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Lawmaker introduces Kashmir resolution in US lower house

Dec 09, 2019

Indian-descent lawmaker Pramila Jayapal has introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives that urges India to normalise the situation in Jammu and Kashmir “as swiftly as possible”, but recognises, at the same time, “the continuing threat of state-supported cross-border terrorism”.

Jayapal’s proposed resolution, which has been co-sponsored by Republican Steve Watkins, seeks to urge India to “lift the remaining restrictions on communications and restore internet access as swiftly as possible”, release detainees, allow international observers and journalists to visit the area, and “preserve religious freedom for all residents”.

For the resolution to be adopted by the House, it must secure 218 votes in the 435-member chamber and it could be immediately ascertained if it enjoys that kind of support.

The progressive caucus of the Democratic party has been the most vocal in its criticism of the restriction imposed in Kashmir after the nullification of Article 370 in August. Jayapal is a leading member, and so are Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

Tlaib has introduced a separate resolution, in November, did not recognize the role of cross-border terrorism, obscuring, therefore, the role of Pakistan. Though her resolution did concede terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad have “contributed to the harsh conditions and dire human rights situation” in Kashmir.

Jayapal had announced her intention to bring a resolution in October, at a hearing convened by a subcommittee of the House foreign affairs committee.

She had also raised much the same issues and concerns as listed in the proposed resolution she introduced Friday.

The lawmaker from Washington state came under pressure in between, from Indian American community representatives through meetings, protests and letters.

Indian diplomats tried as well. They have met her several times and have sought to update her on developments in Kashmir, and also tried to follow up on complaints from constituents she posted on Twitter feed, about they not being able to contact their relatives in Kashmir.

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