India objects to recent visit of U.S. envoy to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

India objects to recent visit of U.S. envoy to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

PoK visit among irritants including F-16 support deal, sanctions on Indian company for Iran oil

India has conveyed its objections to the United States over the recent visit of the American Ambassador to Pakistan’s visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Ministry of External Affairs said on October 7.

Reacting to the visit, which the U.S. referred to as “AJK” (Azaad or ‘Free’ Jammu Kashmir), of Ambassador David Blome to Muzaffarabad and other areas across the Line of Control (LoC) that India recognises as its territory, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India had objected to both the visit and the meetings Mr. Blome held there.

In a press release about the visit from October 2-5, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it aimed to “promote U.S.-Pakistan partnership and highlight the two countries’ deep economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties”, detailing the U.S. projects and investments in the area.

“Our objection to the visit and meetings in PoJK (Pakistan Occupied Jammu Kashmir) by the U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan has been conveyed to the U.S. side,” Mr. Bagchi said in response to a question by TheHindu, but did not give details of the objection or how it was conveyed.

No American Ambassador has been posted to New Delhi since January 2021, when the Trump administration nominee Kenneth Juster demitted office after the change of government in the U.S. There have been some issues with the confirmation of Biden nominee Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and it is unclear if the issues will be resolved before the mid-term elections in the U.S. in November, which could delay the process further.

Concern on fighter jets

In the meanwhile, despite strong ties and regular meetings at the leadership levels, New Delhi has been dealing with a number of ‘pin-prick’ issues with Washington, particularly on Pakistan.

To a query, the MEA spokesperson said that India’s concerns over the U.S. package on support for F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan remained, despite the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s assertion that Pakistan used the F-16s for counter-terrorism operations. On the U.S. decision on September 29 to impose sanctions on an Indian company Mumbai-based Tibalaji Petrochem for the alleged import of oil from Iran, the first time the U.S. has taken such action against an Indian entity, the MEA said it was a “new development” and the government was looking into it.

Mr. Bagchi confirmed that the sanctions move, which was announced days after the Jaishankar-Blinken talks in Washington, had not come up during the bilateral talks.

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