New Delhi: India criticized the US lawmaker on Thursday Ilhan Omar’s visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as a “detainee” and accused her of violating the country’s sovereignty by going to illegally occupied territory in Pakistan.
The Somali-born US congresswoman is on a four-day visit to Pakistan, during which she met Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan. Pakistani media reported that he made public and official contacts on Thursday while visiting the PoK control line to assess the situation on the ground.
Asked about Omar’s trip to PoK during a regular weekly briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi said: “We have noted that American actress Ilhan Omar has visited the Indian Union Territory in the part of Jammu and Kashmir currently illegally occupied by Pakistan.”
He added, “If this politician wishes to practice his narrow-minded policy at home, this may be his prerogative. But the violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty in its pursuit makes it ours. This visit is condemned.”
In 2018, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim woman elected to the United States Congress. Omar’s visit to Pakistan was reportedly organized in his personal capacity as a member of Congress.
Umar visited Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Kurdistan People’s Party, where he said the US Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on reports of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, and also discussed anti-Muslim rhetoric in India.
Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif, during his meeting with Omar on Wednesday, highlighted the “grave human rights situation” in Kashmir and “stressed the importance of a peaceful solution to the human rights issue”. [the] Jammu and Kashmir is fighting to enable the region to realize its economic potential and promote social progress,” according to tweets from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Sharif also said that “a peaceful and stable South Asia can focus on its growth and development,” and called for concerted global efforts to tackle Islamophobia.
Ilhan Omar is the first US lawmaker to travel to Pakistan after the overthrow of Imran Khan’s government. In addition to Sharif, he also met with Foreign Minister Hanna Rabbani Khar and National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Omar’s meeting with former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday sparked controversy as the cricketer-turned-politician accused the United States of being behind an “foreign plot” to overthrow his government. Social media users reminded Khan of his criticism of political leaders who recently met with US officials and asked Interior Minister Rana Sanalla whether his meeting with Omar was a “conspiracy or interference”.
Earlier this month, Omar, a Democrat, asked why the Joe Biden administration was reluctant to criticize the Indian government on the issue of human rights. In the past, Omar accused India of having an “anti-Muslim” policy.
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