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India Protests Marriott’s Visit to PoK

India Protests Marriott’s Visit to PoK

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 13: India on Saturday lodged a strong protest over the British High Commissioner in Pakistan Jane Marriott along with an UK Foreign office official paying a visit to some areas of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

Reacting to the visit by British High Commissioner Jane Marriott, the ministry said on Saturday, “India has taken a serious note of the highly objectionable visit of the British High Commissioner in Islamabad, along with a UK Foreign Office official, to Pakistan occupied Kashmir on 10 January 2024. Such infringement of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unacceptable.”

“Foreign Secretary has lodged a strong protest with the British High Commissioner in India on this infringement. The Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are, have been and shall always remain an integral part of India,” the ministry said.

Sharing some photos from her visit to Mirpur in PoK, Ms Marriott had posted on X, “Salaam from Mirpur, the heart of the UK and Pakistan’s people-to-people ties! 70% of British Pakistani roots are from Mirpur, making our work together crucial for diaspora interests. Thank you for your hospitality!”

The handle of the British High Commission in Pakistan also shared a video of Ms Marriott’s visit to the area, which showed her going to a bakery and interacting with district officials.

In October last year, India had raised its concerns with the United States over the visit of American Ambassador to Islamabad, Donald Blome, to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Ministry of External Affairs had called on the world community to respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US ambassador had visited Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir in 2022 as well.

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 had said India had objected to both the visit and the meetings Mr Blome held there.

Donald Blome had travelled to Gilgit and Hunza valleys in the third week of September. The American Embassy in Islamabad had then said the purpose of his visit was to “explore opportunities for strengthening the region’s climate resilience.”

Speaking in Parliament in December, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said 24 seats had been reserved in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to underline that “PoK is ours.”

 

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