Srinagar: The victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the 2020 US Presidential elections has instilled fresh hope among political parties in Jammu and Kashmir vis-a-vis the stand the Democrats have taken on Kashmir following the scrapping of Article 370 last August.
Politicians in the Valley now expect US President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to maintain their stance on Kashmir and be vocal about issues in the region to bring “people of power to accountability”.
Last October, Harris had said: “We have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping a track on the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands.”
Further, in a policy paper posted on Biden’s campaign website in June this year, titled ‘Joe Biden’s agenda for Muslim American community’, the President-elect had asked the Indian government to take “all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir”.
The paper also stated: “Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet, weakens democracy.”
Following the US election results, former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah did not mince their words while commenting on the victory of Biden and Harris Saturday.
“Their win gives hope to the rest of the world that Right-wing extremism and those who sow division and hatred will sooner or later be relegated to the pages of history like Donald Trump,” Mufti wrote.
Congratulations to President-elect @JoeBiden & Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris. Their win gives hope to rest of the world that right wing extremism & those who sow division & hatred will sooner or later be relegated to the pages of history like Donald Trump.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 7, 2020
Abdullah took a jibe by bringing up the Bihar exit poll results, which projected a win for the opposition alliance.
“To lose Bihar and the White House within days of each other would make for a pretty bad few days,” he wrote.
To lose Bihar & the White House within days of each other would make for a pretty bad few days.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 7, 2020
‘Politics of polarisation is over’
On Sunday, political parties, including the National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party and People’s Conference, welcomed the election results.
“We hope politics of polarisation is over. Across the world, there are regimes, which are fascists in nature. They drew strength when Trump was in the office. We hope fascist forces will weaken and democracy becomes stronger and emboldened across the world,” NC leader Imran Dar told ThePrint.
“Biden and Kamala Harris have already spoken their mind when our leadership was illegally detained. Both raised their voice for Kashmiris and Kashmiri leadership. They spoke about human rights violation and communication blockade. We are expecting they still hold that line and call out the wrongs that are being done whether in Kashmir or any other part of India. I am sure they will hold that line and bring people of power to accountability,” added Dar.
‘Clear defeat of Right-wing extremism’
Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference hoped that Biden and Harris would take a “principled stance” on Kashmir and won’t “tolerate what the Trump administration tolerated on Kashmir”.
“Both have spoken about Kashmir in the past and we are hoping they take a principled stance on Kashmir along with human rights issues in India in future as well,” said party spokesperson Adnan Ashraf.
“Whether in the current scenario where they (US) are pushing hard for India to be a pivot in India-Pakistan strategy to balance China, we don’t know (if) the criticism by Kamala Harris against the Modi government on Kashmir will translate into any change on the ground. But the Democrats will surely not tolerate what the Trump administration tolerated on Kashmir. They would raise their concerns given their record and previous utterances. We are hopeful that Democrats, especially Biden and Harris, will be vocal about human rights issues and rights of representation of people of Kashmir,” Ashraf added.
PDP’s Waheed Para described the Democrats’ victory as the “victory of democracy, liberalism and secularism”.
“In a lot of ways, it offers a lot of hope to everyone. It is a clear defeat of Right-wing extremism. When Trump was in Delhi during the riots, he didn’t utter a word. Democrats have a different understanding,” said Para.