A bipartisan group of senators is pressing President Trump to take immediate action to help facilitate an end to the deepening humanitarian crisis in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), wrote to Trump on Thursday urging him “to immediately facilitate an end to the current humanitarian crisis.”
They asked him specifically to put pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lift curfews imposed on residents of Kashmir and restore telecommunications services in the disputed territory, among other steps.
Trump has repeatedly offered to help mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan but has been rebuffed by Modi, who has insisted that the matter needs to be resolved through bilateral discussions.
Trump met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan face-to-face for the first time in July, during which Trump said he would be willing to mediate the dispute.
“While we support your goal of working with the parties to help find a long-term resolution to the status of Kashmir, we write now to urge you to immediately facilitate an end to the current humanitarian crisis there,” the senators wrote Thursday.
“In keeping with your offer of assistance in July, we believe that U.S. engagement with India will be critical in providing relief for the all of the people of Kashmir,” they wrote.
The senators particularly raised concerns about the Indian government’s revocation of Article 370 of its constitution, which granted special status to allow the state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws. They also pointed to India’s decisions to impose a curfew on residents of Kashmir; to deploy thousands of troops to the region in August; and to impose a communications blackout as evidence the situation has worsened and needs Trump’s attention.
“We ask that you call upon Prime Minister Modi to fully restore telecommunications and internet services, lift the lockdown and curfew, and release Kashmiris detained pursuant to India’s revocation of Article 370,” the senators wrote.
“Pakistan must also end its support and safe haven for militant groups operating on its soil – including those targeting India – and refrain from taking any steps that could further destabilize Kashmir,” they wrote. “The United States has a vital role to play in facilitating a resolution to this humanitarian crisis, and we urge you to act swiftly.”
The senators said the United States could help to play a “constructive role” in resolving underlying disputes between India and Pakistan after the humanitarian situation is addressed.
The conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory has persisted for decades, but tensions flared earlier this year after a February suicide attack that killed more than 40 Indian soldiers in the part of Kashmir that is controlled by India.
Trump has met and spoken with both Modi and Khan over the past several weeks about the situation and has expressed the need for both sides to reduce tensions through bilateral talks.
Khan and Modi will both be present at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, where the issue could come up.
Trump met with Modi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Biarritz, France, at the end of last month. He told reporters that he and Modi spoke about the Kashmir dispute and that Modi told him “he has it under control.”
“The prime minister really feels he has it under control. I know they speak with Pakistan, and I’m sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good. We spoke about it last night at great length,” Trump said.
Trump said he had a “very good relationship” with both Modi and Khan and said he was there to help mediate the dispute but added, “I think they can do it themselves very well.”
Modi, meanwhile, stressed that the issues are of a “bilateral nature” and should be resolved by the two countries alone.
“We do not want to give pains to any country in the world — to, in fact, try to do anything in this, because these issues are bilateral,” Modi told reporters.