Raja Farooq Haider met several US opinion makers including experts in top American think tanks during his stay

NEW DELHI: The leader in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Raja Farooq Haider, visited the US at the behest of the Imran Khan government following abrogation of Article 370, but failed “miserably” to impress policymakers there with his allegation of “human rights violation” in Jammu & Kashmir.

Haider met several US opinion makers including experts in top American think tanks during his stay. During a talk at the Widrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC on August 26, when senior South Asia expert Michael Kugelman sought Haider’s opinion on both parts of Jammu & Kashmir — J&K & PoK — he surprised the audience by saying that the UN fact finding mission on human rights should be allowed in PoK and not just J&K, ET has reliably learnt. Then, to a question from Tara Kartha of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the PoK “prime minister” blamed the late ZA Bhutto for imposing constitution on the region which he said curtailed its autonomy. He said the PoK administration wanted restoration of the rights originally enjoyed by the region.

“This was a clear case of doublespeak by Raja Farooq Haider,” said an expert familiar with Pakistan’s politics. “He was trying to appease international audience by creating a villain out of Islamabad while on the other hand he depends on Pakistan’s federal government.”

Haider runs a family fiefdom in PoK as his mother and sister are also members of the local assembly and he admitted this during his visit to the US, people in the know of his meetings said. Five seats are reserved for women in the PoK assembly and two of those are occupied by members of his family.

During his visit, Haider also made a case for supporting “armed freedom struggle” in Jammu & Kashmir, which is akin to openly supporting cross-border terror, according to one of the people.

The Imran Khan government is employing all possible resources to build its narrative after failing to get international support on the Kashmir issue.

Belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League, Haider was appointed as the “prime minister” of PoK in 2016. Last year, during a local flight, his chopper violated the Line of Control and entered the Indian territory. After the Modi government decided to abrogate Article 370 Haider demanded that the Line of Control be renamed the “ceasefire line”.