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Washington to London: An inside account of how Pakistan’s deep state grooms ISI mouthpieces

When Pakistan does not have professional lobbyists to do its bidding, it deploys local goons to disrupt events across the world.

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How does Pakistan’s deep state continue to influence debate around the world? By deploying people to disrupt public events, of course. Let me explain how this happens.

I appeared recently on a television programme filmed at the Newseum in Washington DC that promised to the tell the “whole truth” about US-Pakistan relations. Ordinarily, I would have asked about the composition of the panel but, in this case, I did not because I assumed the effort was credible because the show was tied to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

I regretted this lapse as soon as I walked into the green room where I met my two co-panellists. One was a retired, senior American diplomat with long ties to South Asia who, in retirement, briefly became a lobbyist for Pakistan. The other was a wealthy Pakistani-American physician serving as a current lobbyist who uses his wealth to influence American policy towards countries of interest. He also is the sole US representation for former, disgraced Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, which he claims to do pro bono.

Also read: India needs to start winning the diplomatic war with Pakistan

Both the past and current lobbyist reiterated tired canards that are empirically falsifiable. Doctor Sahab asserted Pakistan’s inalienable right to Kashmir and said that the Maharaja of Kashmir was obliged—as opposed to encouraged—to choose either Pakistan or India based upon geography and demography. Not only is this untrue, but Kashmir could have also have gone either way based upon these considerations. He repeated the absurd narrative about the “plebiscite” and rebuffed my efforts to explain what the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions actually say and the host similarly silenced me from clarifying basic facts.

With two soloists belting out songs from the ISI playlist, I was outnumbered. Any ingénue unaware of South Asian politics would assume I was the one dispensing deceits. Afterwards, I expressed my irritation with the producer for his choice of a registered lobbyist who promulgated rank fictions. He retorted that “everyone has their own facts”.

As I left the studio, I wondered how this programme came to be. After a perusal of the show’s previous episodes, I found that Doctor Sahab was a frequent guest on an array of topics about which he has no substantive expertise other than being a well-healed Pakistani-American. I suspect that this programme came about in part because he suggested it. After all, that is what lobbyists do: they create opportunities to lobby.

When Pakistan does not have professional lobbyists to do its bidding, it deploys local goons to disrupt events that provide platforms for discussion that undermine Pakistan’s well-groomed fictions. At a recent event in London at which I was presenting, a recurring uncouth bully disrupted the entire programme. After calling me a misogynist epithet, I insisted that he be removed initially to no avail. Since many attendees told me that I was the reason for their attendance, I refused to speak until security removed him from the venue.

I knew his ruses: last year, the same organisation hosted me, and this same buffoon deported himself similarly. Upon being ousted, and just as I was to about to speak, the banished wag pulled the fire alarm. Despite this, we all reassembled and I gave my presentation on Pakistani cross-border terrorism.

Also read: Pakistani ISI threatens, forces away guests at Indian government iftar in Islamabad

It turns out that the same reprobate did this to disrupt the presentation of a popular politician from the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which has the boys in Pindi in a swivet. To my horror, I learned that this past year “British Pakistani Patriots” attempted to throw acid on Baloch activists decrying the crimes of Pakistan’s deep state in the United Kingdom. Notably, it has been my vast personal experience, that Pakistan’s embassies regularly deploy miscreants to disrupt public events in global capitals. During an event hosted by Hussain Haqqani at the Hudson Institution in 2017, the Pakistan embassy actually dispatched a van of rabble-rousers to create a ruckus at the event. Many of these fellows—and they are almost always men—were escorted from the premises.

When Pakistan’s friends are unable to manufacture Pakistan-friendly forums or disrupt others, they resort to slandering participants in their sponsored media. ISI-hacks of no journalistic credentials whatsoever, who were not even present, frequently write bilious accounts of the programmes based on webcasts or recordings, with the intent of crowd-sourcing troll armies to threaten the target and, in some cases, to persuade employers to fire offending individuals who dare speak historical truth to Pakistan’s murderous mendacities.

It is not a coincidence that most of the major think tanks in Washington DC are populated with persons who rarely criticise the deep state. The Stimson Center’s Michael Krepon happily pens articles promoting the false equivalence between India and Pakistan, even after India has been victimised by Pakistan-backed terrorist attacks. Toby Dalton and George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote a similarly “both sides are the problem” article after Pakistani terrorists attacked Indian security forces in 2016, and precipitated Modi’s much-popularised and aggrandised “cross-border strike”. Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center never misses the opportunity the defend or minimise the most outrageous crimes of the Pakistani state. And Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute not only happily bans Hussain Haqqani, Aparna Pande and me from his events, but also makes any number of claims that advance the interests of the deep state at these events and the events of others, which he attends. Notably, all of these scholars’ organisations enjoy public subsidies as they are all tax-exempt (501(c)(3) institutions.

Of course, the most heinous offender of defending Pakistani equities at the expense of America’s own ironically is the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), which is directly paid for by US taxpayers. USIP’s Moeed Yusuf endlessly does Pakistan’s bidding on our dime. He is joined by a long-time Pakistan-apologist from the George W. Bush administration, Steve Hadley. The USIP even had the temerity to decline a Freedom of Information Request from a DC-based Indian journalist who requested all communications from both of these persons with the Pakistan embassy arguing that such communications are part of the “inter-agency and intra-agency” processes

Just how does Pakistan ensure the lockstep goose-stepping of such persons? Surprisingly, the deep state cultivates this stable of obedient interlocutors in Washington and elsewhere without putting anyone on its payroll. How does it do this? By bartering visas and access to the deep state in exchange for “good behaviour” and “good press.”

Also read: Pakistani generals want to restore their golden era & that’s why Musharraf’s team is back

Not only do these visa-hungry so-called scholars host deep-state friendly events, many have willingly followed the diktat from the Pakistan embassy to explicitly exclude critics of the Pakistan army. Officials at the American National Defense University have conceded to me and to other journalists that I—along with Husain Haqqani—am banned at the insistence of the Pakistan Embassy. When someone at the National War College did not heed this guidance, an enormous hungama ensued. The Pakistan embassy demarched the War College when it learned that I would be discussing Pakistan’s pernicious role in undermining US interests in Afghanistan. This is the American War College. American military and civilian personnel have been slaughtered by the proxies of Pakistan and yet it allows the Pakistan Embassy to dictate who it invites to speak at their functions.

This was not always the case with me. Despite my various criticism of the deep state, I was welcomed in Pakistan and regularly enjoyed access to officials in the government as well as officers in the military. While I was never a cheerleader for Pakistan, Pakistan valued me as an independent thinker who carries water for no one and is willing to say unpleasant things to everyone. This changed in 2011. One of the ISI spymasters—who ironically facilitated many of my previous meetings—explained that the ISI would now only patronise those who would do its bidding. In other words, only those who would dance to the deep state’s kazoo would be welcome, which I refused to do.

I want to ask my colleagues at these “think-tanks” who happily trade their integrity for access to Pakistan, how many lives is your visa worth? How many lives are as valuable as your much-desired meeting with the army chief, ISI chief or a few corps commanders? We all know what you get in these meetings are notebooks full of lies. (I have an entire shelf of such lie-festooned notebooks.) What you get is the social cache of such meetings as they have little other utility. So, why do you happily sell your soul to these con artists? What is the crime your patron will commit that will persuade you to develop gonadal fortitude and resist that VIP lounge in Pindi? While you may not care that your handlers are also slaughtering Indians, Afghans and even Pakistanis, perhaps you should look long and hard at the thousands of Americans who have been felled by the murderers in Pindi. If you can’t do that, know that the red carpet they roll out for you is stained red with the blood of hundreds of thousands of persons shed by the very institutions you so willingly propitiate and defend, not for money but for a visa and a full schedule of sham meetings with which you regale friends, colleagues and US officials back home.

C. Christine Fair is the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

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  1. How could you know that those spineless folks are supporting Pakistan for visas alone? Most people don’t give such support without packets passing under the table.

  2. Ma’am thanks for the incisive article . a failed state needs to be exposed at all fronts . At one hand Pakistan is carrying begging bowl to IMF and at the same time it is waging a proxy war sown by well heeled and entrenched ISI and army . It’s mechanisation have disrupted the growth of burgeoning state . We want you to bring out the mechanisation that lead to incremental failure and isolation of Pakistan.

  3. Muhammad Asif is yet another troll of the ISI and his writing reflect his fees paid by his master’s. His reference to partition plan of India and plebecite is flawed as he has not bothered to read U N Security Council resolution 47. His insistence of Pakistan’s claim of J&K is an outright lie. His writing reflect his Hinduphobic mindset and as a responsible news media ‘The print’ should expunge his comments.

  4. India is a superpower. It’s focus is the wider world at large. Modi government is moving towards achieving a 10-trillion economy by 2030. Pakistan is a shithole! In fact, we stopped giving a rat’s arrsss about Pakistan long long ago. Let them live in self-induced ignorance and delusion.

  5. I think the comment writers have well entrenched views and very fondly say give logical arguments instead of harsh words but themselves are allergic to same logic. Just see the greatness and piercing logic of this writer who straight away starts by saying ” Goons” to those who support view point of Pakistan but lobbyists are sages. What can be done with such biased people? Then one the comment writer says Modi is back and keep ready your Diapers. Please understand that this boasting is an indication of frustration and helplessness. Haven’t they seen what mighty superpower faced in Vietnam or Russia & USA in Afghanistan. This approach will lead to nothing except bitterness followed by some destructive act. Do you think India is doing right in Kashmir? How can you support a tyrant state which backtrack and broke an international treaty i.e. denying right of self determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. How shameful that India violated the Partition of India plan approved by the Queen of Erstwhile Great Britain. Then Indian dirty politics and intrigues in Erstwhile East Pakistan led to breakaway of E. Pakistan as Bangladesh. Do you think Pakistan to should pray for such cunning and dangerous neighbour( ENEMY)? The writers first word goon degrades it to third rated lacky if one controls his full anger. Where is logic in her article except reflection of fees she received from her employer. Shameful and disgusting.

    • Just typing eloquently doesn’t hide your intellectual shallowness and lack of basic comprehension. She clearly calls out the ‘Goons’ by their actions and lack of capabilities to debate her on valid arguments. There are ample examples of such behavior which actually correlates to the way you have gone with your verbal diarrhea. The comment on Modi is in the comment section and not by the author. As far as Kashmir’ is concerned, please read through the agreement on clauses of withdrawal from illegally occupied POK before any referendum bus done.

    • Muhammad:
      Read the UN resolution on Kashmir. It calls for Pakistan FIRST to vacate areas it invaded. As for East pakistan – indulge in some introspection and try to understand what caused the crisis in the first place. Every country takes an opportunity to help itself. Something Pakistan did gleefully in J@K and then Afghanistan.

  6. Author’s whole criticism and anguish is based on the underlying fact that as a ‘prosessional’ Indian Lobbyist, she has been put against unprofessional ‘goons’
    who are giving her tough time in justifying and doing her job effectively. Her whinning is helarious 😂😂😂

    Print will u publish this comment, really?

    • “Helarious”? You must be kidding!. As for professional lobbyists – Pakistan also has lots of them but their modus operandi is anything but “prfessional”.

  7. The people mentioned in the article should be held accountable, named and shamed for aiding ISI in ruining Pakistan! Thanks Christine Fair for getting these names on record so that the world knows them. These individuals and institutions they represent have no credibility left! Well, Pakistan is also wasting money on these people who can just create ruckus and nothing else. No one cares! And good that Modi is in power to take these people on.

  8. By writing her seminal ‘Fighting to the end: The Pakistan army’s way of war’, C. Christine Fair has done a great favour to India’s military think tank. Her book should act as a guiding light for setting expectations from any India-Pakistan talks. She minces no words, and exposes not just Pakistan’s psychology but also its intangible, covert invisible hand that exists only to harm India in one way or another. For anyone who yearns for and dreams of peace between India and Pakistan should read her arguments, for example, “Even if Pakistan were to undergo a permanent democratic transition in which civilians shape foreign and domestic policies, it does not obviously follow that the civilians would abandon the policy of persistent revisionism with respect to India.” (Fair, 2014: 265).

  9. Admire your courage madam for calling them out. India has been lazy to counter this well heeled lobby groups. USIP should be made accountable to US taxpayers!

    • Javed (from Kashmir really? ),
      What’s a BC? Is it something you are ashamed to write in full?
      Coz the BC I know means “before Christ” and
      that certainly does not fit in the context here.

      Also instead of commenting on the person who wrote that article, try articulating your thoughts on the article’s content.

    • Coming from a country and sick culture where most of the marriages are among the first cousin, how nice of her to call her a BC?
      A pakistani wedding card should read, BChodi mubark ho!! As most of the marriages are between first cousins, otherwise known as siblings in rest of the civilized world!!

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