Sixteen foreign envoys and senior diplomats, including US ambassador Kenneth Juster, travelled to Srinagar on Thursday to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the revocation of the region’s special status last August.
This was the first visit of diplomats organised by the government since it withdrew Kashmir’s autonomy and decided to split the former state into two union territories. The group was accompanied by senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry.
“Their first meeting was with security officials to get a sense of security situation in J&K, and also threat posed by terrorism in maintaining peace. Objective of the visit was for the envoys to see first hand the efforts which have been made by government to normalise situation,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Besides the US envoy, other prominent members of the group were South Korean ambassador Shin Bong-kil, Norwegian ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Vietnamese ambassador Pham Sanh Chau and Argentinian envoy Daniel Chuburu.
The group was taken around Srinagar and met panchayat members and representatives of local bodies and NGOs.
The representatives who met the envoys told them that they completely reject Pakistan’s disinformation about a “bloodbath” in Kashmir and also lauded the government’s handling of the actions taken on August 5 last year without bloodshed, said people familiar with developments.
The representatives acknowledged they were facing some difficulties but said this was necessary to maintain order.
They also highlighted Pakistan’s desperation and efforts to spread terrorism and blamed the neibouring country for killings in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the envoys to pressure Islamabad not to interfere, the people cited above said.
The representatives also said the people of Kashmir would not give an inch to Pakistan, the people added.
The countries that were part of the group were the US, Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Niger, Nigeria, Morroco, Guyana, Argentina, the Philippines, Norway, the Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh and Peru.