The latest idea of sending abroad dozens of envoys to promote Pakistan’s position on Kashmir has been met with mixed responses. Even the government has offered to make it a bi-partisan affair with opposition politicians involved, but still the opposition has expressed doubt about it.
For years, the establishment has tried to use diplomacy to shift international attitudes on Kashmir, but it hasn’t worked. Actually, the establishment’s attempts at influencing global opinion has done more harm than good. The case in point is the humiliation caused when ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai was exposed taking millions in secret funds to lobby the US on Kashmir. Instead of convincing anyone of anything, all this operation did was destroy any credibility of pro-Kashmir voices who are now nothing but suspected ISI agents.
Even after the embarrassment of the Ghulam Nabi Fai fiasco, certain quarters didn’t give up on the idea of sending spokesmen to make Pakistan’s case. Ahmed Quraishi has been sent on many paid junkets in Europe. Who can forget how well this strategy has worked?
The other problem is that the establishment wants to have its cake and eat it too. We want to convince the world that we are acting in support of human rights, but certain people can’t give up also acting in support of jihadi militants. Former Ambassador Husain Haqqani noted this perfectly: “Until Pakistan can demonstrate its complete disassociation with Jihadi terrorist groups, delegations like these will be nothing more than junkets”.
Pakistan does not have the credibility to defend the Kashmiri cause. Actually, our efforts are doing more harm than good. As Defence and Foreign policy analyst Maria Sultan notes, effective lobbying on Kashmir will have to come from independent Kashmiris. If we really want to see justice for Kashmir, we need to step aside and stop hurting their cause by trying to promote our own.
The important role of our countrymen living overseas cannot be overstated. In addition to sending billions back home in remittances, overseas Pakistanis are having a major influence in politics by funding political parties. However, it is not only influence inside Pakistan that is taking place. According to a new report, a shadowy organisation in London called the ‘World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis’ has arm-twisted Oxford University into canceling speaking invitations to Hamid Mir and Malala Yousafzai. This report is disturbing enough by itself, but it also raises questions about how certain vested interests may be using overseas Pakistanis to promote a particular agenda in foreign countries.
Neither is this the first time that he has been traveling the world this year:
Question is who is funding Ahmed Quraishi’s world travels? And who is arranging for his invitation to meetings with the United Nations? Ahmed Quraishi is not a Ph.D. in Kashmir or South Asian policy. It is not even known whether he has any degree at all. His background has always been as an amatuerish military stooge, not a policy expert.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that Mr Ahmed Quraishi’s ‘Youth Forum on Kashmir’ is taking such a prominent role following the unceremonious demise of another pro-Kashmir group? However whoever is funding Ahmed Quraishi’s globe trotting might want to consider what kind of return they are getting on their investment. Judging by the response he is receiving in Geneva, it might not be what they had bargained for.
Ghulam Nabi Fai is an American citizen of Kashmiri descent who was arrested by the FBI and pled guilty to charges of conspiracy in 2011 for secretly taking $3.5 million in ISI funding to lobby the US government on Kashmir. On Friday, Geo reported that Ghulam Nabi Fai ‘has been acquitted by a US court‘. This is incorrect: Fai was not acquitted by any court, only he was released a few months early after US government attorneys petitioned the court. The US judge agreed to release Fai early noting that “the defendant has rendered substantial assistance to the [US] government“.
“Upon consideration of the government’s motion for reduction of sentence and the court, after reviewing the record and hearing the arguments of counsel and having found that the defendant has rendered substantial assistance to the government, it is accordingly ordered that the government’s motion for reduction of sentence is granted,” District Judge Liarn O’Gra said in an order issued on Friday.
Express Tribune also reported Fai’s release and did not incorrectly report that he was ‘acquitted’. However, Express Tribune left out the important detail that Fai earned his early release by giving the US government ‘substantial assistance’.
What information Ghulam Nabi Fai gave to the US government in order to earn his early release from prison is not known.