Envoys' visit to Jammu and Kashmir 'important step', says US but expresses concern over political leaders' detentions, internet shutdown

  • US State Department has described recent visit of envoys of 15 countries to Jammu and Kashmir as an 'important step'

  • It expressed concern over continued detention of political leaders, restrictions on internet in region

  • Restrictions were imposed on 5 August last when India abrogated the Article 370

Washington: The US State Department has described the recent visit of envoys of 15 countries to Jammu and Kashmir as an "important step" but expressed concern over the continued detention of political leaders and restrictions on internet in the region.

 Envoys visit to Jammu and Kashmir important step, says US but expresses concern over political leaders detentions, internet shutdown

Representational image. PTI

The restrictions were imposed on 5 August last when India abrogated the Article 370 that gave special powers to Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.

In the first such trip by foreign diplomats post 5 August, envoys of 15 countries, including the US, last week visited Jammu and Kashmir where they interacted with select political representatives, civil society members as well as top military brass with the Indian government rejecting criticism that it was a "guided tour".

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, who will be travelling to South Asia this week, on Saturday expressed hope that the region will return to normalcy.

"Closely following US Ambassador to India and other foreign diplomats' recent trip to Jammu and Kashmir. Important step. We remain concerned by detention of political leaders and residents, and Internet restrictions. We look forward to a return to normalcy," she said in a tweet.

Wells will travel to New Delhi from 15 to 18 January to attend the Raisina Dialogue. She will also meet with senior government officials to advance the US-India strategic global partnership following the success of the 2019 US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, and will discuss topics of mutual interest with members of the business community and civil society.

From New Delhi, Wells will fly to Islamabad where she will meet with Pakistan's top officials and members of civil society to discuss issues of bilateral and regional concern.

Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Reacting sharply to India's decision, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian high commissioner.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

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Updated Date: Jan 12, 2020 13:39:31 IST