New Delhi: The US has asked India to come up with a "roadmap" for the restoration of political and economic normalcy in Kashmir following the imposition of restrictions in the region after New Delhi revoked a provision in its constitution that conferred special status on Kashmir.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells sought the release of all politicians detained in Kashmir but added that it had seen "progress" in easing of restrictions in place since August. She also urged Pakistan to take "sustained and irreversible" steps against terrorists operating from its territory, a PTI report from Washington said.
The comments seem to indicate the State Department in Washington trying to do a balancing act among India, Pakistan and members of the US Congress.
India has said revocation of article 370 is an internal matter given that it was a temporary provision of its constitution that was revoked. Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar was in Washington on a three-day visit in september during which he met many members of the US Congress, opinion makers and spoke at thinktanks to put forth India’s views on the matter.
Pakistan has slammed the Indian move as well as its actions in detaining political leaders and imposing curbs on communications including phones and internet access. Members of a US congressional group this week expressed concern over the detention of mainstream politicians who had been taken into preventive custody after New Delhi implemented its decision to revoke special status to Jammu and Kashmir and splitting the state into two Union Territories.
"We continue to press for the release of detainees for the full restoration of everyday services, but most importantly, for roadmap to the restoration of political and economic normalcy," Alice Wells told reporters in Washington, the PTI report said.
The US remains "deeply concerned" about the situation in the Valley where daily life of nearly eight million residents has been severely impacted since the decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status and to "detain without charge" political leaders and restrict communications, Wells said in an interaction with reporters.
"We've seen progress, for example, four million postpaid mobile phone users have had service restored, but SMS and internet is restricted," she said.
Noting that journalists have extensively covered developments in Kashmir, Wells however said the role of some of the international reporters have been particularly important, but journalists continued to face challenges in access while reporting due to the security restrictions.
Wells said terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen "obviously are the problem".
"In this vein, we welcome (Pakistan) Prime Minister (Imran) Khan's unambiguous statement in September that anyone who crosses from Pakistan to carry out violence in Kashmir are enemies of both Pakistan and the Kashmiri people," she was quoted as saying.
"The constructive dialogue that we'd like to see between India and Pakistan must be based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists in its territory," Wells said.