U.S. Urges India, Pakistan To Respect ‘Line Of Control’ On Kashmir Border
By Manoj Rijal, NEW YORK: Amid escalating tensions between two South Asian arch-rivals India and Pakistan, the United States has called on both the countries to calm down and respect the “Line of Control” that serves as the de-facto border between India-administered Kashmir and the Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
“We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control,” U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells told a group of South Asian journalists in New York on Friday, September 27, 2019.
“We support peaceful assembly and the right to peaceful protest, and again, I emphasize the word ‘peaceful’,” Well said, adding that “we look forward to a restoration of rights and a return to normalcy in Kashmir.”
On the role of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on restoring normalcy back in India-administered Kashmir, Wells expressed her optimism, as she said:
“PM Modi has laid out some political objectives, which include returning Kashmir to a state status and thereby holding elections and I think we look forward to seeing that implemented as soon as possible.”
On the role of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Wells said PM Khan has made important public commitments regarding the need to prevent cross-border terrorism and sanctuary for the terrorist organizations, which, if implemented fully, would provide a strong basis for dialogue.
“With regard to Kashmir, we have expressed our continued concerns over the widespread detentions, including of local political and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
On the role of the U.S. on Kashmir dispute, Wells said President Donald Trump has already made his concern clear over the ongoing Indo-Pak tensions.
“President Trump is ready to facilitate a dialogue, if asked,” Wells said.
India and Pakistan are virtually locked into a standstill since India revoked article 370 of its constitution on August 5, 2019, repealing a special status given to the India-administered Kashmir territories.
This step would bring the state of Jammu and Kashmir at par with other Indian states in terms of development, prosperity and mainstreaming of the Kashmiri people, according to PM Modi.
This move also envisions two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir along with Ladakh from the previously single state of Jammu and Kashmir.
As for the Pakistan-administered Kashmir territories, they already have been divided into two territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and have been run by the Pakistan government without hindrance or reclaiming from the Indian side.
The Line of Control that serves as the real border between Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir previously served as the Ceasefire Line until 1972.
In July 1972, Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan (Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, respectively) signed the Shimla Agreement, in which the Ceasefire Line was converted into and recognized as the “Line of Control.”
The Shimla Agreement requires that both the parties respect the Line of Control and none of them (India and Pakistan) will ever seek to alter it unilaterally – irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations.
Cross-border firings and bitter wars have erupted in the past leading to bloody conflicts when both the sides have failed to respect the Line of Control, prompting infiltrations to and from both the sides.
Published Date: Saturday, September 28th, 2019 | 03:35 PM