‘Squad’ member under fire for ‘violating’ India’s ‘territorial integrity and sovereignty’ during visit

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Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar stirred up international tension and controversy this week by taking a trip with reportedly both her husband and her consultant to a disputed part of India that’s currently “illegally occupied” by Pakistan.

News of the trip triggered outrage from India, whose Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a scathing statement Friday slamming the habitually problematic congresswoman for disrespecting India’s sovereignty.

“She has visited a part of the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir that is currently illegally occupied by Pakistan. Let me just say that if such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that’s her business. But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty in that pursuit makes this ours. And we think the visit is contemptible,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.


Reuters notes that the “Muslim-majority Kashmir region has long been the source of tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan, leading them to fight three wars since winning independence from the British Empire in 1947.”

In addition to visiting the “illegally occupied” territory, Omar also seemingly lobbied on behalf of the Kashmir Pakistanis whom she claimed have been victims of human rights abuses.

“I don’t believe that [this issue] is being talked about to the extent it needs to in Congress but also with the administration,” she told reporters.

But she has yet to lobby against the “Pakistan funded Islamist terrorism” that occurs in the Kashmir region, critics say.

NDTV further notes that the trip to the disputed area occurred during a longer “four-day visit to Pakistan that began on April 20” and included her hobnobbing with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday.

What’s highly unusual about the visit, besides what’s already been outlined, is that the Biden State Department has washed its hands clean of it.

“It’s an unofficial personal visit and it does not represent any policy change on behalf of the United States government,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s counselor, Derek Chollet, reportedly said in a statement to the media.

Abhijit Majumder, a columnist for India’s Firstpost newsgroup, believes for his part that Omar’s trying to hide something — possibly, he suggests, a link to anti-Indian radical Islamists.

“Omar has in the past attacked and sought to delegitimise Indian Kashmiri journalist and victim of Islamist ethnic cleansing Aarti Tikoo Singh, who had testified in the US Congress. Ilhan attacked Aarti echoing the stands of a shadowy group like Stand With Kashmir (SWK). She even gave a long interview to SWK,” Majumder writes.

Yet, according to Martha Lee of the well-respected Middle East Forum, “The SWK works with Islamist organisations such as the US proxy for Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic Circle of North America.”

The organization is, therefore, at the very least, a sympathizer of radical Islamists, if not a radical Islamist organization itself.

Indeed, Lee further notes that “SWK also works to lionise and defend violent Islamists committed to the murder of Indian troops and civilians.”

And yet, Omar is apparently aligned with the group, as well as the alleged illegal occupiers in Kashmir:

Majumder points out that Omar has also “publicly embraced Islamic Relief and HHRD, the sister organisation of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which is the Western branch of the Jamaat-e-Islami.”

“HHRD has sponsored a conference by multiple branches of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan. Omar starred in a fundraising video for the ICNA and is thick with the director of programmes of its sister concern HHRD, Ilyas Choudhry,” he writes.

He concludes his piece by seemingly describing her as a predator.

“India must brace for a global Islamist propaganda onslaught as covering fire for increasing street violence at home. But it must hold its nerve. Islamists can smell the respect for peace and free speech in democracies and interpret it as weakness. They exploit it. Which is when democracies must act tough. Because that is what the people who have voted the government to power expect from it: protection from predators,” he writes.

“Predators” who may or may not have married their own brother, though that’s a different story for a different day …


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