The arrest of Executive Director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, a US citizen of Kashmir descent, by Washington has come as a surprise to many including US officials. Lobbying in America is a recognised political activity and profession operating within the law. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in the US requires those who receive funding or lobby on behalf of a foreign government to register as foreign agent. Thus Fai’s mistake was that he did not file the correct paperwork declaring that he was working with a foreign government. The US Indian Political Action Committee (USINP AC) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AlPAC) are not, however, held to the same standards. They are not registered under FARA because USTNPAC claims it focuses only on the Indian American community, whereas AIPAC states that it does not receive funding from Israel. However, it is difficult to separate the policies of these two groups from those of India and Israel. India-friendly policies proposed by USINPAC promote India’s national interest as well. For instance, USINPAC played a role in pushing the US-India nuclear deal through the US Congress. Meanwhile, AIP AC lobbies for financial aid to Israel, securing up to $3 billion annually, making Israel the largest collective recipient of US aid over the past 60 years.
The lobbies range from ethnic and denominational groups to those catering to commercial interests, and help clarify issues for lawmakers. Dr Fai and his organisation have behaved no differently. A PhD in Mass Communications from Temple University, Pennsylvania, Dr Fai, also a recipient of prestigious American awards, is not linked to any terrorist activity directly or indirectly.
All along he has acted as a political activist projecting the cause of Kashmir’s freedom to the American people. The question is if Dr. Fai has been lobbying for the last 20 years, why the US had not invoked the law for such a long time?
The arrest of Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai by the US authorities when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on Indian soil could be described as her gift to Indian leadership. Anyhow, India has welcomed Dr. Fai’s arrest, and Indian media carried features and articles on the subject.
Indian lobbyists work overtime in US, their military applies excessive force and their intelligence uses coercion to successfully maintain a stranglehold on the region. All of this is performed under the guise of Kashmir being an internal problem which should be resolved between the two neighbours.
In reality, the US has always steered clear of Kashmir other than reiterating support for a bilateral settlement between India and Pakistan on the issue. When President Obama first took office in 2008, he had called for a comprehensive regional solution linking Kashmir to problems on the Af-Pak border. However, the Indian lobby proved successful in getting the nation excluded and, furthermore, prevailed in pressuring the US not to mention Kashmir. So Obama, like his predecessors, caved in and the Indians got their way. During his visit, Obama reached a $10 billion trade deal with India in hopes of creating 50,000 new jobs. There is a strong possibility that Dr Fai actually was a victim to the ISI-CIA spat, which dominated most of the bygone year starting with the Raymond Davis episode in which the CIA agent shot to death two Pakistanis in one of the busiest road intersections of Lahore. Furthermore, ISAF attacked Salala Post on November 26, killing 24 soldiers that severed military relations between Pakistan and US. It also added pressure on to military and civil leadership. Army’s refusal to cow down to the US aggression and its retaliation by means of cutting supply route warranted response from US authorities. The charges against Dr Fai reek of discrimination and reflection of a cold shoulder by the US government for the UN sponsored Kashmiris right of self-determination. Fai’s organization has been working toward upholding the fundamental rights of Kashmiris and rightfully securing US congressional support for self-determination of the people of Kashmir as provided in United Nations Security resolutions; therefore no American law has been violated.
In a nutshell, the campaign and struggle of the Kashmiris will never end with the arrest of Dr. Fai, as people of Kashmir seem to be determined to take the struggle to the logical conclusion.