By Radha Vinod Raju
Ghulam Nabi Fai, the American of Kashmiri origin, who was charged with working for Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to influence American policy on Kashmir, was sentenced to two years in jail by a US court. Fai, 62, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release after the end of his jail term by the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC. Fai was also ordered not to maintain any contact with the officials and agents of the government of Pakistan and the ISI. He was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 19 last year and had pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy and one count of corruptly endeavouring to impede the Internal Revenue Service. Fai headed an outfit called Kashmiri American Council (KAC), which was “a front” for ISI to lobby US government, lawmakers and opinion-makers on Kashmir, on the directions of his ISI handlers.
Fai had admitted that the KAC received money from the ISI and other Pakistani government agencies but had not disclosed about the origins of the funds. His plea agreement says that he concealed at least US$ 3.5 million sent to the lobbying group between 1990 and 2011. US prosecutors were quoted in a sentencing memorandum that Fai “laboured mightily” to hide his association with the ISI and the sentencing guidelines “do not even purport to measure the harm caused by Fai’s concealment of the fact that the influence he peddled through his conferences and campaign contributions was financed by the ISI.” According to court records Fai organised conferences, contributed to candidates and met with congressional officials about unifying Kashmir. Fai was cheating the American people by pretending that the funds for those efforts came from American citizens. In a seven-page letter to O’Grady, the Judge who sentenced him, Fai said his commitment to peace in Kashmir led to his crimes. “The reason for going astray of US law was that I was passionate about freedom for the Kashmiri people,” Fai wrote. The question is, was he passionate about the freedom of the Kashmiri people, or only about merging Kashmir with Pakistan?
There is now evidence that Fai, who was born in Budgam district of Kashmir valley, was a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami. The strong nexus of the Jamaat-e-Islami of Kashmir with the ISI is well known. Pakistani academics and journalists like Hussain Haqqani and Arif Jamal have given detailed accounts in their books, ‘Pakistan Between the Mosque and the Military and Shadow War: The untold story of jihad in Kashmir,’ of how General Zia ul-Haq had met with Jamaat leaders of Kashmir and invited them to work with the ISI. The strategy was very clear- unleash a jihad in Kashmir, using the Hizbul Mujahideen, the armed wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, and use the Kashmiri Jamaat-e-Islami to garner support for Pakistan by appealing to disaffected Muslims in India. There is evidence that senior Jamaat leaders travelled from Kashmir to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and even to Kerala for this purpose-and that was much before the Babri Masjid destruction. The place visited in Kerala was a charity home in Quilon. Abdul Nasser Ma-Adani was running a charity home in Quilon at that time! We are yet to understand the extent of damage Ma-Adani has caused to our secular fabric. It indeed was an ambitious plan to inflict a thousand cuts on India.
India went through a turbulent period in the early, mid, and late nineties, and has come out much more strong and robust through economic development. Pakistan has, in the meantime, spiralled into chaos, itself a victim of terrorism that it was using against neighbours. But dominated by its Army, Pakistan doesn’t appear to have learned any lesson from its own experiences, and refuses to wind up the terrorist infrastructure in that country. While the bounty announced by the US Government on the heads of Hafeez Sayeed, the LeT patron and his brother-in-law and deputy Abdul Rehman Makki may only be symbolic, for it is difficult to think of an Abbotabad type operation to knock out Sayeed, or even a Drone attack in Lahore, there was no such problem for the US authorities in sending Ghulam Nabi Fai to jail for his crime. It is clear as daylight that Fai was playing a significant role in getting speakers from Pakistan and India on ISI’s directions to participate in conferences on Kashmir in the United States, carefully choosing the Indian lot from among the liberals. It is a pity that our liberals do not see the ISI’s game. After this exposure, it appears that Ghulam Nabi Fai will be of no use to the Pakistanis. Except for a few voices of support for his ‘diplomatic’ efforts in highlighting the Kashmir issue, there was no indication of any support to this Kahmiri ‘nationalist’ either from our part of Kashmir, or from the other side. This may very well mark the end of the Ghulam Nabi Fai show.
Radha Vinod Raju
Distinguished Fellow, IPCS and Former Director General, National Investigation Agency (NIA)
email: [email protected]