Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made a rare visit by a U.S. lawmaker to Pakistan’s part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Thursday and said the issue should get more attention from the United States, prompting an angry response from India.
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.
Both countries claim the territory in full but rule it in part.
“I don’t believe that it (Kashmir) is being talked about to the extent it needs to in Congress but also with the administration,” Omar told reporters after visiting the de facto border dividing the disputed territory between Pakistan and India.
Omar, a Somali American who belongs to President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, is the first naturalised citizen of African birth to sit in the U.S. Congress.
Earlier this month she questioned what she called the reluctance of the U.S. government to criticise Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on human rights.
Days later, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was monitoring what he described as a rise in human rights abuses in India by some officials, in a rare direct rebuke by Washington of New Delhi’s rights record.