Senior United States lawmaker George Holding on Thursday launched the most robust defense seen yet in the US Congress of the Modi government’s decision to change Jammu and Kashmir’s status. Holding said the previous arrangement was “outdated” and exploited by local politicians and Pakistan-based terrorists.
Holding, who is a long-time Republican co-chair of the House India Caucus, also argued that the pre-August 5 dispensation benefitted those with “political connections” locally and created a “polarizing environment” that was exploited externally by Pakistan-based groups to conduct cross-border terrorism “that wreaked havoc on individuals and families” in India.
“The Modi government had to make a decision on whether to continue with the old policy or to pursue progress by changing the region’s legal status,” Holding said in a speech in the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Holding went on to say that the steps taken were needed and good for the long-term stability of the region, and that they should be applauded.
Holding’s spirited defence follows severe criticism of political leaders’ detentions and internet blockade in Kashmir at a recent congressional hearing by a sub-committee of the Democratic-controlled House foreign affairs committee.
The hearing was held by Brad Sherman, the first-time Democratic co-chair of the House India Caucus and also attended by Indian-origin Pramila Jayapal, who too hit out at the Modi government.
Holding echoed Indian concerns about terrorism in Kashmir in the new context. “Pakistan-based terror groups have recently floated posters warning common citizens against venturing out, going to work and visiting public places,” he said, adding, “The groups have continued to engage in cross-border terrorism and have attacked civilians and children.”
Confirming for the first time an official involvement of the United Arab Emirates in the I…