New Delhi: The United States on Thursday said it is closely watching the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and continues to call for calm and restraint amid strained ties between neighbours India and Pakistan ever since the BJP-led government revoked J&K's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
“We note the broader implications of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir and the potential for increased instability in the region,” said a spokesperson of the US Embassy. While Jammu and Kashmir has been under lockdown after the Centre repealed its special status under Article 370, the two neighbouring countries have been engaged in a war of words.
“We continue to be very concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of the region. We urge respect for human rights, compliance with legal procedures, and an inclusive dialogue with those affected,” the spokesperson said, adding there have been reports of detentions of political leaders, human rights activists, student leaders and civilians too.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti have been in police custody for over a month now as a “precautionary measure”.
“We welcome Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi’s statement that Jammu and Kashmir will soon return to a normal political status,” the statement added.
Urging India and Pakistan to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control (LoC) and to prevent cross-border terrorism, the spokesperson said the US continues to support bilateral talks between the two nations on Kashmir.
At a joint media appearance with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House last month, US President Donald Trump had stunned India by saying that Modi had sought his mediation/arbitration on the Kashmir issue. India, however, India had that no such request was made by the Prime Minister and all issues would be bilaterally resolved.
Trump a week later had said he would "certainly intervene" between India and Pakistan on Kashmir if they wanted him to. He said it was up to India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue but he was ready to assist if the two South Asian neighbours wanted his help. India had made it clear to the US that any discussion on the issue, if at all warranted, would only be with Pakistan.
Earlier on Thursday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper had a telephonic conversation with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh where the two discussed future steps needed to be taken by the two strategic partners to work more closely.
Esper appreciated the central government's position that the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter of India and he hoped that any issue between India and Pakistan would be resolved bilaterally, spokesperson of the defence ministry said.