ISLAMABAD: Visiting United States (US) Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan on Monday urged India to offer “greater transparency on occupied Kashmir” as is offered by Pakistan on Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
Addressing a joint press conference with at the US Embassy in the federal capital, Hollen said that the US wants India to end the communications blackout and the curfew which has been in place for the past nine weeks.
Hollen said that he requested the Indian government to gather facts about the “detention of hundreds or thousands of people for over 60 days” and highlight greater transparency in order to address “real concerns of rule of law and human rights”.
“In Kashmir, transparency is important so that people know what is happening to their loved ones. It is important to ask questions and to address human rights concerns,” he said.
Maryland Democrat Senator Hollen, who is visiting Pakistan after he was denied permission to visit Srinagar by India, expressed “deep concerns over the humanitarian situation in Kashmir”. Talking about the AJK visit which was facilitated by Pakistan’s government on October 6, Hollen said that they held “very good discussions” with the AJK president and prime minister and mentioned that the United Nations Military Observer Group at the Pakistani side of Kashmir had the freedom to investigate the incidents as compared to its counterpart, which was reportedly confined to Srinagar.
When asked what role the US could play in persuading India to ease restrictions, he said that it was important to speak out for human rights. He said that the US did not have any prior information about the decision India was going to make on August 5.
“Whenever the tensions between Pakistan and India escalate, there is always a danger of miscalculation,” he said.
“In a conflict, there is a risk of escalation and I believe that Prime Minister Imran Khan understands the risk and will do his best to deescalate,” he added.
The senator said that although the recent Kashmir situation had made things difficult between Pakistan and India, “the US would like to see restoration of dialogue between the two countries at some point”.
Senator Hollen, who also visited North Waziristan on October 5, said that he was pleased to see dramatic reduction in violence in the area. He lauded the efforts by Pakistan in the last 10 years in terms of improvement in security after the fight with the Taliban and termed it as a “sign of progress” with headway in shape of transition to civil administration, and construction of building infrastructure, including schools and roads.