L'affaire Fai

Some of the reactions in India to the arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, a United States-based Kashmir activist, have been overheated and indeed over the top. Dr. Fai has been charged by the FBI with violating a U.S. domestic law that requires anyone working for or accepting money from foreign governments to disclose this information; the FBI's complaint, filed in a U.S. court, accuses him of acting as an “agent” of the Pakistan government who accepted up to $4 million from the Inter-Services Intelligence to influence the U.S. government on its Kashmir policy. Most intelligence agencies further the interests of their countries in similar ways, even in less important capitals; some agencies are more competent than others at achieving their goals and masking their own involvement. Dr. Fai, a long-time U.S. resident, had been carrying on his lobbying work for nearly two decades and was known to have powerful friends inside the Beltway. It cannot be that the FBI suddenly stumbled on his failure to disclose the source of the funds with which his Kashmiri American Council ( >www.kashmiri.com) organised conferences and seminars on the Kashmir issue, right under the nose of the U.S. establishment. It is more plausible that the Fai arrest, days after the ISI director-general Lt. General Shuja Pasha's visit to the U.S., was a message to the Pakistan military to tone down its high anti-American rhetoric of recent weeks. From the Raymond Davis arrest in Lahore to Dr. Fai's arrest from his home in Virginia, Pakistan and the United States have given a copybook demonstration of how they do business with each other.

The 62-year-old Kashmiri's activities were an irritant for India, and to that extent New Delhi is a beneficiary of the arrest. Allegations have been made in the Indian press for more than a decade that Dr. Fai was channelling funds to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, although no evidence of this has come to hand. What is totally uncalled for is the vilification of the Indians who attended the KAC conferences. That these scholars, journalists, activists, and prominent public figures accepted hospitality and air-tickets from a lobbyist for Pakistan does not make them ISI agents. After all, these are days ex-ISI and ex-RAW officials discuss peace prospects in Kashmir in Track 2 conferences that are funded by a range of interested parties, from foreign governments to NGOs. It is right for Indians from a range of backgrounds to meet and exchange ideas with those speaking for Pakistan. But l'affaire Fai does send out the message that better discretion must be exercised in accepting such invitations — and that there must be transparency about the sources of funding of the events.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 4:31:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/laffaire-fai/article2290624.ece

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