The US is closely following India's legislation giving a new territorial status and governance in Jammu and Kashmir, a State Department official said on Wednesday, after Pakistan expelled the Indian envoy and downgraded diplomatic ties.
The developments came after parliament this week approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and passing a bill for splitting the state into two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
"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 told the Press Trust of India in response to a question on tensions rising between India and Pakistan following the downgrading of diplomatic ties.
This remark from the US seems a departure from its earlier comments on India’s move on Article 370. The earlier comment had said that the US takes “note" of the Indian move. The change in tone could be due to Pakistan putting pressure on the US to come out with a stronger statement, analysts said as Washington looks to Pakistan to help reach a withdrawal pact with the Taliban.
The matter is expected to be discussed during the visit to India by Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells who will be in New Delhi over the next two days.
“Acting Assistant Secretary Wells will hold bilateral consultations on issues of mutual interest with senior government officials in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India, in addition to meetings with business leaders and civil society," a US statement said from Washington.
On Wednesday, the US had said there was an "urgent need" for dialogue to reduce tensions and to avoid a potential military escalation in South Asia. It had also refuted news reports that India had informed the US before revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, a PTI report said.
The State Department spokesperson said that "the US calls for calm and restraint by all parties".
"We continue to be concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir," the State Department spokesperson said.
"We urge respect for individual rights, compliance with legal procedures, and inclusive dialogue with those affected." The US, the spokesperson said the US 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.
India has maintained that the issue is strictly internal to the country.
Meanwhile, Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Eliot Engel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a joint statement on Wednesday expressed concern over what they called restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The two also added that "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."