Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, who recently joined the Pakistan Caucus in the U.S. Congress, said he had no intention of leaving it despite a demand made by a group of organizations representing some Hindus and Indian-Americans.
This Sept. 15, a number of organizations from around the country, a majority of them representing Hindus, as well as some individuals, wrote to Rep. Khanna, “to express our serious concern with your recent actions and statements on issues relating to the Indian Subcontinent and the diaspora.”
Khanna is a member of the Congressional Caucus of India and Indian-Americans, considered the largest country caucus on Capitol Hill. He is also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The letter to Khanna criticized Khanna for joining the Pakistan Caucus saying, “We believe that your membership in this (Pakistan) Caucus is contrary to both American principles and our geostrategic interests in the Indian Subcontinent and the broader South Asian region,”
“I have no plans to remove myself from the Pakistan Caucus,” Congressman Khanna told News India Times’ in an email response.
“I am also a proud member of the India Caucus, and have been supportive in Congress of strengthening the US-India relationship, including our defense ties,” Khanna asserted, adding, “I will continue to work toward peace on the subcontinent, which requires a willingness to hear a diversity of voices on the issues at hand.”
The letter also urged Khanna to write directly to Prime Minister Imran Khan and meet with Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Asad Majeed Khan, “to address Pakistan’s ongoing use of terrorism to destabilize the region and its rampant and severe human rights violations.”
Khanna in his statement to News India Times said, he had met Pakistan’s Prime Minister in July 2019, when Khan came to the U.S.
“We spoke Hindustani and I shared with him that my grandfather, an Indian freedom fighter in Gandhi’s independence movement, always had a hope for reconciliation between India and Pakistan.”
Khan went on to clarify, “However, I do not support PM Khan’s recent heated rhetoric regarding the Kashmir issue, and I would caution him to not escalate that language to war.”
The other two demands were not addressed by Khanna in the response sent to News India Times. The letter had further demanded that the Indian-American Congressman issue a positive statement for the Congressional Register, on how the revocation of Article 370 affords more rights to Kashmiris. The letter also demanded Khanna, “must highlight the ethnic cleansing of over 350,000 Kashmiri Hindu Pandits from their ancestral home in the Kashmir Valley nearly three decades ago.”
Apart from the Hindu American Foundation, some of the others listed as signatories to the letter included American Hindus Against Defamation based in Natick, Mass.; Annapoorna USA Foundation of Sacramento, California; Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council Bay Area, Vaishnav Parivar of Milpitas, CA; Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of Houston, TX; Federation of Indian Communities of Southern California, Irvine, CA; Gayatri Consciousness Center, Anaheim, CA; Global Hindu Heritage Foundation of Frisco, TX; Indo-American Kashmir Forum of Washington, D.C.; Interfaith Shaadi of San Francisco, CA; International Gita Society, Fremont, CA; Sanatan Dharma Temple & Cultural Center, Kent, Washington; Seniors Association of Bucks, PA; Uttar Pradesh Mandal of America, Fremont, CA; Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-NCAL; South Asian American Voices for Impact, Canton, Michigan; Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America based in New Jersey; and the World Hindu Council of America, Atlanta, Georgia.