Ami Bera slams Trump’s India policy

Ami BeraShanker Chakravarty

Ami BeraShanker Chakravarty  

As election season gets under way in the U.S., Democratic Congressman Ami Bera called the Trump policy towards developments in India such as Kashmir and the “citizenship test” an “abdication of American leadership”. He made the remarks during a call with reporters as part of outreach to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community for former Vice-President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign for the presidency.

As the new head of the important U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, Mr. Bera’s comments have significance for U.S.–India relations. The Subcommittee, under its former chairman Brad Sherman, held a hearing on Kashmir following Parliament’s abrogation of Article 370 last year.

“The Trump administration has been wholly silent on some of what’s happened in Kashmir as well as some of what’s happening with the citizenship test. Under a normal administration, America would be using its influence and dialogue in opening those channels of communication,” Mr. Bera said, reiterating that India’s strength is its secular democracy.

“I would argue that India should not lose that secular democracy because that is what separates it from other states and other countries. You don’t hear Donald Trump out there talking about it or even Secretary Pompeo. I think it’s not up to us to tell other countries what to do but with strong allies, we certainly can have those conversations and that dialogue,” he said.

The Congressman also confirmed that he had conveyed his concerns — particularly on Kashmir being opened up to the press and diplomats — to the Indian government privately, in addition to using public channels.

He also said that there was bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for a strong U.S.- India relationship. “Vice-President Biden, President Obama talked about... the U.S.- India relationship potentially being the defining relationship in the 21st Century.”

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