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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

Kashmir separatists to protest against Fai's arrest by FBI

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, July 20, 2011
First Published: 17:47 IST(20/7/2011) | Last Updated: 21:21 IST(20/7/2011)

Separatists in Kashmir will protest on Friday the arrest of Kashmir American Council head Ghulam Nabi Fai by the FBI on charges of receiving illegal funds from Pakistan to the tune of $4 million to tilt US Congressmen's opinion in favour of right to self determination for Kashmiris.

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"The arrest of Fai by the FBI in a false case was carried out at the behest of India under a well thought out conspiracy. The sole aim is to weaken the Kashmir’s struggle for freedom at diplomatic level," alleged hardline Hurriyat head Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Fai, who was charged by FBI for violating US law that requires lobbyists for foreign countries to register with the Justice Department, is a Kashmir-born American citizen and a close confidante of most separatist leaders, including moderate and hardline Hurriyat chairmen Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

The hardline Hurriyat on Wednesday asked people of Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Kashmiri diaspora "to lodge severe protest against the arrest and the ill-designs of India to suppress the Kashmir movement". The arrests come as the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is on a visit to India.

The citizenship of Fai is now at the core of conflict as the US media claims him to be a Pakistani. Fai was born in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district and completed his graduation from Srinagar’s Sri Pratap college in 1971 before studying on a scholarship in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and finally completed a PhD in mass communications from Temple University, Pennsylvania. 

Fai, once a Jamaat-e-Islami member in Srinagar, is well-known lobbyist for Kashmir’s self-determination and is working since 1990s with close relations with several Congressmen. He has organized several rallies and conferences on Kashmir issue in the US.

"Fai has been lobbying for Kashmir all his life with thrust on a particular line and was quite active. He has been close to Pakistan government. I have met Fai on several occasions in the US. He has been host to separatist leaders like the Mirwaiz," chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told the Hindustan Times on phone from New Delhi. Habibullah wrote a paper on Kashmir in 1994 with a US think tank.

In his last statement issued on July 13 in Washington, Fai appealed to US president Obama to intervene "in the Kashmir problem".

Fai discounted the US hopes that the Kashmir dispute could be settled through bilateral peaceful talks between India and Pakistan. “There has been a litany of failed bilateral efforts. The people of Kashmir have steadfastly maintained that tripartite talks are the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue. The people of Kashmir are committed to finding a just and lasting peace to the disputed territory of Kashmir through negotiations between Governments of India & Pakistan and the accredited leadership of J-K,” said Fai.

Last week, the London-based newspaper Guardian revealed how the CIA funded an extensive fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was living, in order to obtain DNA samples from inside his house. According to the newspaper, Fai's arrest may come to be seen as a tit-for-tat reprisal for the victimisation of several Pakistanis who participated in that vaccination programme.

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