India flags US envoy's visit to POK
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 12 Oct , 2023

“Respect our sovereignty”, as New Delhi recapitulated and reiterated these words post the US Ambassador Blome’s visit to Gilgit-Baltistan in POK recently. This was the second visit of Blome to POK.

It is evident, the reaction from New Delhi stems from the fact that Blome’s visit was asix-day “secret” visit to Gilgit-Baltistan and which even the government of Gilgit-Baltistan was unaware of.

According to the reports published by Dawn newspaper, Blomeis said to have met with the local representatives and officials in Gilgit-Baltistan. The entire visit was handled clandestinely by the US embassy and Pakistan government, while the details of the reason for the visit were hushed.

In response to Blome’s visit to POK, US ambassador to India Eric Garcetti dismissed the matter by saying “It’s not my place to react to the US Ambassador in Pakistan but he’s been before and we obviously had part of our delegation in Jammu and Kashmir during G20 as well”.

It must be understood, the matter of a nation hosting a covert diplomatic visit with another nation cannot be equated to a global conference such as the G20 conference which was attended by several nations. While one visit adheres to withholding information from other nations and acts as a self serving gesture between the two states- US and Pakistan ,  the other is a transparent platform for Sovereign states for International exchange or mediation.

In light of G20 being held in Kashmir, it is apparent that Pakistan tried to leverage its Narrative by arranging the US diplomat Blome’s visit.

Garcetti’s statement,also seems contradictory especially when the Ambassador stated that the Jammu and Kashmir issue needs to be solved bilaterally by India and Pakistan and not by any third party. If that is the case, there should have been no need for Blome to be in Gilgit-Baltistan in the first place.

Blome’s referral to POK as Azad Jammu and Kashmir was also flagged by India. Given the terminology used by Blome, it is certain to which side Blome, respectively the US which he represents,caters to. The visit itself comes as foreboding to discredit Kashmir as a part of India and to reinforce the Narrative of India being the aggressor and occupying Kashmir illegally.

The External Affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “Our position on the entire Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir being an integral part of India is well known. We would like to urge the international community to respect our sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Pakistan’s narrative was discredited by a book “Raiders of Kashmir” written by a retired Pakistan Army Maj Gen Akbar Khan. The former confesses about his role in the military and Pakistan’s involvement in sparking the conflict in Kashmir post Partition of India in 1947 which ultimately led to Pakistan’s illegal occupation of POK.

Khan was one of the few architects of the operational plan carried by Pakistan to take over Kashmir in 1947. While serving as the Director of weapons and equipment (DW&E) in GHQ at the time, he was tasked with developing an action plan detailing the position, distribution  and the placement of weapons in various sectors. 12 Copies of the plan were received by Pakistani political and military leaders. In a conference with Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, the plan was adopted. The conference was attended by Finance Minister (Ghulam Mohammad, later Governor General), MianIftikharruddin, Zaman Kiani, Khurshid Anwar, Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan. Khurshid Anwar was appointed commander of the northern sector, Zaman Kiani, of the southern sector while Sardar Shaukat Hayat was to be the overall commander. Akbar Khan was appointed as the military adviser to the Prime Minister. The book covers a detailed account of the proceedings of the Pakistani government which led to Pakistan’s invasion into the Kashmir valley in 1947.

October 22, is observed as the day when Pakistani raiders invaded Jammu and Kashmir and illegally occupied areas in the region. This led to a conflict between India and Pakistan. As a retaliation to the invasion, the Indian Army was forced to defend Jammu and Kashmir against the tribesmen and Pakistani Army regulars. Given the content of the book, the book was banned by Pakistan.

Amidst the claims made by Pakistan about India in regards to Kashmir at the UNGA, the lack of transparency from the US delegation visiting the disputed POK,is a serious concern for India.

Pakistan has often tried to direct the international influence towards its narratives against India’s claims on Kashmir. In order to do so, it has garnered the help of anti India jihadist elements, anti India elements, and various non governmental entities internationally, who function under the façade of advocating human rights while having affiliations with groups such as Popular Front of India (PFI) or off shoots of terrorist proscribed outfits.

It is imperative to mention Kashmir American Council as well. The group plies out of the United States, propagates against India, spreads false narratives against India’s administration, comes heavily funded by Pakistani ISI and maintains strong ties with Erdogan’s private army SADAT. The organization is founded by Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai. Fai is an American citizen of Kashmiri descent, and a Jamaat-e-Islami activist. He has lobbied on behalf of the Kashmiri separatist groups and the Government of Pakistan. KAC is a front organization for Pakistan’s ISI.

Kashmiri American Council  has conducted seminars, conferences and lectures on Kashmir. KAC gained popularity due to their annual event called “Kashmir Peace Conference” in Washington, D.C.

It projected itself as a unified forum for Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri voices.

However, the US Justice Department found substantial evidence about the involvement of the Pakistan Army and the ISI, who overlooked the authorization and approval of the list of speakers to incite hate against India at the KAC conference. Faihas requested SADAT to release its mercenaries against India in Kashmir. With US diplomats exhibiting close diplomatic proximity with Pakistan’s polity and military, it shouldn’t be surprising for New Delhi to be suspicious.

Last year, the visit of US Congress woman Illhan Omar to PoK, conjured a stern condemnation from India. In an attempt to draw attention to Pakistan’s Narrative of supposedly Human rights violations by India, Illhan tried to provoke a reaction from Washington by making  claims of US’s inability to censure the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on human rights.

Within days of Illhan’s rant, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had stated that the United States was monitoring what he described as a rise in human rights abuses in India by “some” officials. Interesting enough, at the time of IIhan and later Blome’s first visit to POK, a report from the US department of state on Human Rights practices 2022 in Pakistan uncovered several human rights violations.

The report highlighted various violations by Pakistan such as “unlawful or arbitrary killings,  extrajudicial killings, forced disappearance by the government or its agents; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government, restrictions on free expression and media, including violence against journalists, unjustified arrests and disappearances of journalists, censorship, and criminal defamation laws, and laws against blasphemy” to name a few.

Earlier this year, Pakistan’s fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) gained attention due to several human rights violations in the nation.This was reaffirmed by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) as well.

Pakistan was given  340 recommendations – with a considerable increase from its earlier  UPR in 2017, when it received 289 recommendations.

Being infamous for the lack of accountability and human rights violations,  Pakistan remains far from credible on matters of Human rights. With the emergence of frequent reports on the extra judicial killings of minorities, abductions and displacement of several Baloch, Sindhis,  Pashtuns, Ahmadis and Shias and lack of basic provisions of human rights for its populous , it is always surprising  to witness several nations such as the US blatantly cater to the views of a consistent violator of Human Rights. 

Logic would dictate, a collective action to be undertaken or administered by the states.

Perhaps, the individual national interest of nations would indicate their hypocrisy, especially at the cost of a nation such as India and the citizens of POK.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Aparna Rawal

is an Independent Researcher and Analyst specialing in Af/Pak region and Counter Terrorism.

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