Rep. Ami Bera faults President Trump’s lack of leadership on Kashmir, CAA

Security personnel patrolling the Lal Chowk area in Srinagar. (The New York Times)

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Four-term U.S. Congressman Ami Bera (D.-Calif.), who has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and is now his surrogate, has assailed the Trump administration’s abrogation of American leadership in foreign policy, and argued this was true even in the case of the situation in Kashmir and the controversy over the Indian government’s imposition of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Participating in a teleconference for AAPI media on Jan. 22 hosted by the group Biden for President, Bera said, “What’s happening in India is really an abdication of American leadership,” and bemoaned that the Trump administration has been wholly silent on what happened in Kashmir, and with the citizenship test.

Bera, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who also recently took over the helm of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific said, “Under a normal administration, America would be using its influence and dialogue and opening those channels of communication.”

When pressed by India Abroad as to how he could argue that the Trump administration has abdicated American leadership vis-à-vis Kashmir and the CAA, when India has made clear that it will brook no outside intervention or interference in its internal affairs, Bera, acknowledging that these issues may very well be the internal affairs of India, pointed out that “I’ve publicly stated that India’s strength is as a secular democracy.”

He stated, “If you look at its founding, it was founded as a secular democracy, where you can have rights of minority religions, where you can have 200 Muslim citizens living next to 800 million Hindu citizens and those who are thriving.”

He agreed that “it’s not up to us to tell other countries what to do, but as strong allies, we certainly can have those conversations.”

Asked to be more specific as to what he would like the Trump administration to do on Kashmir and the CAA, Bera said, “I would hope that the Trump administration, Secretary Pompeo, would work closely with the Indian government to help them move through this and help them normalize the situation in Kashmir.”

“I certainly know in my conversations with the Indians and others, I strongly emphasize what makes India a unique and remarkable country in that region, is that strength of being a secular democracy and you would hate to see India lose what we would consider a strength.”

Asked if he has expressed these thoughts and concerns to senior Indian government officials he has met with, Bera—who met with India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on the sidelines of the U.S.-India 2 plus two talks held last month in Washington, D.C.—said, “Sure. I’ve conveyed my thoughts both publicly and privately and certainly have encouraged them to open up Kashmir –allow the press into Kashmir, allow our diplomats into Kashmir—as quickly as possible and also to restore normalcy.”

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