Ilhan Omar on ‘personal’ visit to Pakistan, doesn’t portray US policy: Biden
Washington [US]April 22 (ANI): US lawmaker Ilhan Omar’s meeting with recently ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and her “unofficial and personal” visit to Pakistani-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in no way represented the US government, an official said Thursday.
India on Thursday condemned Omar’s visit to PoK as a violation of India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and reflected its “narrow-minded” policy.
The Democratic MP is on a four-day visit to Pakistan which began on April 20. On Wednesday, she met Imran Khan and visited part of PoK.
Speaking to ANI, Derek Chollet, adviser to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said, “This is an unofficial personal visit and does not represent any change in policy on the part of the US government.”
Omar, a Somali American who belongs to President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, had said after her visit to PoK that Kashmir should attract more US attention, which drew harsh condemnation from India.
“I don’t think it (Kashmir) is talked about as much as it needs to be in Congress but also with the administration,” Omar told reporters after his visit to PoK. Condemning her visit to the PoK, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi at a press briefing: “Let me just say that if such a female politician wants to practice her narrow politics of spirit at home is her business”.
“But violating our territorial integrity and our sovereignty…makes it ours and we think the visit is wrong,” Bagchi said.
The visit to Islamabad by Omar, who represents Minnesota in the US House of Representatives, is the first by a US lawmaker since the new Pakistani government came to power. His meeting with Imran Khan at his residence in Bani Gala has been criticized since the ousted Pakistani prime minister accused Washington of plotting to unseat his government.
Asked what the United States thinks of the Omar-Khan meeting, in particular, Chollet said, “The congresswoman’s visit was a personal visit. It’s not something the State Department helped organize, so I don’t have much to comment on that. Because it was a personal visit.”
Omar is the first naturalized citizen of African descent to serve in the US Congress. She strongly criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi and previously questioned Biden administration officials over what she called a “failure” to criticize the Indian government on the issue of human rights and its actions against its Muslim minorities in India.
In a recent hearing where Omar questioned Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Omar raised concerns about the United States’ history of closing in on undemocratic leaders as a strategy to show strength in numbers against an adversary.
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