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Where Was I, Dr. Fai?
|by Rajinder Puri|
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a US citizen, has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for illegally influencing US Congressmen to oppose India on Kashmir by using funds received from Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Several leading US politicians who carried on a campaign against India’s Kashmir policy claim that they were unaware of Dr. Fai’s links with Islamabad. Upon learning of his links some have donated the funds received from him to charity. Dr. Fai broke US law by not registering himself as a lobbyist for Pakistan. That is why he was arrested and his racket is busted.
For two decades Dr. Fai was perceived as a Kashmiri settled in the US, committed to self determination for Kashmir. Dr. Fai did his Masters from Aligarh University and spent four years in Saudi Arabia where he was accompanied by Dr. Ayub Thakur who later founded the World Kashmir Freedom Movement in Britain. Dr. Ayub Thakur incidentally was one of the main London conduits for the illegal funds involved in the Jain Hawala case. Doctor Fai left his wife in Kashmir and got married again in the US to a Chinese Muslim. Dr. Fai’s views were liberal. His expression was restrained. He headed the Kashmiri American Council (KAC), which functioned as an NGO in America. He held annual seminars, hosted Kashmir separatists, most likely was a conduit for even funding some, and invited Indian liberals to his seminars held in the US by providing hospitality and travel expenses.
The intermingling of Indian liberals with Kashmir separatists gave legitimacy to the latter. The cream of Indian liberals including Mr. Kuldip Nayar, Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Mr. Gautam Navlakha and many others attended his seminars some time or the other. They all perceived Dr. Fai to be a likeminded liberal seeking self determination for Kashmir. Most of them may not themselves have endorsed self determination. They sought democracy, better governance and perhaps more autonomy for Kashmir. But by interacting with separatists they most likely thought they could influence them to stay within India. Honest Indian liberals were considered soft targets by the ISI. Even though they sought only more liberal democracy they provided useful legitimacy to the separatists demanding outright secession.
The KAC apart from hosting seminars also distributed a newsletter through email. I was a recipient of some of their emails. In 2009 Dr. Fai wrote an article in favour of self determination. He considered the UN resolution on Plebiscite as being outdated but cleverly endorsed its spirit to demand self determination feasible in the current context. In other words the preconditions of the UN resolution that would have crippled Pakistan were to be ignored while a plebiscite to allow Kashmir independence was being supported.
Although I am perhaps the only news commentator to have persistently advocated self determination for the five separate segments of undivided Kashmir, giving each segment the option of joining India, Pakistan or achieving independence, I never merited an invitation from KAC. I grant that I lack the prominence of the aforesaid liberals who were invited. But considering that I was actually demanding self determination, and that I did merit the newsletter emailed by KAC, why was I ignored? My demand for self determination was unacceptable because added to it were two important caveats. Along with self determination for all segments of undivided Kashmir I insisted as precondition upon joint defence between India and Pakistan, and also the establishment of a South Asian Union comprising all parts of Kashmir regardless of their status after the proposed self determination. That was the crux.
An independent Valley within a South Asian Union is one thing. An independent Valley in the current political arrangement is something altogether different. In that event the Valley would be gobbled up by China with even greater ease than was Pakistan.
Former President Musharraf came closer to the mark by demanding joint management by India and Pakistan over two autonomous parts of divided Kashmir given soft borders. But that too was unacceptable because without joint defence and complete trust between New Delhi and Islamabad the proposal was unworkable. I wrote as much. But all these formulations appear irrelevant now.
The FBI must have known for years the connection between KAC and ISI. Why have they acted now? For the same reason that the Murdoch bubble burst in Britain. For the same reason that Hillary Clinton is urging India to take a lead in Asia. For too long nationalist forces in the American establishment have allowed the US corporate lobby to collude with China to subvert democracy and exploit the world. Now the nationalists are fighting back. One does not know how the fight will end. One does not know how long it will last. But one does smell change in the air.
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