Will Pakistan Hiring a Lobbyist for Kashmiris Really Help Kashmir Cause in U.S.?

One and a half years after India revoked Article 370 (the article that granted special rights to Indian Kashmir),  Pakistan has been unable despite its best efforts to convince the majority of the global community, the greater Muslim world, and the United States to apply pressure on India.

To re-start this process of applying pressure on India, the Pakistani government has hired Carin Jodha Fischer, a Washington-based activist, and her two lobbying firms, Chinar Consulting and Kashmir Action Network.

Bilal Ahmed, a politician from Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s ruling Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party signed two one year-long contracts worth a total of $7,000 a month with Fischer’s firms. According to FARA filings, both these firms were founded in October 2020. Fischer is a German-American activist who is a habitual presence at events in Washington DC denouncing Indian policies in the region.

The Chinar contract “calls on Fischer to conduct government, media and public relations involving “working on coalition funding, counterterrorism, foreign policy, and political forecasting initiatives.” On the other hand, Kashmir Action Network’s role “will focus on “grassroots lobbying to raise awareness about the complete absence of civil and democratic rights, the shrinking political rights, and the absolute crushing of the will and determination of the Kashmiri people.” Both contracts call on Fischer to liaise with the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington.

Fischer is the latest addition to Pakistan’s foreign influence operations in the U.S. The Embassy of Pakistan continues to “retain Houston-based Linden Government Solutions on an unusual pro bono contract allows the firm to try to collect payment from the diaspora community. The embassy extended its contract with Linden earlier this month for another three months until April 15, 2021.”

Further, many US-based groups affiliated with the ruling Tahreek-e-Insaf party have also in the recent months registered under FARA.

Fischer’s contracts are not the first such contracts by the government of Pakistan. In 2019 the Houston-based International Humanitarian Foundation, an organization that calls for Kashmiri independence, signed a $50,000 contract with New York public relations firm Fenton Communications ahead of Prime Minister Khan’s September visit to the US for the UN General Assembly.

Author: Sohail Ahmed

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Author: Sohail Ahmed