New Delhi: After the US ambassador in Pakistan visited Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, his counterpart in New Delhi Eric Garcetti on Tuesday, September 26, drew a parallel with the American delegation’s visit to Srinagar as part of meetings for the G20.
Donald Blome travelled to the Gilgit and Hunza valleys recently, which was flagged by opposition parties in Pakistan. The American Embassy in Islamabad said that the purpose of his visit was to “explore opportunities for strengthening the region’s climate resilience”. According to Dawn, the spokesperson of the US Embassy in Islamabad, Jonathan Lalley said that Pakistan was one of the world’s most vulnerable countries when it came to climate change.
While India’s Ministry of External Affairs has not yet reacted to the latest development, the US envoy to India Eric Garcetti drew a parallel between the American delegation visiting Kashmir during G20 meetings to Blome’s visit to Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said it was not his place to react to the Blome’s visit but added, “…he’s been before and we obviously had part of our delegation in Jammu and Kashmir during the G20 as well”, according to India Today.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 20th Indo-US Economic Summit, Garcetti reiterated the US’s position on the Kashmir dispute by saying that it has to be resolved between India and Pakistan and not by a third party.
Blome’s previous visit to the region last year saw India lodging a protest with the United States. The US envoy had then referred to the region as ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’. India lays claim to the entire Kashmir region, including parts administered by Pakistan beyond the Line of Control (LoC).
Blome also recently met with the country’s chief election commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, a move criticised by opposition parties in Pakistan. Last week, opposition leader in the Gilgit-Baltistan assembly Kazim Mesum said the “mysterious activities” of the US ambassador have raised questions, according to Dawn.
The envoy had also visited the port city where China is executing infrastructure projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was also flagged by Mesum.
Former Senate chairman and PPP leader Mian Raza Rabbani on Monday said the manner in which diplomats were “visiting strategic areas and commenting on the internal affairs of the country led one to believe that a new form of the East India Company had invaded Pakistan”.