The Biden administration, if elected, will raise the issue of Kashmir with India and would also convey its concerns on a recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims, says the Biden campaign’s foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken.
In a Thursday afternoon dialogue on American foreign policy at the Hudson Institute, Washington, Blinken also said that the Trump administration’s Iran strategy had “backfired in a massive way”.
Biden to raise Kashmir issue if elected
Blinken, who is a former deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state, has been tasked with drafting the foreign policy of the Biden campaign. As moderator Walter Russel Mead noted, Blinken’s views have become increasingly important because former vice president Joe Biden’s victory in the November election has moved from “a possibility to a likelihood”.
It was Mead who raised the issue of Kashmir in the conversation, pointing out that India had some serious human rights and democracy issues, particularly with Muslims, in Kashmir and elsewhere.
Read more: Myth of Accession: A History of Kashmir
“We obviously have challenges now and real concerns, for example, about some of the actions the Indian government has taken, particularly in cracking down on freedom of movement and freedom of speech in Kashmir, and about some of the laws on citizenship,” said Blinken while responding to the moderator.
“You are always better in engaging with a partner, and with a vitally important one like India, when you can speak frankly and directly about areas where you have differences, even as you are working to build a greater cooperation,” he added.
Blinken said that this would be the Biden administration’s approach while discussing Kashmir and other issues with India because “we have seen evidence that it works”.
Mead noted that while India was a democracy, “it has somewhat a different view of what that might mean than we do”.
Human rights violated by India in Kashmir
Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the disregard for the lives and physical integrity of people in Jammu and Kashmir shown by all sides in the state. The right to life is laid down in major international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which India has ratified, and in the Indian Constitution. Article 6(1) of the ICCPR says: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
Likewise, Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 strictly forbids the killing of anyone “taking no active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause”.
A report was sent to the Indian government on May 4 over “the continued deterioration of human rights conditions” in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, documenting several cases of “arbitrary detentions, violations to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and rights of persons belonging to minorities.”
“We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations,” said the report shared on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) website this week.
Trump administration failed to achieve peaceful outcome in Middle East
Blinken pointed out that while tearing up the US-Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018, the Trump administration claimed that it would negotiate a better deal and the abrogation would make the Middle East a safer place, but it failed to achieve both objectives.
“In fact, the opposite has happened,” said Blinken, adding that the action isolated the US from the partners who helped negotiate the agreement.
“And much more importantly, Iran is restarting dangerous components of its nuclear programme, putting itself in a position where it has a greater capacity to develop a nuclear weapon now than it did when it signed the agreement,” he said.
The Biden administration, he said, would avoid “schizophrenic see-saw” of the Trump administration on Iran, which has brought the world to the brink of a conflict.
In fact, as a part of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, he has supported Israel to annex part of West Bank, a move which has been deemed in violation of international law.
The administration of President Donald Trump, a close ally of Netanyahu, has declined to criticise annexation and has rejected the consensus of most of the world that Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal.
“Decisions about Israelis extending sovereignty to those places are decisions for the Israelis to make,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
"Decisions about Israelis extending sovereignty to those places are decisions for the Israelis to make," Pompeo told reporters https://t.co/E1OLUfM8if
— Randa HABIB (@RandaHabib) June 24, 2020
The plan also calls for major economic investment into Palestinian areas, funded largely by Gulf Arab states that find common cause with Netanyahu and Trump in hostility toward Iran.
Palestinians are hopeful that Biden will roll back the annexation plan if he is elected.
News Desk with info from addl sources