Congressman Frank Pallone recently hosted a hearing on Capitol Hill to apprise Congressional aides about the lot of Kashmiri Pandits. Despite his unstinting support for
India on Capitol Hill, the New Jersey Democrat and founder and former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans has never shied away from faulting
New Delhi for its apathy towards Pandits who fled the Kashmir valley following terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pallone along with Congressman Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat pushed the State Department to include the plight of Pandits in its annual human rights report. During the
Capitol briefing, Pallone questioned the state government and New Delhi’s claims that the Pandits would be protected and resources allocated for their resettlement and rehabilitation. ‘Certainly this has not been the case and the authorities have failed to protect the Pandits,’ he said. He urged Congress to ‘continue to urge President George W Bush to put more pressure on President Pervez Musharraf to stop militant infiltration into Kashmir and to end Pakistan’s moral and military support of the fundamentalists responsible for the mass murder of the Pandits.’
The leading Pandit lobbyists in the US Dr Vijay Sazawal, National President, Indo-American Kashmir Forum, and Jeevan Zutshi, one of its founding members, apprised Congressional aides with their perspectives of the political and economic climate in the valley.