July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan protested the arrest of an American citizen charged with funneling money to members of Congress to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir, linking it to efforts to “defame the just cause” of the region’s people.
Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, and Zaheer Ahmad, 63, were charged on July 19 in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lying to federal agents. Prosecutors said the two moved about $4 million from Pakistan’s government through the Washington-based Kashmiri American Council to sway U.S. lawmakers with campaign contributions and other lobbying activities while illegally hiding their foreign connections.
“We appreciate the contributions made by the Kashmiri- American Council and Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai for the cause of Jammu and Kashmir,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement last night. “A demarche was made to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad today to register our concerns, in particular the slander campaign against Pakistan.”
Control of Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, is divided between the two countries. India accuses Pakistan of funding separatist groups that took up arms against New Delhi’s rule in part of the Himalayan region in 1989. Pakistan denies the charges, saying it supports Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. The two nations are scheduled to hold peace talks at foreign minister level next week.
The council, headed by Fai, is “actually run” by elements of the Pakistani government, including Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
The pair failed to disclose their affiliation with Pakistan’s government as required by law, and Fai gave false answers in 2007 when asked about the links by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the government charged.
The case is U.S. v. Fai, 11-mj-00558, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).
--With assistance from Tom Schoenberg. Editors: Mark Williams, Paul Tighe
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