President-elect Joe Biden has appointed Sameera Fazili of Kashmiri origin as the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Formerly, Sameera Fazili has served as the Director of Engagement for Community and Economic Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
The matter of concern, however, is that Fazili appears to be a member of Stand With Kashmir, an Islamist organization that is a proponent of Kashmiri Separatism. In August 2019, following the abrogation of Article 370, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) introduced her as a member of SWK.
She said in a statement, “We urge people of conscience to come out and show support and solidarity for the people of Kashmir as authoritarianism and Islamophobia rise around the world, from India to the United States to Europe. Come show your support for human rights, international law, and democracy.”
Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a “Kashmiri diaspora-driven independent global citizen grassroots group committed to standing in solidarity with the people of Kashmir in ending the occupation and supporting their right to self-determination.”
The organization believes “any proposed resolutions must foreground Kashmiri aspirations. We condemn the use of Islamophobia to undermine Kashmiri aspirations for freedom.” It also calls the presence of the Indian military in Kashmir an ‘occupation’. There are indications as well that the organization may have Pakistani backing.
SWK recently tweeted about the death of Riyaz Naikoo in an encounter and did not bother to mention that he was, in fact, a senior commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. SWK also calls Asiya Andrabi a ‘sociopolitical activist’ despite her known links to terrorists. In fact, they have a long history of supporting terrorists, including Yasin Malik who is linked with the LeT, an Islamic terrorist outfit banned under US law as well.
Another appointment that might raise a few eyebrows for those in India, and is a matter of far more concern, is Biden’s pick for CIA Director. William J Burns, the president of the Carnegie Endowment, has been picked to head the CIA. His views on Narendra Modi and Kashmir are worth taking into consideration.
As recently as February 2020, Burns wrote in an article for The Atlantic, “After a resounding reelection last spring, Modi has struggled with India’s most severe economic slowdown in three decades. Lacking a compelling strategy for the economy, he has doubled down on the one set of issues for which the BJP has a very clear and unified vision: Hindu majoritarianism. With coercive force and scant regard for constitutional limits, Modi’s government has put its Hindu chauvinism on full display.”
He continued, “His government has pushed a new citizenship law that discriminates against Muslims seeking refuge in India, and has fed tensions over disputed religious sites. Pressures against critical journalists and academics have increased. The BJP has run into political difficulties in state and local elections, but its national opposition, the Congress Party, is a shell of its former self, and the courts and civil society are on the defensive.”
Burns went so far as to say that a “battle for the idea of India is under way” between the “tolerant constitutional convictions of its founders and the harsher Hindu majoritarianism that has lurked beneath the surface.” Earlier in November 2019, he had said that India must ‘pay attention’ to concerns in Washington regarding Jammu & Kashmir.