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Watch video: US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar visits Pakistan-occupied Kashmir; Washington disavows while New Delhi condemns

"Let me just say that if such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that's her business. But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty... makes this ours, and we think the visit is condemn-able," MEA spokesperson said

FPJ Web Desk | Updated on: Friday, April 22, 2022, 12:32 PM IST

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called on Imran Khan, Chairman of the PTI in Bani Gala, on Thursday | Twitter/@ShireenMazari1
US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called on Imran Khan, Chairman of the PTI in Bani Gala, on Thursday | Twitter/@ShireenMazari1
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US lawmaker Ilhan Omar's meeting with recently ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and her "unofficial, personal" visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or PoK did not represent the United States government in any way, an official said.

India had on Thursday condemned Ms Omar's visit to Pak-occupied Kashmir as violative of India's territorial integrity and sovereignty and that it reflected her "narrow-minded" politics.

The Democratic Congresswoman is on a four-day visit to Pakistan that began on April 20. On Wednesday, she met Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as visited a part of PoK.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Derek Chollet, counselor to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said "It's an unofficial personal visit and it does not represent any policy change on behalf of the United States government."

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Friday said that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is currently on her maiden visit to Pakistan, was not visiting the country on US government-sponsored travel.

The senior official made the statement during a press briefing today in response to a question from a journalist.

"As you are well aware that Imran Khan is still blaming US for his ouster from PM’s office while he’s also asking his supporters to keep protesting outside the White House. But yesterday Congresswoman Ilhan Omar met with Mr. Khan in Islamabad. It was kind of an hour-long meeting. Close associates of Mr. Khan claim that United States trying to clear the air with Mr. Khan. Is it true that Ilhan Omar is representing Biden government there in Islamabad," the journalist had asked.

"Well, as I understand it, Representative Omar is not visiting Pakistan on US government-sponsored travel, so I’d need to refer you to her office for questions on her travel," Price replied.

Omar, a Somali-American who belongs to President Joe Biden's Democratic Party, had after her visit to PoK said "Kashmir should get more attention from the United States", which elicited stern condemnation from India.

"I don't believe that it (Kashmir) is being talked about to the extent it needs to in Congress but also with the administration," Ms Omar told reporters after visiting PoK.

Condemning her visit to PoK, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi reporters in New Delhi at a media briefing, "Let me just say that if such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that's her business. But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty... makes this ours, and we think the visit is condemnable," Mr Bagchi said.

Omar on Thursday acknowledged that Kash­mir dispute was not being talked about in the power centres of the United States of America at the required level, but expressed the hope that the situation would change.

At an interaction with local media at the President House, Rep. Omar said, “On the question of Kashmir, we held a committee hearing on the foreign affairs committee to look at the reports of human rights violations and to talk about the bigger issue with the [Narendra] Modi administration’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and how that’s leading to human rights violations as well.”

On the occasion, Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) President Barrister Sultan Mahmood was present.

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Published on: Friday, April 22, 2022, 12:32 PM IST