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EDITORIAL: US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was in Pakistan last week on a four-day private visit. What she saw and said here makes a case for the world, particularly the United States, to see this country in its true colour uninfluenced as it should be by its next door neighbour’s jaundiced disinformation. She visited an Afghan refugee camp.

She also met the Kashmiris who nurse bullet wounds due to ceasefire violations by India, in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). And she enjoyed a trip to the ‘Walled City’ of Lahore where she was fascinated to find a church, a Sikh temple and a Hindu temple in close proximity to a mosque.

If for Ilhan Omar, who was born in civil war-torn Somalia and brought up in the United States where she came as a refugee sponsored by the United Nations and is now member of House of Representatives, the visit to Pakistan was an authentication of her struggle for human dignity for the Pakistanis. Her words came as a brush of fresh air as she copiously endorsed their worldview.

Given the fact that the US State Department has disowned her visit to Pakistan and New Delhi’s claim that her visit was to “practice her narrow-minded policies,” we in here feel greatly encouraged to find that an independent American may not be in agreement with Washington’s perspective of Pakistan.

She says: “I am someone who has experienced oppression and violation of human rights at a young age, and since I have been put into a position of power by people, I deem it my duty to advocate for those who don’t have that power.”

Incidentally, Ilhan Omar happened to be in Azad Jammu and Kashmir when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in Srinagar to ‘celebrate’ the fourth anniversary of New Delhi’s illegal move to deprive Kashmiris of their political and economic autonomy. As a completely shut-down metropolis greeted Modi she was in the company of Kashmiri people who nurse the bullet wounds.

To her this was the firsthand experience that she said put her under an obligation to stand for human rights and human dignity. Having met the people in person and seen them suffer made her feel necessary to raise the issue at the Congress. According to her, the issue should get more attention from the US. She also promised to fight the exploitative use of the waters of Punjab’s rivers by India, as she had done in the case of some South American states.

One may say one swallow doesn’t make summer and so would be Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s good picture of Pakistan and its people. But she did promise to make the summer, a task certainly quite challenging but possible, especially now as there is the new political government in Pakistan which believes there was no US-sponsored “conspiracy” to dislodge the government headed by Imran Khan.

Let more American Congressmen and Congresswomen come to Pakistan and enjoy spicy food and warm hospitality as Ilhan Omar did. And then she has a message to the Pakistani diaspora in the US, whose participation in the civil society and electoral process she said is critical to making a niche on the political scene in her country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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