WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders has termed India's action in Kashmir as "unacceptable" to his cheering Muslim audience in Houston, Texas. But according to veteran U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Sellin, Sanders' statement was likely influenced by his Pakistani American campaign manager and Muslim activist, Faiz Shakir.
Sanders told a gathering of Muslims that he was "deeply concerned" about the situation in Kashmir and asked the U.S. government to "speak out boldly in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution to resolve the issue.
Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Houston on Saturday, the 77-year-old senator also sought an immediate end to the communications blockade in Kashmir.
"I am deeply concerned about the situation in Kashmir," Sanders said while addressing one of the largest Muslim gatherings in the country.
He also tweeted: "India's action [in Kashmir] is unacceptable and the communications blockade must be lifted immediately, and the US government must be speak out boldly in support of international humanitarian live and in support of a UN backed peaceful resolution" @BernieSanders #isnacona”
Sellin, a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq war, tweeted that Sanders is totally ignorant about Kashmir and his statement was due to the prodding of Shakir.
"Bernie Sanders couldn't find Kashmir on a map if it was colored with a bright blue Crayon. That statement was likely influenced by his Pakistani campaign manager & Muslim activist, Faiz Shakir, who may be aggressively promoting pro-Pakistani positions," he posted.
A day ago, reacting to Imran Khan's opinion piece in the New York Times, where he had threatened the world with the specter of a nuclear war over Kashmir, Sellin had tweeted: "Lunatics as leaders with tens of thousands of home-grown terrorists & nuclear weapons. Precisely the reason Pakistan needs to be de-nuclearized & broken up into less dangerous pieces.
Imran Khan threatens nuclear war with "consequences for the whole world.”
The Vermont senator had said the "crackdown in the name of ‘security' (in Kashmir) is also denying the Kashmiri people access to medical care.”
He also condemned the increasing hate crimes against the Muslim community in the U.S., calling it "domestic terrorism.”
"We must speak out when we have a president and an administration who believes that Islam hates us," he said.
Last week, Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar also urged Indian authorities to respect human rights and to de-escalate the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Her reaction came hours after President Donald Trump, who earlier offered to mediate between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, said that the two countries "can handle the issue on their own, but I am here.”
Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan ever since New Delhi on Aug. 5 revoked Article 370 of its Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.