India raises objection to US ambassador’s visit to PoK
Rezaul H Laskar
NEW DELHI: India has protested to the US over a visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) by the American ambassador in Islamabad, whose repeated references to the region as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)” did not go down well in New Delhi.
Donald Blome, the US ambas- sador to Pakistan, made a three day visit to Pok from October 2 to promote the bilateral partnership and highlight people-to- people ties, according to a state- ment from the US embassy in Islamabad.
The statement too referred to the region as AJK.
“Our objection to the visit and meetings in Pakistan-occu- pied Jammu and Kashmir by the US ambassador to Pakistan has been conveyed to the US, side,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly news briefing without giving details.
People familiar with the mat- ter said the Indian side was
DONALD BLOME, US AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN, MADE A THREE-DAY VISIT TO POK FROM OCTOBER 2 TO PROMOTE BILATERAL PARTNERSHIP
irked by several references to AJK by the US side, including by the ambassador. The Indian position is that the region is jails. under illegal occupation by Pakistan.
India has criticised other such visits to PoK from the US side. In April, described US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s visit to PoK as “condemnable” and accused her of violating the country’s sovereignty by travel- ling to a region illegally occu- pied by Pakistan
During his visit, Bloome met “AJK prime minister” Tanveer Ilyas and academic, business, cultural and civil society representatives.
While in Muzaffarabad, he visited the Quaid-e-Azam Memorial Dak Bungalow and said in a tweet: “The Quaid-e- Azam Memorial Dak Bungalow symbolizes the cultural and his- torical richness of Pakistan and was famously visited by [Muhammad Ali] Jinnah in Pakistan is “duty-bound” to 1944. I’m honored to visit dur- ensure the safety of all Indian ing my first trip to AJK.”
Responding to a separate question, Bagchi expressed con- cern at the increase of deaths of Indian prisoners in Pakistani
He described the death of six prisoners over the past nine months as “alarming”.
“Six Indian prisoners, five of them fishermen, have died in Pakistani custody in the last nine months or so,” he said.
“All six of them, interestingly, had completed their sentences, but they were…illegally detained by Pakistan despite completing their sentences and in spite of multiple demands from the Indian side for their release and sentences. repatriation,” he added.
“These increasing incidents of death of Indian prisoners is alarming and raises the question of their safety and security in Pakistani jails. The matter has been raised by our high commission in Islamabad as well as with the Pakistani high commission here,” Bagchi said.
prisoners in its custody. “We request the Pakistan government once again to release and repatriate all Indian prison ers immediately,” he said.
The most recent lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen exchanged by the two countries in July showed that there were 49 Indian civilian prisoners and 633 fishermen in Pakistan’s custody, while 309 Pakistani civil ian prisoners and 95 fishermen were in Indian jails.
At that time, India had asked Pakistan to expedite the release and repatriation of 536 fisher men and three civilian prison ers who had completed their sentences. Courtesy Hindustan Times.