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Congressional Research Service (CRS) releases report on Kashmir

By Nasreen Jehan

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New Delhi, India: Washington-based US Congress’s think tank – Congressional Research Service (CRS) – has released a report titled “Kashmir: Background, Recent Developments, and US Policy”.

The report provides background on the Kashmir issue, reviews several key developments in 2019, and closes with a summary of US policy and possible questions for the Congress.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) releases report on Kashmir in wake of Indian venture
Congressional Research Service (CRS) releases report on Kashmir in wake of Indian venture

Summarizing the recent development in Jammu Kashmir (Read as Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir), the report states that India’s action of abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution sparked international outrage as unilateral changes of J&K’s status could harm regional stability. US and international forums expressed concerns about further escalation between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed powers Pakistan and India, which nearly came to war after a February 2019 Kashmir crisis.

Click Here to Read/Download Full Report of Congressional Research Service on Kashmir

The report states that New Delhi’s process also raised serious constitutional questions and – given heavy-handed security measures in J&K –elicited more intense criticisms of India on human rights grounds.

The report further states that the United Nations and independent watchdog groups reported excessive use of force and other abuses in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Report indicates that India’s secular traditions are suffering as India’s Hindu nationalist government appears to pursue Hindu majoritarian policies at some cost to the Country’s religious minorities.

It also states that as per the US’s long-standing position on Kashmir emphasizing the peaceful settlement of the issue through negotiations between Pakistan and India, the Trump administration has called for peace and respect for human rights in the region but its criticisms have been relatively muted.

It says that with key US diplomatic posts vacant, some observers worry that the US government capacity to address the South Asian instability is thin, and the US President Donald Trump’s July offer to “mediate” on Kashmir may have contributed to the timing of New Delhi’s moves. It further adds that the United States seeks to balance pursuit of a broad US-India partnership while upholding human rights protections, as well as maintaining cooperative relations with Pakistan.

In the end, the report also mentions following possible questions for the US Congress raised by the developments in Kashmir in 2019;

  • Have India’s actions changing the status of its J&K state negatively affect regional stability? If so, what leverage does the United States have and what U.S. policies might best address potential instability?
  • Is there any diplomatic or other role for the US government to play in managing India- Pakistan conflict or facilitating a renewal of their bilateral dialogue?
  • To what extent does increased instability in Kashmir influence dynamics in Afghanistan? Will Islamabad’s cooperation with Washington on Afghan reconciliation be reduced?
  • To what extent, if any, are India’s democratic/constitutional norms and pluralist traditions at risk in the country’s current political climate? Are human rights abuses and threats to religious freedom increasing there? If so, should the US government take any further actions to address such concerns?
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