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Joe Biden’s Presidency: What it means for Kashmir?

New US Kashmir policy will be different from Trump’s administration

There is no doubt that US President Elect Joe Biden’s policy towards Kashmir will be different from Donald Trump. The Democratic Party members have repeatedly criticised Indian government’s involvement in Jammu and Kashmir- and other troubled states within India ,During the presidential election campaign President-elect Joe Biden himself was reported as saying “in Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people. Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet, weakens democracy’’.

US President Elect Joe Biden

Voter preference vs foreign policy issues

Although, Biden, mentioned Kashmir into his campaign in a religious context rather than as a foreign policy or a general human rights issue; this shows a much stronger policy approach towards India than his predecessor.

He has also taken a strong position while condemning the issues of human rights in Assam. He has made it well known that his party was disappointed by the measures that the government of India had taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) into law. “These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy.”

Democrats openly express solidarity with Kashmiris

Not only the Vice President Elect Kamala Harris has strong views on Kashmir but many other US Democratic Party Congressmen and women have openly raised their voice on human rights issues in Kashmir and have expressed solidarity with people of Kashmir.

In 2019, the US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated in a tweet that ”we stand for the basic human dignity of Kashmiris and support democracy, equality and human rights for all including the most vulnerable. She further said that reports of violence and torture are extremely concerning and the blockade from communication and life-saving medical care must end. claimed that medical aid was blocked in Kashmir.

Vice President elect Harris had said in a statement last year when she was seeking the presidential nomination from the Democratic Party. “We have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping a track on the situation,” the statement said.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

Diplomacy – the tool of first resort for US Democratic Party

When it comes to war, peace, and international relations, the Democratic Party significantly differs from Republicans. Interestingly, the 2020 Democratic Platform strongly advocates the diplomacy as the “tool of first resort” in foreign policy which is a slight diversion from the 2016 Platform. In previous case, the priority for the party was to leading with defense and referred to ”diplomacy as one tool of many”. The 2020 Platform contains 39 references to diplomats and diplomacy, compared to just six in the 2016 Platform. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) defines mediation as “a mode of negotiation in which a mutually acceptable third party helps the parties to a conflict find a solution that they cannot find by themselves.” 

Biden-Harris Government can play more of a mediatory role in Kashmir

Mediation is sometimes referred to as assisted negotiation. A Biden-Harris presidency can play more of a mediatory role in helping resume talks between India and Pakistan than openly addressing the Kashmir issue with direct involvement in it. The US government can help the people of Kashmir to get their right to self-determination, the democratic party activists have said this in past at various occasions.

Vice President Elect Harris is expected to be the peacemaker and play a more neutral role as a negotiator between two nuclear-armed nations to bring stability in the South Asia region. Democrats have always voiced their concern when it comes to the abuse of civil rights and human rights.

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