Indian-Americans chip in to balance Kashmir hearing

Indian-Americans chip in to balance Kashmir hearing

Kashmir, Kashmir -IOK Comments Off 7
Print Friendly

New Delhi: The presence of 25 IndianAmericans at the US House of
Representative hearing on Kashmir on Thursday helped improve the atmospherics
from that during the October 22 session which was chaired by Congressman Brad
Sherman. India, thorough its embassy in Washington, worked through various channels to blunt Pakistan’s effort to create an overbearing narrative on Kashmir at the hearing, which was organised by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
Surprisingly, of the 84 members of the commission, only four, apart from the co-chairs,
were present during the hearing. These four members were from the Left-liberal faction of
the Democratic party. Only one nonmember attended the briefing.
Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat) was among the four who attended. She is the founder and
chair of the Pakistan Caucus in the US Congress.
McGovern, the co-chair Congressman, allowed each witness adequate and equal time to
speak and respond, ET has learnt.
John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, in his testimony noted that Pakistan funds the terror
groups which are inciting violence in J& K. Co-chair Chris Smith (Republican) supported
the position taken by Ambassador Alice Wells at the October 22 hearing that Kashmir is
bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.
Writer Sunanda Vashisht, who is a Kashmiri Pandit, was accepted as a witness at the
hearing. Her personal account made an impact on the hearing as she focussed on crossborder Islamic terrorism. Vashisht also called out the bluff of Arjun Sethi (human rights
lawyer) by stating that he had forgotten to mention the violence perpetrated against the
Sikhs by Pakistan-based terror groups in Kashmir.
The four US lawmakers expressed concern once again with “continued restrictions and
detentions in J&K”.
“I am deeply concerned by the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir, to detain people
without charge, severely limit communications and block third parties from visiting,” said
Democrat lawmaker Pramila Jayapal.
The lack of interest by Congressmen in the hearing was apparent, as out of 84 members
of the Commission, only four, apart from the Co-chairs, attended the hearing.
Despite the short notice of only 2 days and a panel of witnesses largely anti-India critics,
the Embassy, through concerted efforts coordinated between Consulates, Indian-American
community and civil society organizations ensured that the hearing was significantly
balanced, ET has learnt.
Vashisht identifies as a victim of ethnic cleansing was accepted as a witness at the hearing
following intense outreach from Indian-American community in the constituencies of the
co-Chairs of the Commission – Congressman Jim McGovern and Congressman Chris
Smith.
Vashisht’s personal story as a Kashmiri-Hindu made a powerful impact on the hearing and
she also ensured that the discussions retained a focus on the issue of cross-border radical
Islamic terrorism which affects Jammu & Kashmir. She also made her voice heard in the
proceedings and intervened every time a false fact was propagated by other witnesses.

(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)

Author

Back to Top