US official to India: Lift curbs, release detainees in Kashmir

New York: The United States hopes to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees in the Valley, the senior U.S. diplomat for South Asia said on Thursday.

Alice Wells, the acting assistant secretary of state for South Asia, referred to a plan laid out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for restoring political life in Jammu and Kashmir after India last month removed the decades-old autonomy it had enjoyed under India’s constitution.

 

“I think we are interested in knowing the next steps,” she told reporters. “We hope to see rapid action in the lifting of restrictions and the release of those who have been detained.”

Wells added that “a lowering of rhetoric would be welcome, particularly between two nuclear powers.”

Wells spoke after U.S. President Donald Trump met separately with both Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

On Tuesday, Trump urged Modi to improve ties with Pakistan and “fulfill his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people,” the White House said.

The previous day Khan had urged Trump in a meeting to use U.S. influence to help end India’s “siege” of the volatile territory.

Trump this week reiterated that he would be willing to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Wells said Modi had made clear he was not seeking mediation.

Wells also asked Pakistan why it is only bothered about the human rights of Muslims in Kashmir and is not highlighting the “horrific conditions” which continue to exist for the members of the community throughout China.

Alice Wells, during her special briefing at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for not speaking out against China, which has detained an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang province.

“I would like to see the same level of concern expressed also about Muslims who are being detained in Western China, literally in concentration-like conditions. And so being concerned about the human rights of Muslims does extend more broadly than Kashmir, and you’ve seen the administration very involved here during the UN General Assembly and trying to shine a light on the horrific conditions that continue to exist for Muslims throughout China,” Wells said.

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