‘There is a difference’: Foreign Ministry rebuts criticism on J&K visit by MEPs
The foreign ministry, which has been criticised by opposition parties for facilitating a controversial visit of a group of European lawmakers, on Thursday defended the decision, denying that facilitating this visit to Jammu and Kashmir would internationalise the issue.
“There is a clear distinction between internationalising the issue and international engagement,” foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a weekly media briefing on Thursday afternoon.
This is the first time that the foreign ministry has spoken on the visit that has been faulted by the Opposition including the Congress on multiple counts. Opposition parties have complained that the government had let foreign lawmakers visit J&K but stopped Indian delegations, raised questions about the obscure organiser of the visit and argued that the visit would end up internationalising the Kashmir issue.
The foreign ministry responded to some of this criticism.
“Engagement with diplomatic community is not internationalising the issue. We are supposed to share our perspective with different group of people. We feel that this is in the larger interest,” Kumar said in response to questions on the recent visit by a group of 23 European lawmakers.
The Foreign Ministry also pointed to comments made by members of European Parliament (MEPs) on conclusion of their Kashmir visit that were largely supportive of Indian line.
“The MEPs statements’ clearly reflected that they understand the ground situation and how terrorism poses threat to India and UT of J&K,” Raveesh Kumar said.
The foreign ministry spokesperson did not get into the details of the organiser of this visit but underscored that the ministry’s mandate requires them to engage with people from different backgrounds.
He said the foreign ministry facilitated meetings for the group which had expressed a “keen desire to visit and know about India”. “They belong to different spectrum of Europe and political parties,” the spokesperson said.
The lawmakers had meetings with PM Narendra Modi, National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval and other dignitaries before heading on their Kashmir visit.