Ilhan Omar during her visit criticised the reluctance of the US government to discuss the issue of human rights abuses in India-administered Kashmir.

Omar's comments while in Pakistan have drawn sharp criticism from New Dehli.
Omar's comments while in Pakistan have drawn sharp criticism from New Dehli. (Reuters)

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has made a rare visit by a US lawmaker to Pakistan's administered Kashmir and said the issue of the disputed Himalayan region should get more attention from the United States, prompting an angry response from India. 

"I don't believe that it (Kashmir dispute) is being talked about to the extent it needs to in Congress but also with the administration," Omar told reporters on Thursday after visiting the de facto border dividing the territory between Pakistan and India.

"On the question of Kashmir, we held a hearing in the foreign affairs committee (of Congress) to look at the reports of human rights violations," said Omar, who arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday and has met Pakistan's leaders.

New Delhi sharply criticised Omar's visit.

"Let me just say that if such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that's her business," said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India's foreign ministry.

"But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty…makes this ours and we think the visit is condemnable."

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Decades of tensions 

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.

Earlier this month Omar questioned what she called the reluctance of the US government to criticise Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on human rights.

Days later, US 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.

India has long faced allegations of rights abuses in the portion of the territory it administers, charges New Delhi denies.

It tightly controls access to disputed Kashmir for foreign observers, including the UN.

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 US Congress.

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Source: Reuters