Washington: Separatist Kashmiri leader,
Ghulam Nabi Fai, who according to the FBI was a paid agent of
the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, had roped
in several eminent Indian journalists and intellectuals during
his more than two decades of high-profile operations.
Kashmir-born and educated at the Aligarh Muslim
University, Fai even managed get them in the drafting
committee of his annual event "International Kashmir Peace
Fai, 62, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of
Investigations (FBI) from his house in Fairfax in Virginia, an
affluent suburb of Washington D.C., on charges of receiving
hundreds and thousands of dollars from the ISI and using them
for lobbying at the Capitol Hill and holding seminars and
According to the 43-page FBI affidavit submitted to a
US court, the ISI not only funded his Kashmir American Council
(KAC), which was run from its headquartered in Washington, but
also dictated his speeches, determined who was to be invited
to the conferences and even the results.
The five-member drafting committee of the resolution
adopted by the two-day conference from July 29th-30th, 2010
included the eminent Indian journalist and former Indian High
Commissioner to Britain, Kuldip Nayar, former Pakistan
Ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, according to a
press release issued by Fai on July 30, 2010.
The conference, held in the prestigious Gold Room of
the Rayburn House at the Capitol, was on "India-Pakistan
Relations: Breaking the Deadlock over Kashmir".
The resolution titled "Washington Declaration" said
the participants "unanimously" expressed grave concern over
the "deteriorating" human rights situation in Kashmir and
urged the Indian government to withdraw its armed forces from
civilian populated areas. It also sought an impartial
commission to investigate "killings" in a transparent manner.
According to another press release issued by the
Kashmiri American Council for its annual 2010 conference the
participants included Justice (Retd) Rajinder Sachar,
journalist Harinder Baweja, Ved Bhasin, Editor-in-Chief of
`Kashmir Times`, Gautam Navlakha, Editor, `Economic and
But his conferences were always Pakistan-centric and
were heavy with anti-India agenda.
In its invitation sent to the press before the event,
KAC listed the Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, as
an invitee. But Indian Ambassadors never participated in its
conferences as they always knew who KAC was working for.
One of the purposes of inviting eminent Indian
journalists and intellectuals was to gain some kind of
legitimacy for KAC, highly placed Indian sources said, adding
that some of the Indian invitees could have been taken for a
ride by KAC.
However, many journalists and intellectuals did not
fall into the ISI trap. For instance for the 2010 annual
conference, Siddharth Varadrajan of `The Hindu` was listed as
a panel speaker. He did not turn up, informing the organisers
that he was bogged down in another pressing assignment.
"I made some enquiries and decided not to attend," he
said today when asked about his decision.
Among others in the drafting committee as members for
the 2009 resolutions were Bhasin and Navlakha. In both the
drafting committees, Fai was listed as a member in his
capacity as the host.
The "Washington Declaration" issued at the conclusion
of the two-day KAC conference at the Capitol Hill on July
23-24 urged the United States Congress to persuade the US
Administration to support the appointment of a special United
Nations envoy to Kashmir.
According to an overview of the KAC conference sent to
the media after the 2009 event by Fai, Bhasin was quoted as
advocating for Kashmir as an independent state in South Asia.
"The only solution is an independent state in South
Asia. The status quo is not a solution; the division of the
state is not a solution," Bhasin was quoted as saying.
Reacting to this, Bhasin said over phone today, "my
policy to attend these conferences was to present my point of
view with an objective of peace between India and Pakistan and
a solution to Kashmir problem which satisfies the people (of
Kashmir) and India and Pakistan".
On the issues of his reported advocacy of independent
Kashmir State, Bhasin refused to comment.
He also said he was not aware that ISI had any links
with conferences organised by Fai.
"I was told that Kashmir diaspora in the US and other
countries abroad were funding it through contributions," he
Speaking in the session, `When Peaceful Protests Fail,
What Next?`, Navlakha, editorial consultant of the EPW,
reportedly warned that if the aspirations of Kashmiris
continued to be ignored, the armed struggle could start.
In his reaction, Navlakha defended his participation
and his position on the Army`s role in Kashmir saying it is a
When asked about the association of Fai with the ISI,
he countered, "Was there a way to find out this? This is only
an allegation which needs to be proven in the court. Let`s see
how this transpires."
When contacted, Kuldip Nayar said today that he did
not have slightest of idea that the organisers of the
conference were linked with ISI.
"Even representative from Indian Mission was present
in the conference. I presented my point of view that Kashmir
should remain with India and we can discuss for resolution of
in a way acceptable to people of Kashmir and India and
Pakistan," Nayar said.
He said he was "surprised" to find out that Fai is
alleged to be a "spy" of Pakistan.
"The conference was organised in Capitol Hill with
senators, congressmen and eminent people attending it. I had
told the Indian Mission that I was going for this conference
but they did not tell me about any links that Fai had with
ISI," he said.
Journalist Harinder Baweja was quoted in the media as
saying that Fai was not under investigation at the time of
conference else US authorities would not have permitted him to
hold the conference on the Capitol Hill. She said that she had
gone there as a journalist and there was nothing wrong in
Varadarajan, who skipped the conference, said "I made
enquiries and when I learnt more about Fai`s connections, I
decided to keep away".
However, he said his decision should not be seen as
passing judgement on anyone who went.