The Biden administration distanced itself from US congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as well as her visit to Pakistan to meet ousted former prime minister Imran Khan earlier this week.
Derek Chollet, Blinken’s top advisor, said that the visit was unofficial. “It’s an unofficial personal visit and it does not represent any policy change on behalf of the US govt,” the counsellor to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
India was harsh in condemning the Democrat lawmaker after reports of her visit became public.
“We have noted that US Representative Ilhan Omar has visited a part of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir that is currently illegally occupied by Pakistan. If such a politician wishes to practice such narrow-minded politics at home, that’s her business, but violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty in its pursuit makes this ours,” the Union ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.
He said her actions were ‘condemnable’.
Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives earlier also has taken an anti-India stance by questioning the abrogation of Article 370 while also questioning the Biden administration over its so-called ‘silence’ over what she perceives as ill-treatment of the Indian government toward its Muslim citizens.
She also met Hina Rabbani Khar, the junior minister of Pakistan ministry of foreign affairs, president Arif Alvi at his office and other ministers including prime minister Shehbaz Sharif. She said that she appreciates the role played by Pakistan in tackling ‘Islamophobia’.
However, her visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) angered India. Ilhan Omar earlier also has criticised the PM Modi-led government accusing it of being anti-Muslim. She also questioned Wendy Sherman, US state department deputy, over India’s alleged mistreatment of minorities earlier in April.
“Why has the Biden Administration been so reluctant to criticise Modi’s government on human rights? What does Modi need to do to India’s Muslim population before we will stop considering them a partner in peace? These are the questions the Administration needs to answer,” Omar questioned Sherman while also tweeting the same after questioning Sherman before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I do hope we make a practice of standing up not just to our adversaries, but to our allies as well,” Omar said.
Omar on several occasions has taken an anti-India stance on issues related to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir but her visit to the PoK irked India. India was clear that she is allowed to follow her political beliefs where she belongs but visiting PoK concerns India and also questions if the US respects India’s sovereignty.
(with inputs from ANI and PTI)