On July 19, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, on the following charges (i) acting as an agent of a foreign principal without registering with the Attorney General in violation of Foreign Agents Registration act (FARA); (ii) Falsify, conceal and cover up material facts they had a duty to disclose in matters within the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch agencies of the US government. Another person who is a co-accused with Fai is Zaheer Ahmed, 63, a US citizen and a resident of Pakistan. Ahmed could not be arrested as he was reported to be in Pakistan. Fai is also a US citizen. This is legal language, but there is much more to this as explained in the US Justice Department affidavit.
Briefly, the detailed affidavit makes the following important points. Dr. Fai was working on behalf of the Pakistani government and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI); his Non-Government Organization (NGO) Kashmir American Council (KAC) or Kashmir Center, worked to influence US law makers and officials; attempted to influence US policies and laws by holding high profile conferences; received hundreds of millions of dollars illegally from the ISI (at least $4 million since mid-1990s); had his plans approved by the ISI; two similar organizations existed in London and Brussels. The affidavit, however, took care to record there was no evidence that any of the elected (American) officials who received financial contributions from Fai and KAC was aware that the money originated from any part of the Pakistani government. All very nicely done.
Ghulam Nabi Fai has been charged, but not convicted. Such trials in the US do not take much time. One would have to see how the case proceeds. It would be the biggest joke of the last two decades if people who have enjoyed Fai’s hospitality and largesse plead that they had no knowledge of his links with the ISI and the Pakistani establishment. So is the case with American intelligence and security agencies and think tanks. But the mainline US media has generally kept away from Fai and his KAC.
Inside the Washington D.C. belt way it was very well known for years who Ghulam Nabi Fai was, his origin from Kashmir in India, and that the source of his funds emanated from Pakistan, that is, the ISI. Several Pakistani Americans and Indian Kashmiri Muslim Americans have in the past openly challenged Fai as an ISI agent. For the kind of operation Fai was running a lot of money had to be spent, and the Kashmiri Muslim American doctors are not the kind of people who would spend money from their pockets. Their presence was hardly noticed in Fai’s jamborees.
The most they and some others of Pakistani origin did was to reluctantly lend their front, to be paid back at home. One can be reasonably certain that if the FBI made a thorough investigation, it would find lower level of Pakistanis in the USA who were fronting for Fai and the ISI.
Similar is the case with the ISI’s Kashmir modules in Europe. The “Justice Foundation – Kashmir Centre” in London was headed by Dr. A. Thakur. After his death Prof. Nazir Ahmed Shawl has taken over. It was officially formed in 2004. In Brussels, the Kashmir Centre European Union (EU) was established in 2003 and is headed by Barrister Majid Tramboo. It has an umbrella organization, the International Council for Human Rights (ICHR), a nomenclature that would cause an ordinary person to confuse it with United Nations Human Rights Conference (UNHCR) in Geneva.
All the three centres posed as acting on behalf of the Kashmiris striving for self-determination, and the rights of the Kashmiri people. The United Kingdom and the EU are now obliged to probe into the source of funding for these organizations and they can get information from the US government. They must also seek information on donations or contributions received by their law makers and officials from these Kashmir centres.
The propaganda and activities of all the three Kashmir centres are not only psychological and media operations. They are very subtle and sophisticated operations by the ISI to subvert the minds of the Western politicians who jump at any mention of human rights violations without going into the depth of these allegations and the credentials of those who are making the allegations.
The basic theme projected by all the three Kashmir Centres are as follows (a) rights of the Kashmiri people for self-determination (b) plebiscite in Kashmir to determine which country – Pakistan or India they would prefer to join, (c) human rights violation in Kashmir (Indian), and (d) withdrawal of Indian security forces from Kashmir (India). The exact position and propaganda of Pakistan.
The UN resolutions on Kashmir are so old that most of the international community has forgotten the three parts of the resolution in its entirety, and hung on to Pakistan’s forceful propaganda. Plebiscite was the third and the last step. The first step demanded withdrawal of all Pakistani forces and fighters from the whole of Kashmir. The second step was for the Indian police to restore law and order. If the first two did not take place, the third is out of the question. Since 1947-48 the entire climate of the region has changed. Very recently, this venerable Air Marshal (Retd.) Asghar Khan of Pakistan told a seminar in Islamabad that Kashmir’s Maharaja Hari Singh had legally acceded to India with Kashmir, and Pakistan had sent tribal fighters to Kashmir who killed, raped and looted the people wantonly. It needs no further proof that Pakistan has illegally occupied a part of Kashmir.
If the Kashmir question is to be seriously taken up, then it must include Jammu and Ladakh on the Indian side. The voting will be heavily for India including in the Kashmir valley.
A major question is Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) which includes not only Muzzafarabad but Gilgit, Baltistan and the Northern Areas. Further, Pakistan has ceded more than 5000 Sq.Kms. of this territory to China in an agreement in 1963. So, where is the question of a Kashmir plebiscite when Pakistan has ceded a part of the region to a third country?
Equally important in the Kashmir Centres’ propaganda is the state of affairs in POK. India has held open and free elections in Jammu and Kashmir endorsed by international observers. In POK, the directives go from Islamabad and the leaders are selected by Islamabad. These facts of history and more, and the current situation, is not unknown to the governments of the US, the UK or the EU countries. The UK, especially, is cognizant about what they did in the initial years of partition of India when they had a governor general in the Pak capital (then Rawalpindi), directed the Pakistani army and set up the ISI. It is on record that U.K. wanted to build up Pakistan as a bulwark against Soviet expansion, and did not trust India which, from the very beginning, followed an independent policy.
To speak plainly, during the Cold War years, the US, the UK, and some European countries gave asylum and covert support to Khalistani Sikh terrorists who waged a war of terror against India to break Punjab from the Indian Union. Pakistan was very much on their front-line side. Of course, it was a matter of geopolitics and things have changed, and Khalistani supporters now receive some support from Pakistan only. It is a dead cause. The entire global perspective has changed, with terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Pakistan even attracting white terrorists from Europe which is a cause for concern. If the terrorists cannot hit the US mainland or Europe, they are determined to strike at their interests elsewhere in the world from their bases in Pakistan.
The US, UK and the EU must seriously examine that given the fact that the ISI was using the Kashmir Centres for non-military warfare, is it also using such Centres to finance terrorist modules in these countries?
To most international and Indian observers it is apparent that the US took this step to expose the ISI’s Kashmir Centre operations to further pressurise the ISI in the current US-Pak relations crashing on counter-terrorism. During her recent visit to India (July 19-20), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned countries who gave safe bases to terrorists (read Pakistan), but also said Pakistan was USA’s close ally in fighting terrorists. This had little to do with India, but was a message to Pakistan from the soil of a country which has borne the brunt of Pakistan’s foreign policy of terrorism, that the Rawalpindi GHQ had crossed the red line.
The US and Pakistan’s real government, the army and the ISI, have drifted so far apart, that Washington may have to exit Pakistan to achieve their aims. There is still time to reconcile. But if the ISI’s covert activities abroad are not forcefully rolled back, terror will always threaten the US, UK and Europe. This is the bottom line.
To conclude, the ISI’s three centres in Washington, London and Brussels were masterful operations. The presence of Indian invitees, especially in Fai’s outfit, endorsed Pakistan’s propaganda on Kashmir. It was remarkable how many intellectuals in the US and Europe believed in this charade, which became almost the truth, with all concerned fully aware of what was going on.
(The writer, Mr Bhaskar Roy, is an eminent China analyst based in New Delhi.Email: email@example.com)