US says Ilhan Omar not visiting Pakistan on govt-sponsored travel

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Friday said that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is currently on her maiden visit to Pakistan, was not visiting the country on US government-sponsored travel.

The senior official made the statement during a press briefing today in response to a question from a journalist.

“As you are well aware that Imran Khan is still blaming US for his ouster from PM’s office while he’s also asking his supporters to keep protesting outside the White House. But yesterday Congresswoman Ilhan Omar met with Mr. Khan in Islamabad. It was kind of an hour-long meeting. Close associates of Mr. Khan claim that United States trying to clear the air with Mr. Khan. Is it true that Ilhan Omar is representing Biden government there in Islamabad,” the journalist had asked.

“Well, as I understand it, Representative Omar is not visiting Pakistan on US government-sponsored travel, so I’d need to refer you to her office for questions on her travel,” Price replied.

Omar, who made history as one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress, arrived in Islamabad earlier this week on a visit to Pakistan. The Congresswoman will stay in Pakistan till April 24.

She met a host of important figures including President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Foreign Office officials, as well as
PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Omar’s first day in Pakistan was, however, dominated by a controversy over her meeting with ex-premier Khan who claims a Washington-backed conspiracy was behind his government’s ouster. Washington has denied the claims.

Besides taking a hardline on the private interactions between politicians and US officials, Khan has in his speeches at public rallies vowed no subservience to the US while accusing his opponents of toeing Washington’s line.

According to PTI’s Shireen Mazari, Omar had discussed Islamophobia and other related issues in the meeting with Khan at the PTI chairman’s Bani Gala residence.

Politicians and social media users immediately questioned the PTI chairman about the meeting with the American legislator and reminded him of his criticism of US officials meeting opposition figures. Newly elected Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah led the charge by asking Khan if his meeting with Omar was “a conspiracy or interference”.

Mazari, subsequently, fired back at the critics by saying that Omar was not a part of the US administration.

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