By K.N. Pandita
In the court hearing at Alexandria Court House, Virginia, Washington DC on December 7, the 62-years old Dr. Sayed Ghulam Nabi Fai pleaded guilty to secretly receiving millions of dollars from Pakistan’s spy agency at the bidding of his handlers in Pakistan for 20 years and to tax evasion in contravention of financial transaction rules of the US.
He could not plead innocent to the charges brought against him by the FBI because the documentary and other proofs submitted by the prosecutors to the court are copious and irrefutable. He had no way but to plead guilty.
What for did Pakistan give him millions of dollars? FBI concludes that as a paid operative of ISI, he did the bidding of his handlers in Pakistan while he met with US elected officials, funded high-profile conferences and promoted Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir to decision-makers in Washington.
Deceptive device was forged to circumvent direct receipt of huge funds from Pakistan government. In close collaboration with Pakistani spy agency, he recruited people to act as ’straw’ donors who would give money to his NGO Kashmiri American Council (KAC), which really was coming from the Pakistani government. The donated money would be reimbursed to the ‘straw’ donors through one Zaheer Ahmad, an accomplice of Fai but actually an ISI agent, who remains untraceable. Fai wrote letters to the ‘straw’ donors to mark their remittances as ’charitable donations’ failing which these would be subject to tax deductions…
FBI claims Fai made false statements and told lies to cover up the fake transactions so as to give it some legal semblance. For example, Fai told FBI agents in March 2007 that he had never met anyone from the ISI and in July 2011, he had falsely denied to FBI agents that he or the KAC received money from the ISI or government of Pakistan.
In fact, Fai repeatedly submitted annual KAC strategy reports and budgetary requirements to Pakistani government officials for approval. For instance, in 2009, Fai sent the ISI a document entitled ‘Plan of Action of KAC / Kashmir Centre, Washington, D.C., for the Fiscal Year 2010,’ which itemized KAC’s 2010 budget request of $658,000 and listed his plans to secure US congressional support for US action in support of Kashmir’s right to self-determination.
Fai admitted that, from 1990 until about July 18, 2011, he conspired with others to obtain money from officials employed by the government of Pakistan, including the ISI, for the operation of the KAC in the United States.
According to court documents, Fai accepted the transfer at least $3.5 million to the KAC from the ISI and the government of Pakistan through Pakistani American co-accused Zaheer Ahmad and middlemen (straw donors), who received reimbursement from Ahmad for their purported ‘donations’ to the KAC.
Fai graduated KAC by opening the branches of Kashmir Centre in Brussels and in London. The Brussels branch is conducted by Barrister Tramboo (originally from Srinagar) and the London branch by Prof. Shawl originally from Baramulla. The success through money power of the Brussels branch of Kashmir Centre can be gauged by how it managed to scuttle the original report on Kashmir by the European Union representative nominee Emma Nicholson.
On the same day, Fai issued a lengthy statement distributed into four parts, viz. (a) Why Kashmir is important to me? (b) The Policy of the Kashmiri American Council (c) Who I represent, and (d) Conclusion. In this statement, he has tried to endear himself to Kashmiris by projecting them as oppressed and depressed, and hence invokes the sympathy of the Untied States administration and civil society. Apart from this, there is the same rhetoric as we hear from Pakistanis, viz. the UN Resolutions, plebiscite, right to self-determination, human rights violations etc.
The statement is essentially a desperate attempt by the beleaguered Fai to tell Kashmiris that he has been obtaining huge funds from Pakistan to push the case of Kashmir’s freedom in world assemblies. He wants to tell defiant Kashmiris subtly that he has been robbing Pakistan for their cause and not for any self aggrandizement, which though he feels may or may not work with skeptic Kashmiris at the end of the day. He strengthens his contention by referring to several of his articles published in various American papers like Washington Times, Boston Globe, and Quarterly Magazine etc.
In order to substantiate his premise, he claims to have tried to strike balance by handling the Indians as well. Examine this excerpt from his statement under reference: “The most important constituency which we have to address is not United States, not Pakistan, not elsewhere, but India itself. Meeting with Indian officials was fundamental to my strategy in communicating with New Delhi to find the means by which we as Kashmiri Americans could contribute to peace in that part of the world and in resolving the crisis in Kashmir. During the past twenty years, I along with Ambassador Yusuf Buch, former Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General and late Dr. Ayub Thuker, President, World Kashmir Freedom Movement, have met with various Indian Cabinet Ministers, belonging to the administrations of Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and current Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. And during the past eleven years, I also met with four different officials at the Indian embassy who succeeded each other periodically and introduced me to the new incoming official before leaving for a new post.
It has always been my habit to keep the channel of communication open to the Indian embassy. I have met with the officials of Indian embassy in Washington since 1999, sometimes monthly, sometimes bi-monthly. From March 2006 onward we met monthly and at times twice a month. Whenever we had a seminar or a conference on Kashmir I would invite the Indian ambassador to speak. I had a habit of exchanging information and establishing the details in advance with an official of the embassy, and then a final copy of the invitation for the ambassador would be given to the official, whom I usually met at a public cafeteria. An Indian official called me either on July 18 or July 19, 2011, the day I was arrested. He left a voicemail that we must meet, which I heard ten days later after my release.”
Insertion of these two paragraphs in his statement in reference to Indian interlocutors is done with the purpose of conveying very subtly to his Pakistani handlers that he has been trying to buy the Indian spy agency operatives and perhaps some high ups as well to promote Pakistan’s standpoint.
In final analysis, Kashmir separatists may realize what harm Fai and others like him have done to their so-called cause of freedom movement. The US and the world are convinced that the “freedom struggle” is only a mask behind which lie the nefarious designs of Pakistan. Fai has vexed eloquent on Kashmir’s so-called communal harmony but speaks not a word of killing of hundreds of innocent members of Kashmir religious minority and their total ethnic cleansing from Kashmir. He claims to be repudiating the stand of both India and Pakistan, but has no qualms of conscience in accepting huge monies from Pakistan…
The concluding paragraph of Fai’s press statement is revealing. He philosophizes as this: “If one party to a solution feels exploited or unfairly treated, then national sentiments to undo the settlement will naturally swell”. This is how he justifies externally sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. And to perpetuate the pro-terrorist philosophy, he became a pawn in the hands of his Pakistani handlers. Who is responsible for the death and destruction of thousands of innocent Kashmiris?