Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a staunch and ardent supporter of the Kashmiri cause, is an American citizen of Kashmiri origin, from Indian Occupied Kashmir.
He was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on July 19, 2011 for allegedly accepting monetary support from Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to lobby and influence the US government on the Kashmir conflict in violation of Foreign Agents Registration Act. His arrest came at a time when relations between Pakistan and the United States were already strained in the aftermath of the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Dr. Fai, who has been pillar of strength for the Kashmiri cause, organizing seminar, roundtable discussions and colloquiums for creating awareness in the world regarding the sad plight of the Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir, is a harmless person, devoting his life to the cause of his downtrodden brethren.
The United States of America, which is a melting pot of different ethnic origins, has been magnanimous in welcoming them. In fact, the Statue of Liberty, located at the mouth of New York harbor on Ellis Island, faces outward toward the nations, holding aloft the torch of freedom, the flame of hope, the promise of the future. She holds this torch high in the daytime and during the night as well. She shines her light in the midst of darkness. This symbol of freedom and hope was presented by the people of France to the people of the United States in 1886 in honor of the friendship between the two nations. Yet, the Statue belongs to all people. Her message is universal, speaking to the hearts of those who cherish freedom everywhere.
Liberty’s image is one of strength, majesty, and hope, visible in her eternally raised right arm which carries the torch of freedom. Holding aloft a light that never fails, she represents hope to the hopeless, welcome to the poor, courage to the meek. Facing outward toward the ocean, her lamp is a beacon on stormy seas, drawing to her shores, those from afar who seek a better life. For these, and for countless others who embrace her message, the Statue of Liberty represents the Golden Door, which is the entrance into liberty and freedom from oppression that is the promise of America—a land, a people, a way of life. It is also the freedom of spirit and of choice that was declared an inalienable right in the US Declaration of Independence—a document whose date of execution, July 4th, 1776, is inscribed on the tablet she carries. The Statue welcomes all to this door—the lost, the needy, the rejected, and the exiled. She invites them to step through it into freedom. Immortalized in the poem of Emma Lazarus, the Statue speaks eternally the words of compassion: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These words from the “The New Colossus,” written in 1883, appear on the Statue’s pedestal.
For a nation, committed to the oppressed and downtrodden, victimizing Dr. Ghulam Nabi, a dedicated and unswerving freedom fighter is extremely contemptible. The decision to arrest Dr. Fai was taken while the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was touring India. It is apparent that the famed social worker was taken into custody only to please India. The overtures to the latest US paramour India have compelled it to take a number of unpleasant decisions, to woo it. Pakistan has been victimized and targeted while Kashmiri freedom fighters are now being incarcerated at the behest of India. The US is forgetting that Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai was also in contact with Indian diplomats and other officials. Besides carrying out activities with their involvement, he has also been gathering their support in organizing various Kashmir related functions. This does not make Dr. Fai a criminal. On December 7, 2011 Fai pleaded guilty to felony, conspiracy and tax evasion charges, but not for being an ISI agent.
The action against Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai has exposed US sincerity towards resolution of Kashmir Issue. President Obama, during his run up to the US presidential elections, had taken cognizance of the Kashmir issue and had promised that if elected, he would use his good offices to help resolve the flashpoint of Kashmir imbroglio, which has the potential of erupting into a war between nuclear weapons equipped India and Pakistan. The rivals have gone to war thrice during the last six and half decades and been on the brink of war on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, President Obama reneged on his promise to help resolve the Kashmir issue and cut the Gordian’s knot and bring peace into the region. When President Obama visited India, he was presented a petition signed by 4500 persons including the Kashmiri Diaspora and parliamentarians from the UK and US but Obama chose to disregard the petition.
A legal question that arises is that in case, US law was being breached, why US authorities have taken so long to take action against Dr. Fai. It is now amply clear that the Indo-US nexus has chosen to victimize Dr. Fai a harmless human being only to pressurize Pakistan. His arrest was condemned by separatist Kashmiri leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani who called his arrest “a conspiracy by India to weaken the freedom struggle in Kashmir”.
The sentencing of Dr. Fai is scheduled for March 2012. Fai faces a five year sentence for the conspiracy charge and an additional three years for tax evasion. As part of his guilty plea, Fai signed an 81-paragraph “Statement of Fact” cataloging his crimes, with specific details as to the instructions and payments he received. The US judicial system should take into cognizance, that in pursuit of drawing US and international attention towards the trampling of Kashmiris’ rights, Dr. Fai had obtained the support of US legislators and parliamentarians like Dan Burton, Joseph R. Pitts and others. To single out Dr. Fai for victimizing him and incarcerating him for pursuing his noble mission is despicable.