Pakistan Protests US Arrest of Alleged Agent

Posted July 21st, 2011 at 3:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The Pakistani government is protesting the arrest in the United States of a man accused of acting as a Pakistani agent tasked to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan.

In a statement issued Thursday, Pakistan said a demarche was made to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to register its concerns, especially regarding what it called “the slander campaign against Pakistan.” Pakistan's Embassy in Washington also is investigating the matter.

U.S. authorities detained Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, the executive director of the Kashmiri American Council, on Tuesday and charged him with being an unregistered agent of a foreign government. The U.S. Department of Justice says Fai lobbied American lawmakers on Kashmir using $4 million from the Pakistani government, including the country's military spy agency.

Islamabad said in its statement that Fai's organization has been working toward “upholding [the] fundamental rights of Kashmiris” and that Kashmiris “appreciate and applaud its services.”

As head of the Kashmiri American Council, Fai advocated against Indian rule in Kashmir, which is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan.

Muslim separatists have called for the region's independence from India or its merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan. Thousands have been killed in insurgency-related violence since the late 1980s.

On Wednesday, Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said Fai's arrest was carried out at the behest of India as part of a diplomatic conspiracy. He and other separatists called a strike in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Friday to protest the arrest.