Global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, headed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategist Mark Penn, has quietly ended a two-year relationship with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — the ruling party of Pakistan, the Politico website reported on Monday.
The termination of the contract would mean that opposition researchers dredging up tough questions for Hillary’s Secretary of State confirmation hearings have just lost a key piece of ammunition, the article said.
The questions could have been awkward for Hillary both politically and substantively, since she will have to manage relationships both with the Pakistanis and their cross-border rivals in India, it said.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had signed the most recent version of the contract with Burson-Marsteller in January 2007, it said.
While Burson-Marsteller’s work appears to have ended well before last month’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, it is still listed as an active foreign agent for Pakistan in documents on file with the US Department of Justice.
Hillary, the article said, owes more than $5 million to Penn Schoen & Berland Associates for its work on behalf of her presidential campaign.
“Penn’s market research company is no longer working for Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton. But the state of the personal relationship between Penn and Clinton is harder to pin down,” it said.
According to terms of the contract, the article said, Burson-Marsteller promised it would promote credible “third-party” supporters of Pakistan, recruiting such backers from the ranks of “former US government officials involved with Pakistan during their tenure”, “Academics and think tank experts”, and “Pakistani Americans in influential positions.”