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Release Kashmir politicians held without charge: US

Senior American diplomat Alice Wells has termed developments regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act a “vigorous democratic scrutiny”.

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Last Updated: Jan 26, 2020, 08.29 AM IST
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Alice Wells.
Alice Wells, senior US diplomat for South Asia region
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(This story originally appeared in on Jan 26, 2020)
A senior US diplomat has termed developments regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act a “vigorous democratic scrutiny”, while emphasising the importance of the principle of equal protection under law.

“(My) visit also offered an opportunity to hear more regarding developments with India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which is undergoing I would say a vigorous democratic scrutiny, whether it’s in the streets, by the political opposition, media, and the courts,” said Alice Wells, senior US diplomat for South Asia region, who was recently in India.

“We continue to underscore the importance of the principle of equal protection under the law,” Wells added.

She reiterated US’s demand for expeditious release of politicians in J&K who are in detention without having been charged with an offence as well as regular access to the region for its diplomats.

Briefing journalists in Washington DC, Alice Wells said the US would continue to press for swift release of political detenues in J&K. Wells described the Indian government recently taking US ambassador Ken Juster and other foreign envoys to J&K as a “useful step”, but said American diplomats should be given regular access to the region.

Wells also emphasised what she termed near-total strategic convergence on Indo-Pacific policies between India and the US, observing that New Delhi’s foreign policy approach has shifted to a more vigorous espousal of Indian interests.

“India’s broadening strategic horizons over the past two decades have resulted in a shift away from a passive foreign policy into one that more vigorously advances Indian interests. Nowhere is that more true than in the Indo-Pacific region. Whether it’s in our growing maritime and naval cooperation, the Quad, India’s Act East Policy, there’s virtually no daylight in our approaches to the Indo-Pacific,” she said.

Wells said USTR officials were travelling to Delhi to complete a trade deal with India, saying “we remain focused on achieving a trade deal that promotes fair and reciprocal trade”.

She expressed satisfaction with the steps taken by Pakistan to avert the prospect of being put on the “black list” of the Financial Action Task Force for its reluctance to act against terror groups, but reminded the Imran Khan government of the consequences of not taking more steps .“We’ve been pleased to see progress by Pakistan towards fulfilling FATF obligations,” said Wells, adding that Islamabad’s failure to meet the obligations would have devastating impact on its economic reform programme.

“But the more evidence of Pakistan’s seriousness in both documenting its economy and in shrinking the space for militants to be able to take advantage of Pakistan’s banking system or territory, the more confidence that the international community and business community will have in working with Pakistan,” she said. “It’s a question of fulfilling the requirements that have been spelt out and that are asked of all countries in the international system. So it’s not a political process, but we certainly support and stand ready to assist Pakistan as it implements these obligations,” she added.
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