government to provide for the protection of human rights, the restoration of communications and medical care for Kashmir; that must be documented and announced to the world.

The congresswoman noted that Indian Americans and Pakistani Americans have worked together side by side in many communities throughout the United States.

“This is not the time to separate and cease dialogue and communications. I encourage the leadership of these communities to engage each other on the question of peace and involve and invite Members of the United States Congress to participate,” she said.

“This moment in history may be the best time to approach the heads of State for India and Pakistan to find a long-lasting resolution.”

She noted that the government of Pakistan has asked for the restoration of Article 370 but that has not been responded to by the government of India.

Ms Jackson Lee said that her concerns about the situation go beyond human rights violations.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2019



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