Pakistan accused United States on Thursday of a campaign of slander against Islamabad over the arrest of a US citizen accused of running an ‘illegal front group’ for Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute.
The 62-year-old Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai was held by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on Tuesday for failing to register as a foreign government agent. He is alleged to have used $4 million in Pakistani funds to influence the US’ position on Kashmir.
He was scheduled for a hearing at the federal court in Alexandria on Thursday, but his lawyer could not appear before the court due to a conflict in schedule. The hearing has been delayed till July 26.
The US has accused that Fai’s Pakistani handlers funnelled millions of dollars from the country’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), through a front group, the Kashmiri American Council, of which Fai is the director. If proven guilty, he will face a prison sentence.
Pakistan rejected the allegations calling the development as an attempt to ‘defame the just cause of the Kashmiri people.’
“We appreciate the contributions made by the Kashmiri-American Council (KAC) and Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai for the cause of Jammu and Kashmir,” said a foreign ministry statement.
But it did not say whether the government provided him any funds to propagate its view on Kashmir in the US.
The statement voiced concern over what it called ‘slander campaign against Pakistan.’
“A demarche was made to the US Embassy in Islamabad today to register our concerns, in particular the slander campaign against Pakistan,” the statement added.
The statement maintained that the Jammu and Kashmir is one of the oldest disputes on the agenda of the UN.
There are several UN Security Council Resolutions on the subject that affirm the inalienable right of the Kashmiris to self-determination, it contended.
The arrest of Fai is said to be linked with the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and the US. Official sources here claim the US move is an attempt to pressurise Pakistan to accept its demands including the release of a Pakistani doctor, who ran a fake polio vaccine drive for CIA in Abbottabad to get the DNA samples of Osama bin Laden’s family.
The issue was believed to be one of the main things discussed at the meeting between Director of the US National Intelligence James Clapper and ISI Chief Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha on Tuesday.
However, there was no word from both sides on the US official’s visit and his engagements. The Pakistani community in the United States has protested against the arrest. At a press conference in Washington on Wednesday, they announced that a legal relief committee, comprising Kashmiris, will be formed to assist Dr Fai in his case.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2011.
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