Jammu and Kashmir: Foreign diplomat visits J&K, Pakistan unrest

New Delhi: More than 20 foreign diplomats stationed in the country’s capital are set to visit Jammu and Kashmir on a two-day visit on Wednesday, 17 February, government sources have confirmed in the media. The delegation consists mainly of foreign diplomats from African, Middle-Eastern, and European countries.

This will be the fourth visit of top foreign diplomats from Jammu and Kashmir since the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A from the erstwhile state on August 5, 2019. A delegation of European MPs visited the two-day Kashmir in October 2019. After which 16 foreign ambassadors including the US Ambassador arrived in New Delhi on 16 January. A 25-member delegation of foreign ambassadors also visited Kashmir on 12 February 2020. The delegation included diplomats from Germany, Canada, France, and Afghanistan. The delegation was led by Vikas Swarup, the top Indian diplomat of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), who met several civil society delegations and was briefed by bureaucrats and security establishments in Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign diplomats arriving in Kashmir on the evening of 17 February will be welcomed into the snow-capped mountains of Gulmarg, which have seen record tours in recent weeks. The delegation is also expected to visit Baramulla in North Kashmir.

Government sources said, “The focus of the yatra is to show free and fair elections conducted by the District Development Council (DDC) in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Diplomats are likely to make a detailed presentation on the political process that began in Kashmir, which paved the way for the 4G Internet restoration in the Union Territory after 18 months. The delegation will meet and personally interact with the victorious DDC representatives of Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign diplomats who are visiting Jammu are likely to meet Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and will talk to top bureaucrats, police and army officials on development initiatives and the current security situation, especially in the Kashmir Valley.

Meanwhile, intelligence agencies are monitoring an inspired misinformation campaign launched by foreign diplomats due to a visit to Jammu and Kashmir. In the absence of any separatist or radical elements to incite violence in Kashmir, Pakistani intelligence agencies have resorted to social media for campaigning against the yatra.

Intelligence sources said, “Many tweets have monitored the servers of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, with posters spreading misinformation about travel and ground conditions in Kashmir.”

India’s security system has seen a sudden frustration in Pakistan over the last several months to incite violence in Kashmir by the summer of 2021.

Intelligence sources said, “Lack of violence or any internal insurgency in Kashmir in recent months has caused frustration in Pakistan and ISI.” They are desperate to take action, but in Kashmir, they are not getting the support they need now. “

India welcomed diplomats after the successful DDC elections and the resumption of 4G internet in Jammu and Kashmir is being seen as a positive development, which has also been welcomed by the administration of US President Joe Biden.

“We are watching the developments in Jammu and Kashmir with concern,” a foreign diplomat said on condition of anonymity. The restoration of democracy and the Internet is an important step, suggesting a peaceful environment. We look forward to our journey and understand the challenges on the ground. “

(With agency inputs)