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Saturday, August 20, 2011

U.S. Charges Two Men with Illegal Lobbying for Pakistan

Two Pakistani-American men were charged Tuesday with being on the payroll of Pakistan’s ISI and illegally lobbying the U.S. government over the issue of Kashmir on behalf of Pakistan, according to reports. The men are charged in connection with a front group in the United States that Pakistani intelligence has allegedly operated for 20 years, funneling money to lawmakers and lobbying Congress and the White House.

One of the men charged, Syed Fai, lives in Virginia and was arrested on Tuesday. The other, Zaheer Ahmad, is in Pakistan and is being sought. Fai is the director of the Kashmiri American Council, which the FBI alleges is financed by the Pakistani military to lobby U.S. lawmakers against India’s control over much of Kashmir. The FBI alleges that “Fai and his council received more than $4 million from the Pakistani government since the mid-1990s. The FBI said that in 2009, the council’s projected budget called for $100,000 in contributions to members of Congress,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Ahmad is alleged to have organized contributors to the council in Pakistan, who would then be reimbursed by Pakistan’s military.

The allegations come at a tense moment in U.S.-Pakistan relations, which have deteriorated since the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the diplomatic stand-off over the arrest of a CIA contractor in Pakistan earlier this year.

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