Wednesday Apr 20, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Muslim US Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullah Omar on Wednesday met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Arif Alvi during her maiden visit to Pakistan.
The Congresswoman is on a four-day visit to Pakistan — April 20-24 — where apart from having meetings with the political leadership in Islamabad, she will visit Lahore and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to have a greater understanding of Pakistan's cultural, social, political, and economic potential, the PM's Office said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister, during their meeting at the PM Office, warmly welcomed her on her first-ever visit to Pakistan and appreciated her courage of convictions and political struggle.
The premier hoped that it would lead to deepening people-to-people ties and strengthen exchanges between the Parliament of Pakistan and the US Congress.
The prime minister underscored that Pakistan valued its long-standing relationship with the United States and wanted to further deepen bilateral cooperation based on mutual respect, trust, and equality.
He highlighted that constructive engagement between the two countries could help promote peace, security, and development in the region.
During the meeting, matters of mutual interest including Pakistan-US bilateral relations as well as regional situations were discussed. Maintaining that the US was Pakistan’s largest trading partner, the prime minister emphasised the need to further enhance cooperation between the two countries, especially in the trade and investment fields.
The prime minister lauded the efforts of the Pakistani diaspora in reinforcing the Pakistan-US ties and added that Islamabad deeply valued their contribution to national development and growth.
The prime minister highlighted the serious human rights situation in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, enabling the region to realize its economic potential and promote social progress.
The prime minister emphasised that a peaceful and stable South Asian region can focus on its growth and development. He added that concerted efforts, at the global level, were needed to deal with the scourge of Islamophobia.
In response, the congresswoman thanked the prime minister and hoped that her visit to the country would help strengthen ties between Pakistan and the US Congress.
Earlier, the visiting US Congresswoman called on President Arif Alvi at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
Speaking on the occasion, President Alvi said that Pakistan values its longstanding relationship with the US and expressed the hope that the constructive engagements between the two countries would promote peace and development in the region.
He emphasised the need for further improving bilateral relations in various fields for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
He apprised the visiting dignitary about the atrocities being committed by the PM Modi-led government in India against minorities, particularly Muslims.
He said that India was involved in the genocide of Muslims and committed gross human rights violations against them.
He also highlighted the role played by Pakistan in the promotion of peace in the region as well as its sacrifices against the war on terror.
The president underlined that IT is the most important sector for investment and urged US businessmen to invest in this sector.
Omar said that both countries had huge potential to improve and strengthen bilateral relations. She appreciated the role played by Pakistan against Islamophobia, particularly towards the adoption of UN resolution in this regard.
The Muslim US congresswoman also met former prime minister Imran Khan at his residence in Bani Gala, Islamabad.
Sharing a photo of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Ilhan Omar on her Twitter handle, former minister for human rights Shireen Mazari said that matters of mutual interest, Islamophobia, and other issues were discussed in the meeting.
“Ilhan expressed her admiration for Imran Khan and his position on and work against Islamophobia globally,” she wrote.
Speaking on the occasion, Imran Khan appreciated her courageous and principled position on issues, she added.
In response to the meeting, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah questioned his meeting with the US Congresswoman.
"Was the meeting with the American Congresswoman part of a conspiracy or was it interference?" the minister asked Imran Khan in a statement. "Which US conspiracy did you discuss with Ilhan Omar"?
He went on to say why Imran Khan, who was accusing the former Opposition of hatching a conspiracy along with the United Stated against his government, was meeting Americans.
"Which conspiracy are you brewing now?"
The interior minister said that if Imran Khan does not come clean before the nation regarding his meeting with the Congresswoman, the government will initiate a probe into it.
"The nation deserves to know the truth. Otherwise, Imran Niazi, following his tradition, might bring forth another letter in a few days."
Further criticising the former prime minister, Sanaullah said that the man who used to incite the nation against the United States was now "laughing and talking to the Americans".
Why did the person who provoked the nation with the slogans of "absolutely not" say "absolutely yes" to the meeting with the Congresswoman, Sanaullah questioned.
The 39-year-old Omar belongs to the Democrats and represents the State of Minnesota in Congress. She is one of the two Muslim women elected to the US Congress in 2018.
An experienced Twin Cities policy analyst, organiser, public speaker and advocate, Omar was sworn into office in January 2019, making her the first African refugee to become a Member of Congress, the first woman of colour to represent Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress.
Born in Somalia, she and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in the 1990s. In 1997, she moved to Minneapolis with her family.
As a teenager, Omar’s grandfather inspired her to get involved in politics. Before running for office, she worked as a community educator at the University of Minnesota, was a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and served as a Senior Policy Aide for the Minneapolis City Council.
In 2016 she was elected as the Minnesota House Representative for District 60B, making her the highest-elected Somali-American public official in the United States and the first Somali-American State Legislator. Rep. Omar served as the Assistant Minority Leader, with assignments to three house committees; Civil Law and Data Practices Policy, Higher Education & Career Readiness Policy and Finance, and State Government Finance.
Omar has staunchly supported Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and has often tweeted her support for them.
In 2019 after the annexation of Kashmir by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Omer had called for an immediate restoration of communication; respect for human rights, democratic norms, and religious freedom; and de-escalation in Kashmir, saying that the international organisations should be allowed to fully document what is happening on the ground.