December 2, 2022

“Kashmir is one area we have urged them to return to normalcy,” the highest US official stated


India stays the world’s largest democracy with a robust rule of regulation however a few of the Indian authorities’s actions, together with restrictions on freedom of expression, have raised considerations which are inconsistent with the nation’s democratic values, a high US official has instructed lawmakers.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Dean Thompson’s remarks got here throughout a Congressional listening to on Democracy within the Indo-Pacific on Wednesday on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation.

“India remains the world’s largest democracy with a strong rule of law and independent judiciary and enjoys a strong and growing strategic partnership with the United States,” Mr Thompson stated.

“However, some of the Indian government’s actions have raised concerns that are inconsistent with India’s democratic values, he added.

“This consists of rising restrictions on freedom of expression and the detention of human rights activists and journalists,” he said.

Mr Thompson said the US regularly engages in and on these issues, including the important work of civil society.

India has previously rejected criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups on allegations that civil liberties have eroded in the country.

The government has asserted that India has well established democratic practices and robust institutions to safeguard the rights of all.

The government has emphasised that the Indian Constitution provides for adequate safeguards under various statutes for ensuring the protection of human rights.

Responding to a question from lawmakers, Mr Thompson said the US has been concerned in Pakistan and Bangladesh about some of the restrictions on journalists that have been there.

“Similarly, at instances, that has occurred in India; although, I feel, India, we will say, has a really vibrant press total that reviews very freely on its authorities,” he said.

Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, who represents a Congressional district from Pennsylvania, raised the issue of Kashmir during the Congressional hearing.

“Although in fact, they’re two nice democracies, democracies together with ours and India’s will not be with out their flaws and issues. I do have a reasonably large (variety of) Kashmiris in my neighborhood and there’s, in fact, concern concerning the remedy of the Kashmiri individuals,” she said.

“What is the dialogue that’s ongoing between the administration and the Indian authorities on these human rights points broadly, in the event you might share a bit of bit there?” she asked.

Mr Thompson said that the Biden administration routinely raises issues related to a vast array of rights and democratic issues with India.

“Kashmir is one space the place now we have urged them to return to normalcy as rapidly as potential, together with we have seen some steps taken: The launch of prisoners, the restoration of 4G entry, issues of that nature. There are different electoral steps we might wish to see them take and that now we have inspired them to do and can proceed to take action,” Mr Thompson said.

Congressman Steve Chabot said that by many accounts, the US and India, as the world’s two largest democracies, are uniquely poised to join forces in promoting democratic values in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

“And I’m assuming that this administration would agree with that. If so, what initiatives does this administration intend to pursue to make the most of that distinctive relationship between the US and India as the 2 largest democracies?” he asked.

“We are, proper now, via our world complete strategic partnership with India areas the place we will work collectively to strengthen throughout the area the consequences of the power of nations to push again on malign affect and thru the Quad initiative the place we introduced in Japan and Australia, as nicely,” Mr Thompson replied.

Initiated in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad is an informal grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan.

The Quad member countries have resolved to uphold a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

“The US has an amazing alternative to work along with 4 like-minded international locations, all democracies, which are methods we might help ship super reduction within the wake of COVID-19,” Mr Thompson said.

“They can have a look at how we set requirements and work collectively on essential applied sciences and diversifying provide chains. And lastly can struggle local weather change and work on enhancing the environmental scenario throughout the area, he stated.

Congresswoman Houlahan stated the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, are uniquely positioned to affix forces in selling a democratic system and democratic values within the Indo-Pacific area, particularly, and possibly past.

The United States, Mr Thompson stated, has a worldwide complete strategic partnership with India.

The US is methods to each strengthen India’s capacity to be a constructive participant and influencer all through the area, together with the Quad.

The Quad relationship is extraordinarily essential due to the ASEAN centrality and the huge regional attain that it has for us to have the ability to carry these sorts of democratic beliefs throughout the board, he stated.

Our capacity to leverage one another’s help programmes and complement each other the place relationships could also be stronger between us in a rustic versus India in a rustic or vice versa, there’s an incredible, leveraging alternative there, stated the State Department official.

“As is the case around the world, the Chinese government uses a combination of economic levers and soft power to pressure South Asian countries to align with its interests, and smaller countries are especially vulnerable to this pressure,” Mr Thomson stated.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)

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