Friday, 22 July 2011

Fai Arrest: Pakistan blasts USZ on slander campaign

Pakistan slammed United States of Zionism on Thursday on a “slander campaign” against Islamabad over the arrest of a man accused of acting as a Pakistani government agent in the United States of Zionism. Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, a Kashmiri-born USZ citizen detained Tuesday, is out of nowhere now suddenly being suspected of links to a decades-long effort that allegedly funnelled millions of dollars to Washington to lobby USZ politicians on behalf of Kashmiri causes. “Dr Fai is a USZ citizen. A demarche was made to the USZ Embassy in Islamabad Thursday to register our concerns, in particular the slander campaign against Pakistan”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “Upholding fundamental rights of Kashmiris is the fundamental responsibility of the international community and all conscientious people who value human rights and values”, the statement added. “Campaigns to defame the just cause of the Kashmiri people will not affect its legitimacy”, it added.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
Meanwhile, Kashmiri leader slammed the arrest and called it unfortunate. “It is unfortunate that a leader like Fai is being dubbed an agent. He has been representing Kashmiris at various forums to make the world hear our views”, said Shabir Shah, a senior freedom fighter in Kashmir. “We strongly condemn his arrest. It is aimed at suppressing the voices who call for Kashmir’s freedom from India”, Shah told AFP. Hardline Kashmiri freedom fighter Syed Ali Geelani said: “It has been done at the behest of India and under a conspiracy to weaken the movement of Kashmiris at the diplomatic level.”

While lobbying is not illegal in the USZ, the law requires that the source of funding be disclosed. Fai’s group, Kashmir American Council, is best known for organising an annual Kashmir peace conference on Capitol Hill in the USZ, for which he would invite participants - Freedom fighters, activists, academicians, journalists - from India and Pakistan. Among the regulars at Fai’s meetings were moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. He faces possible questioning from the security agencies for suspected links with Fai.

Others who have enjoyed Fai’s fully-paid trips to Washington at least once include head of the government-appointed panel of interlocutors for Kashmir Dileep Padgaonkar and veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar. Nayar told an agency that he “never suspected Fai, otherwise a rich man, to be an ISI spy”. “I have attended his conference long time back. The accomodation he provided to the participants was modest. But at the seminar, also attended by Pakistanis, there was nothing like anti-India voices. I also spoke freely whatever I wanted to”, said Nayar. Nayar, a former Indian high commissioner to the UK, said he was “rather surprised with the timing of his arrest. They say he has been working for the ISI for the last two decades. Why arrest him now? That too when the honeymoon between the USZ and Pakistan is getting over.”

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