The United States has once again shown its support for the decision taken by the Government of India to revoke a section of Article 370. The US administration has said that “it is proud to partner with India”, the birthplace of four major religions of the world which has a Constitution that “mandates a secular state that upholds the rights of all citizens to practice religion freely, freedom of expression and speech, and equal treatment before the law”. The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells welcomed the steps taken by the Indian government in improving the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
She said, “We welcome actions by the Indian government to improve the situation and address local grievances. The Home Ministry recently stated that following a period as a Union Territory, statehood will be restored to Jammu and Kashmir, reaffirming what Prime Minister Modi UNCLASSIFIED announced in his August 15 Independence Day speech.”
Reminding the government of its decision on Article 370 which was “driven by a desire to increase economic development, reduce corruption, and uniformly apply all national laws in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in regard to women and minorities”, she urged the government to “restore everyday services, including SMS and internet communications, as swiftly as possible”.
The US official called the opening of schools and colleges and the scheduled hearing in the Indian Supreme Court related to Kashmir as “positive steps” and “incremental”. She also encouraged the Government of India to “follow through on its commitment to hold local assembly elections at the earliest opportunity” and hoped that trends like the release of local politicians will continue.
She also expressed her concerns regarding terrorists threatening the people of Kashmir.
“We are concerned about reports of local and foreign terrorists attempting to intimidate local residents and business owners in order to stymie normal economic activity. The United States supports the rights of Kashmiris to peacefully protest, but condemns the actions of terrorists who seek to use violence and fear to undermine dialogue” said Wells.
On the issue of India-Pakistan dialogue, she said that “the foundation of any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against terrorists and terrorists in its territory”.