No change in US policy on Jammu & Kashmir!

The United States on Wednesday said that there is no change in its policy on Jammu and Kashmir. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in view of a tweet from the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department which welcomed the resumption of 4G mobile internet in Jammu and Kashmir, made it clear that there was no change in US policy on Jammu & Kashmir.  Last week, the newly elected president of the United States (US), Joe Biden, delivered his first foreign policy speech, with the aim of resetting America’s foreign policy agenda after four years of Donald Trump’s disruption. Biden’s choice of the State Department as the venue for his address was a show of support to the foreign service bureaucracy, and a signal to the world that standard diplomatic engagement and multilateralism would be the preferred mode of operation. Biden has been quick to reverse Trump’s decisions on walking out of the 2015 Paris Accord, on mitigating climate change, and on the World Health Organisation. But he is making no promises to re-engage with trans-Atlantic trade negotiations or rejoin the Pacific free trade agreement.
Other major announcements from Biden included ending all support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen, urging Myanmar’s military leaders to halt their coup, freezing troop redeployments from Germany, raising the cap for refugees allowed into the US from 15,000 for this fiscal year — the lowest since 1980 — to up to 125,000, and reaffirming US support for LGBTQ rights worldwide. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin is to conduct a “global force posture review” so as to ensure America’s “military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities”.
Contrary to widespread Indian pessimism on Delhi’s prospects with Washington under Biden, there is considerable space for productive cooperation. As the China challenge for Indo-Pacific security continues to grow, the imperatives for Delhi for deeper defence cooperation and regional strategic coordination with Washington have become stronger. There is also room for creative joint initiatives on reforming the global trading system and advancing the global effort against climate change. On the other side of the ledger, India will have to actively manage the likely negative impact of US-Russia tensions on Delhi’s bilateral ties with both Washington and Moscow. Delhi will also need to address the growing concerns in Washington about the NDA’s government’s illiberal turn and its democratic trajectory. Although these concerns might look marginal at the moment, they have the capacity to push, slowly but surely, the terms of American political discourse on India in a negative direction.
According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report of August 2019, a longstanding goal of US policy in South Asia has been to prevent India-Pakistan conflict from escalating to interstate war. This meant the United States has sought to avoid actions that overtly favoured either party. Over the past decade, however, Washington has grown closer to India while relations with Pakistan continue to be viewed as clouded by mistrust, CRS report said.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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