MEA had reacted sharply to Ilham Omar’s visit to PoK

The Foreign Office here has not reacted so far to US ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome’s visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) this week, with the US embassy in Islamabad highlighting it with a series of tweets over the three days that he was in the disputed region.

In April, the Ministry of External Affairs had not taken kindly the PoK visit of US Congresswoman Ilham Omar, describing her as a practioner of “narrow-minded politics’’. This was the first official US delegation to PoK in three years.

However, the difference is that Omar directly touched on the human rights issue in J&K as well as on the touchy issue of Article 370. But the US envoy’s visit was avowedly aimed at restoring Pakistani heritages and cultural sites as well as highlighting the American aid for the 2005 earthquake victims and to the recent floods in Pakistan.

But this is the second visit by a US official to PoK. Also, Blome throughout mentioned PoK as AJK (Azad Jammu and Kashmir) which is anathema to New Delhi as it holds that the region was forcibly occupied by Pakistan in 1947.

Analysts say the US Ambassador may also be showing up China which had taunted Washington last week by stating that “instead of passing unwarranted criticism against China-Pakistan cooperation, the US side might as well do something real and beneficial for the people of Pakistan.’’

However, the envoy’s visit to PoK adds to the series of attempts by the US-UK combine to mend fences with Pakistan which had been kept at an arm’s distance by the Trump Administration on grounds that it was not sincere in combating terrorism.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has been sceptical of the American overtures by stating that “the relationship between the US and Islamabad will neither serve the interests of America nor of Pakistan.