Biden as president will raise Kashmir issue with India, says his adviser

Updated 02 Aug 2020

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Democrat president nominee Joe Biden's foreign policy adviser declares that concerns on recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims will be conveyed to Delhi. — AFP/File
Democrat president nominee Joe Biden's foreign policy adviser declares that concerns on recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims will be conveyed to Delhi. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration, if elected, will raise the issue of Kashmir with India and would also convey its concerns on a recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims, says the Biden campaign’s foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken.

In a Thursday afternoon dialogue on American foreign policy at the Hudson Institute, Washington, Blinken also said that the Trump administration’s Iran strategy had “backfired in a massive way”.

Blinken, who is a former deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state, has been tasked with drafting the foreign policy of the Biden campaign. As moderator Walter Russel Mead noted, Blinken’s views have become increasingly important because former vice president Joe Biden’s victory in the November election has moved from “a possibility to a likelihood”.

It was Mead who raised the issue of Kashmir in the conversation, pointing out that India had some serious human rights and democracy issues, particularly with Muslims, in Kashmir and elsewhere.

“We obviously have challenges now and real concerns, for example, about some of the actions the Indian government has taken, particularly in cracking down on freedom of movement and freedom of speech in Kashmir, and about some of the laws on citizenship,” said Blinken while responding to the moderator.

Blinken declares that concerns on recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims will be conveyed to Delhi

“You are always better in engaging with a partner, and with a vitally important one like India, when you can speak frankly and directly about areas where you have differences, even as you are working to build a greater cooperation,” he added.

Blinken said that this would be the Biden administration’s approach while discussing Kashmir and other issues with India because “we have seen evidence that it works”.

Mead noted that while India was a democracy, “it has somewhat a different view of what that might mean than we do”.

Blinken pointed out that while tearing up the US-Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018, the Trump administration claimed that it would negotiate a better deal and the abrogation would make the Middle East a safer place, but it failed to achieve both objectives.

“In fact, the opposite has happened,” said Blinken, adding that the action isolated the US from the partners who helped negotiate the agreement.

“And much more importantly, Iran is restarting dangerous components of its nuclear programme, putting itself in a position where it has a greater capacity to develop a nuclear weapon now than it did when it signed the agreement,” he said.

The Biden administration, he said, would avoid “schizophrenic see-saw” of the Trump administration on Iran, which has brought the world to the brink of a conflict.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2020