US insists no change in Kashmir policy after Pakistan protest

Earlier, State Department had not mentioned IIOJK as a disputed territory

Kamran Yousaf February 12, 2021
Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri. PHOTO: APP/FILE


The United States has clarified that there is no change in its policy on Kashmir as the Biden administration still considers the territory disputed after Pakistan conveyed concerns to Washington over the State Department’s tweet not mentioning Kashmir as a disputed territory.

"I want to be very clear there has been no change in US policy in the region," said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price when he was asked regarding an earlier tweet by the department welcoming restoration of 4G services in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir ((IIOJK). The tweet did not mention the region's disputed status.

“We welcome the resumption of 4G mobile internet in India's Jammu & Kashmir. This marks an important step for local residents and we look forward to continued political & economic progress to restore normalcy in J&K,” read an earlier tweet by the State Department.

The tweet gave the impression that the Biden administration no more considered Kashmir as a disputed territory, something that triggered an immediate response from Pakistan.

While the Foreign Office here on Thursday issued a formal statement expressing Pakistan’s disappointment over the tweet, Islamabad, sources told The Express Tribune, took up the issue with the US through diplomatic channels.

“We are disappointed to note the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the US Department of State’s tweet regarding the resumption of 4G mobile internet in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK),” said Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri in a statement.

“The reference is inconsistent with the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir as recognized by numerous United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the international community,” the statement added.

He further said Jammu and Kashmir is one of the oldest items on the agenda of the UNSC, which remains 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.

“The political and economic progress of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is inextricably linked to the realization of their desire for exercising the right to self-determination,” the statement continued.

The spokesperson said the international community, including the United States, must urge India to stop its consistent and systematic human rights violations in IIOJK – including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, incarceration of political leaders, ongoing efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, extra-judicial killings of Kashmiris in fake encounters and staged cordon-and-search operations – and take genuine steps to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions.

The United States has over the years maintained a delicate balance by not overtly taking sides on the disputed Kashmir region. But in recent year with the convergence of US-India interests because of China factor, Washington often ignores the human rights abuses in the IIOJK.

Pakistan is hoping that under the Biden Administration, the US would take up the human rights issues with India. But observers believe that the new administration may take a different view than that of Trump era.


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