By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Seven lawmakers urged Washington's top diplomats in India and Pakistan on Tuesday to use the U.S.'s diplomatic leverage to de-escalate the ongoing crisis in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian government has instituted a communications blackout and imposed a curfew in the region since August when it stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special administrative status guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Scores of people have been detained since the clampdown began Aug. 5.
"This presents tremendous danger to global peace and a clear national security risk for the United States. Pakistan and India are both valued allies, crucial to our interests in the region, including the Afghanistan peace process,” congressmembers Donald Beyer, Raul Grijalva, Alan Lowenthal, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu, James McGovern and Ilhan Omar wrote.
"It is of the utmost importance that we leverage our relationships with their governments to deescalate the situation," they added.
The lawmakers also encouraged U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, and Chargé d’ Affaires of United States Embassy in Pakistan Paul W. Jones "to do everything in your power" to get Indian authorities to release detainees taken on arbitrary pretexts, end the communications blackout, allow press access, and "emphasize the centrality of Kashmiri voices in determining the future of Jammu and Kashmir."
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.
The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
After New Delhi's move of scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, it has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5.
Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.