Fai Brigade Says Kashmir Will Burn If He Is Sidelined

Fai Brigade Says Kashmir Will Burn If He Is Sidelined

27 July 2011
Times of India
Chidanand Rajghatta

Washington DC: Animated sub-continental political discourse outside a Washington DC area courtroom accompanied legal wrangles inside in the case involving Kashmiri propagandist Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was remanded to house arrest on Tuesday pending trial on charges of being an unregistered Pakistani agent. Undeterred by courtroom submission that Fai was largely funded by the Pakistan's quasi-terrorist spy agency ISI and toed the Pakistani line on the Kashmir issue, his supporters maintained he was the 'voice' of the Kashmiri people and had acted independently. U.S government cables have referred to ISI as a terrorist-supporting entity. Khurran Walid, an attorney retained by the Fai family, went so far as to compare Fai to Nelson Mandela, raising snickers among a large media contingent. Glossing over specific charges in the FBI affidavit, including the money trail from Pakistan, the Fai brigade said the activist's arrest was part of a larger political conspiracy by the U.S to corner Pakistan and undermine the Kashmir issue. 'This is really a political case,' the Florida-based Walid said, who made the first defense presentation in court ahead of the Washington DC-based Nina Goldberg, said. One supporter, who gave his name as Sardar Zubair Khan from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, warned that Fai's incarceration would not be good for the region because he had taken the movement towards a non-violent path, implicitly suggesting that hard-line militants would gain ascendancy if Fai is sidelined. Others invoked the possible role of India's intelligence agency RAW in Fai's arrest. In a statement attributed to Fai, the propagandist pledged to continue his activism in the 'days, weeks, months and years to come' given his 'lifelong commitment to the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their religious background and cultural affiliations to help achieve the right of self-determination to decide their future.' He also expressed confidence in U.S policies and processes, saying 'the people of Kashmir have no reason to fear that the world powers in general, and the United States in particular, will let them down.' While Fai and his supporters maintained that their activism in U.S remained relevant given the 'traditional bipartisan expression of support' in Washington for India and Pakistan to resolve the issue of Kashmir 'after taking into account the wishes and aspirations of the people,' there's simply no appetite in the capital for wading into another sticky mess. The broad sentiment is that changes in Kashmir's geography, demography, ethnography and other factors make any past resolutions irrelevant. Indeed, U.S legal and law-enforcement personnel appeared to have little time for the region's political wrangles. Judge John Anderson cut into a rambling political disquisition by Walid, curtly telling him 'It'd better be less than a minute,' when the counsel sought one more minute to establish its salience. The prosecution side sought to focus attention on the specific charges of Fai being an unregistered foreign agent who funneled in money from ISI while the defense went into the political background. The cynosure of all eyes in the courtroom and outside was Fai's wife Chang Ning Ying Q, a federal government worker who made no secret of her support for her husband's work. She made a brief speech in the corridors of the court building thanking his supporters for coming, inviting them for dinner, and asking them to pray to god for 'justice' to the people of Kashmir.


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