US Congresswoman in Pakistan amid turmoil sparked by foreign conspiracy row

Islamabad, Apr 20 (EFE).- United States Congresswoman Ilhan Omar arrived in the Pakistan capital Wednesday amid a raging political crisis in the nuclear-powered South Asian country, sparked by ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s accusation that Washington had conspired to unseat him.

The Muslim Congresswoman will meet Pakistani officials and political leadership during her four-day trip to Pakistan.

“The Congresswoman will hold meetings with various dignitaries as well as the political leadership,” foreign ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar told EFE.

The spokesperson said she was likely to visit Lahore and parts of the disputed Kashmir region under Pakistani control.

The visit comes amid an unprecedented strain in ties between the US and Pakistan during the previous government of Imran Khan.

Khan has alleged that the US conspired with the Pakistani opposition to oust him after his Moscow visit to meet President Vladimir Putin on Feb.24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

Khan said the US and its western allies were enraged as Pakistan began a new era of an independent foreign policy and refused to back a United Nations resolution to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Washington has denied the allegations.

Khan’s meeting with Putin signaled growing proximity between Pakistan and Russia after the hurried US withdrawal from Afghanistan last August.

Khan was ousted from power earlier this month after losing the parliamentary majority as some of his allies and his party lawmakers abandoned him.

The parliament elected a new coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a pro-western politician and the younger brother of three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Omar, known for being vocal against Islamophobic voices and her support for the Palestinian cause, is the first senior US official to visit Pakistan after the formation of the new government and the “foreign conspiracy” row.

She has also condemned India’s alleged human rights violations in the disputed Kashmir region, divided between India and Pakistan amid sovereignty claims over the Muslim-majority Himalayan territory.

“We should be calling for an immediate restoration of communication, respect for human rights, democratic norms, and religious freedom, and de-escalation in Kashmir,” Omar tweeted in 2019, days after India unilaterally stripped the disputed region of its semi-autonomy after imposing months-long security lockdown.

She demanded that international organizations should be allowed to “fully document what is happening on the ground.”

Omar’s criticism of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial Kashmir decisions made her a target of harsh and sometimes abusive social media criticism in India.

She represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, in the US House of Representatives.

Omar, a Somali-born former refugee, made history in 2018 when she became one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress.

She and her family fled Somalia’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in the 1990s.

In 2016, she was elected as the Minnesota House Representative for District 60B, making her the highest-elected Somali-American public official in the US and the first Somali-American state legislator. EFE

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