THE US State Department has clarified that there has been no change in America’s Kashmir policy and Washington still considers both Jammu and Kashmir as a territory disputed between India and Pakistan. The clarification, given at a news briefing on Wednesday afternoon, followed a string of statements by US President Joe Biden and senior officials of his administration, outlining their policies towards the South and Central Asian regions. In a tweet, welcoming India’s decision to restore 4G services in Occupied Kashmir, the US State Department identified the region as ‘India’s Jammu and Kashmir’ omitting its disputed status.
The clarification is welcome and the issue should end at that but it would have been in the fitness of things if the tweet in question was revised and the omission was acknowledged in a clear manner. Pakistan Foreign Office has done well by expressing disappointment over the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the US Department of State’s tweet regarding the resumption of 4G mobile internet in (IoK), adding that it is inconsistent with the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir as recognized by numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions and the international community. It has also pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir was one of the oldest items on the agenda of the UNSC, which remained unresolved because of “India’s intransigence and unwillingness to implement the relevant UNSC resolutions and its own solemn commitments made to Pakistan, the Kashmiris and the international community”. There are reasons to believe that the omission was a deliberate attempt to please India as the new US administration’s policy outlines indicate a gradual change of emphasis from Pakistan and Afghanistan to China against and New Delhi is being prepared as a counter-weight to Beijing. However, this should not be done at the cost of the fundamental rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir who are waging a struggle for the purpose for the last over seven decades. Though the United States has not fulfilled its responsibility as the only superpower of the globe to help realize the right of self-determination for Kashmiris and instead claimed on numerous occasions that it can only mediate on the issue if both India and Pakistan agree but it has all along been acknowledging it a dispute. It may also be pointed out that the new administration has welcomed lifting of Internet curbs but is closing its eyes to a host of actions that amount to trampling of rights of Kashmiris and their physical and economic elimination. The apparently deliberate omission carries a subtle message that Pakistan should be prepared for similar other changes in approach by the US administration which has included a record about two dozen Indian-American officials in its team. Pakistan Foreign Office and our embassy in Washington will have to work hard to safeguard interests of the country, especially with regard to key issues.