Ilhan Omar on 'personal' Pakistan visit: US after India's condemnation
The United States on Friday clarified that American lawmaker Ilhan Omar was on an "unofficial, personal" Pakistan visit, which doesn't represent the US administration in any way. The statement came after India on Thursday sharply condemned Omar's visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). "It's an unofficial personal visit...it does not represent any policy change on behalf of the United States government," a top official stated.
- Omar is the first African-born naturalized American citizen to serve in the US Congress from President Joe Biden's party.
- She is currently on a four-day visit to Pakistan, which began earlier this month.
- On Thursday, India condemned Omar's visit to PoK and her remarks there as a violation of India's territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as a reflection of her "narrow-minded" politics.
After her PoK visit, Omar reportedly said, "Kashmir should get more attention from the United States." "I don't believe that it (Kashmir) is being talked about to the extent it needs to in Congress," she added. The American lawmaker's meeting with ousted former Pakistani PM Imran Khan was also criticized since Khan had accused Washington of plotting a conspiracy to dislodge his government.
External Affairs Ministry's spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, on Thursday sharply reacted to Omar's PoK visit and remarks. "Let me just say that if such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that's her business," he said at a press conference in New Delhi. "But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty...makes this ours and we think the visit is condemnable," Bagchi added.
"Congresswoman's [Omar's] visit was a personal visit," stated Derek Chollet, Counselor of the United States Department of State, on Friday "It was not something that the State Department helped to organize so I don't have much to comment on it. Because it was a visit made in her personal capacity," he told reporters when asked about the lawmaker's visit to Islamabad.
Notably, Omar is known to be a stern critic of PM Narendra Modi and had recently questioned the US government's alleged reluctance to criticize the Modi government on human rights issues. "What does Modi need to do to India's Muslim population before we will stop considering them a partner in peace?" Omar, a member of Biden's Democratic Party, had said earlier this month.