ISI agent held in US for illegal lobbying on Kashmir (Lead)

July 20th, 2011 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 20 (IANS) The US has arrested a pro-Pakistan activist and a known face of the Kashmiri separatist movement who allegedly funelled ISI’s $4 million for illegal lobbying to influence the American government’s position on the Kashmir issue.

With the arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, a 62-year-old Pakistani-American Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has exposed Pakistan’s two-decade-long covert gameplan to influence American policy against India on the Kashmir issue.

Fai, a resident of Fairfax in Virginia, and other accused Zaheer Ahmad, also US citizen believed to be at large in Pakistan, were charged by the FBI Tuesday. Fai is the executive director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) that was allegedly run in secret by the Pakistani government.

The FBI alleged that the two had “participated in a long-term conspiracy to act as agents of the Pakistani government in the United States without disclosing their affiliation with the Pakistani government as required by law”.

In its 43-page court affidavit unsealed during the indictment of two pro-Pakistan activists, the FBI said Pakistan’s military and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) funnelled $4 million over two decades to tilt US’ Kashmir policy against India.

The Washington-based KAC long known of lobbying for the self-determination in Jammu and Kashmir organises annual separatist conferences in the US attended by Kashmiri separatist leaders.

The two men face up to five years in prison if convicted.

The money funnelled into the US was also meant for campaign donations to members of Congress and presidential candidates, according to the FBI.

The affidavit alleges four Pakistani government handlers directed Fai’s US activities. He got in touch with his Pakistani handlers “more than 4,000 times” since June 2008. His handlers also communicated with Ahmad regularly.

According to the affidavit, a confidential witness told investigators that the money was transferred to Fai through Ahmad.

Another confidential witness told investigators that the ISI created the KAC to “propagandise on behalf of the government of Pakistan with the goal of uniting Kashmir”.

The two men stand accused of concealing the fact that a foreign government was funding and directing their lobbying and public relations efforts in America, said Lisa Monaco, US assistant attorney general.

“His handlers in Pakistan allegedly funneled millions through the Kashmir Center to contribute to US elected officials, fund high-profile conferences, and pay for other efforts that promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride.

FBI Assistant Director James McJunkin said “Fai’s alleged conduct illustrates the risk to our fair and open government”.

The arrest of two alleged Pakistani agents comes at a time when US-Pakistan relations have reached an all-time low after the killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces inside Pakistan and expulsion of many US trainers by Pakistan.

Amid a complicated relationship between the US and the ISI, the Obama administration last week halted $800 million aid to the Pakistani military.

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