US Congressman Ilhan Omar traveled to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir on Thursday and vowed to urge Washington to pay more attention to the still-disputed region. The visit has drawn criticism from India.
“I think Kashmir will be discussed both in Congress and in the government as needed,” Omar said after visiting the military line of control, or de facto border separating Pakistan-controlled and Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Omar spoke to reporters in Muzaffarabad, the administrative center of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
Omar is a member of the Democratic Party who was also born in Somalia.
He traveled to Islamabad to meet Pakistani leaders before continuing his journey to Kashmir.
“Regarding the Kashmir issue, we are holding a hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee to consider reports of human rights abuses,” Omar said.
India denies allegations of human rights abuses in the part of Kashmir it controls, but tightly controls access to Kashmir for foreign observers, including those from the United Nations.
New Delhi immediately condemned Omar’s visit.
“We find that he visited part of the unified territory of India now illegally occupied by Pakistan,” Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Arindam Bagchi said at a news conference in the Indian capital.
“What I’m saying is that if a politician like him wants to pursue narrow-minded politics in America, that’s his business,” he said. “But the violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty in carrying out his work makes this our business and we think this trip should be condemned.”
India controls two-thirds of Kashmir, located in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region, and Pakistan controls the rest. Both countries claim Kashmir as their sovereign territory. [ps/jm]
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