The Asian Age – Donald Trump to flag CAA, religion

Economic and energy ties as well as cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region will also be discussed, the US said.

Sridhar Kumaraswami

New Delhi – India, 23 February 2020. US President Donald Trump will raise the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and religious freedom issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit next week, and he will convey that “the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law”, the US administration said on Saturday.

It added that President Trump “will also encourage bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan” on the Kashmir issue, adding that the US expects Pakistan to crack down on terror outfits operating there.

The US said the “Make in India” campaign raised fears in the US of “protectionist” policies by New Delhi, while pointing to “the failure of the Indian government to provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors”.

Economic and energy ties as well as cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region will also be discussed, the US said.

In response to a question on the CAA, the US administration said, “President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration.

And I think that the President will talk about these issues in his meetings with Mr Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities.”

The US administration added, “Prime Minister Modi, in his first speech after winning the election last year, talked about how he would prioritise being inclusive of India’s religious minorities. And, certainly, the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law.

Of course, it’s in the Indian constitution, religious freedom, respect for religious minorities, and equal treatment of all religions in India. We have great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, and we will continue to encourage India to uphold those traditions.

India is a country rich in religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity. In fact, it’s the birthplace of four major world religions.”

On Kashmir and Pakistan, the US said, “What you’ll hear from the President is very much encouraging a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan, encouraging the two countries to engage in bilateral dialogue with each other to resolve their differences.

We continue to believe a core foundation of any successful dialogue between the two is based on continued momentum in Pakistan’s efforts to crack down on terrorists and extremists on its territory. So we continue to look for that.

But I think the President will urge both countries to seek to maintain peace and stability along the line of control and refrain from actions or statements that could increase tensions in the region.”

On whether India’s “participation” in the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), that had earlier given India many concessions could be “restored”, the US said, “The concerns that led to the revocation, suspension of India’s GSP access remains a concern for us. We continue to talk to our Indian colleagues about addressing these market access barriers.”

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/230220/donald-trump-to-flag-caa-religion.html

Scroll.in – Jammu and Kashmir: SMS services, blocked since August, to be restored at midnight

The Union Territory’s administration has also decided to restore internet services in hospitals.

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 31 December 2019. Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said on Tuesday that SMS services will be restored in the Union Territory from midnight, ANI reported.

SMS services, along with mobile internet and all other forms of communications, were shut down on August 5, when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has also decided to restore internet services in hospitals, Scroll.in has learnt.

The Ladakh administration on December 27 restored 4G mobile internet connectivity in Kargil, after a gap of 145 days. However, mobile internet services remain blocked in the Kashmir Valley. Postpaid mobile phone services were restored across all networks in the Kashmir Valley on October 14.

Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav said on December 27 that internet connectivity can be restored in the Kashmir Valley based on the assessment of security. “I’m expecting that things will be restored soon,” he said.

The Centre, apart from imposing a lockdown in the erstwhile state, had also put mainstream political leaders like National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti under house arrest.

Farooq Abdullah was later detained under the Public Security Act, and his detention extended on December 14 by three months. On Monday, India released five political detainees, two from the National Conference and three from the Peoples Democratic Party.

India has faced increasing international pressure to bring Kashmir back to normalcy. On October 25, the United States had asked India to provide a road map for the restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, including the immediate release of all political detainees.

“We continue to press for the release of detainees for the full restoration of everyday services, but most importantly, for a roadmap for the restoration of political and economic normalcy,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells said.

https://scroll.in/latest/948413/jammu-and-kashmir-sms-services-blocked-since-august-to-be-restored-at-midnight

The Hindu – In a first, USA lawmakers take a step against India on Kashmir

Senate panel adds appeal to end the “humanitarian crisis” in Kashmir in its report.

Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi – India, 05 October 2019. In what could become the first step towards legislative action by American lawmakers against India on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has added an appeal to end what it calls a “humanitarian crisis” in Kashmir in its report ahead of the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020.

The amendment was proposed by Senator Chris Van Hollen, who visited Delhi this week as a part of a congressional delegation that discussed the Kashmir situation as well as India-USA bilateral relations, trade ties and defence purchases with key officials.

‘Restore communication’

According to the report, which was submitted to the Senate by Lindsey Graham, senior Senator and key Republican leader known for his close ties to President Donald Trump, the committee on Appropriations “notes with concern the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and calls on the Government of India to: fully restore telecommunications and Internet services; lift its lockdown and curfew; and release individuals detained pursuant to the Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution.”

What makes the report as well as the tough language on Kashmir more startling is that the document was submitted on 26 September, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was still in the US, and came just a few days after his joint address at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston with Mr. Trump, as well as their bilateral meeting in New York.

Expression of concern

“This amendment, which was accepted unanimously by the bipartisan committee, is a strong expression of concern by the Senate about the situation in Kashmir and sends the signal that we are closely monitoring the human rights situation there, and would like to see the Government of India take those concerns seriously,” Mr. Van Hollen told The Hindu here, adding that he had “hoped to share his concerns privately” with Prime Minister Modi, but had not been able to meet him.

Mr Van Hollen had met with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Washington last week and Senator Bob Menendez, also a part of the delegation, met with Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal this week in Delhi. Both Senators have made public statements in the last two months on the Kashmir situation.

Denied permission

While it is unclear whether their concerns over Kashmir elicited any responses from the government, The Hindu has learnt that Senator Van Hollen was rebuffed when requested permission to visit Srinagar in an effort to assess the situation on the ground.

When asked, MEA officials said the Ministry of Home Affairs handled such requests. No diplomat or foreign journalist has yet been given clearance to visit Kashmir since the government’s decision on Article 370 on 05 August.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in Delhi on Friday, Mr Jaishankar said many key decision-makers in the USA had been “misinformed by their media” and that he had spent considerable efforts in the past few weeks to clear misconceptions on the government’s decision to drop the “temporary” Article 370.

With inputs from Sriram Lakshman

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/in-a-first-us-lawmakers-take-a-step-against-india-on-kashmir/article29598290.ece