The names of many people who attended various conferences of ISI backed Ghulam Nabi Fai are now coming out in bits and pieces. Frankly, it is not a crime or sin to have attended Fai’s conferences. We have been having conferences with seditious speeches right in the heart of Delhi. Most of these prominent personalities have claimed not to have known Fai’s ISI links when they accepted his invitations on sponsored trips to these conferences. However, the writings and statements of some of the participants in the public domain will now come under scrutiny. If, for some reason, the FBI has managed to nail him only now it is obvious Fai wouldn’t go around advertising his real sponsors. At the same time it is just as hard to believe that these participants were naïve enough to not know Fai’s anti-India position on the Kashmir issue. Fai had also selected Indians whose views matched or supported his agenda in some ways. It is also strange that seasoned journalists and others who were in the Fai network never ever wondered how he got his funding and never bothered to ask. There is one particular journalist who was a participant and is currently playing an important role in the Kashmir issue: Dileep Padgaonkar.
"We are here to look for a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue...but a permanent solution is not possible without the involvement of Pakistan." That was the statement Dileep Padgaonkar made immediately after being appointed interlocutor for Kashmir. That statement had created quite some controversy but it will now be viewed in the light of the Fai revelations. From reports it also appears that his Fai connection has created some unease among other interlocutors.
It is worth reading the excerpt below from a news article:
“Fai, by contrast, was quiet, conservative, but well-heeled, which was bit of a mystery because he was not technically employed by the Pakistani government or its embassy (we know only now from the FBI that he was bankrolled by ISI through phony Pakistani-American donations)…….. He was a pleasant man, but he had shady written all over him.
I had a just one encounter with Fai early on, and it did not go well. He lectured me on Kashmiri history and hectored me on the atrocities by Indian forces. With collegiate insouciance, I told him I've much to learn about the history of Kashmir, but he could start by telling me origin of the name Kashmir and Srinagar. He got the point, turned red in the face, changed the subject, and collared me on the plebiscite issue. I asked if he thought Pakistan would abide by the terms of the UN Resolution (which required withdrawal of its forces from PoK and allowed India to keep minimum number of troops to maintain order). And would Pakistan be able to get back the areas of Kashmir it had ceded to China? And how about restoring the demographics of that time (ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri pundits was already underway), not to speak of the relative harmony that existed at that time? I was never invited to another Fai event…….I don't particularly share the current lynch mob perspective in India over the dozen or so eminence grise from India who attended Fai's gigs, and perhaps enjoyed his hospitality. You had to be daft not to realize that he peddled the Pakistani line on the Kashmir issue but it would have required extraordinary acuity to discern he was an ISI stooge.”
That was Chidanand Rajghatta writing in the Times of India. Rajghatta writes for the same journal that DP once headed as editor. Now, if he could sense something shady about Fai in one single encounter surely people like Padgaonkar aren’t so dumb as to not see something fishy about the guy.
There are other reports that the Indian foreign office was aware of Fai’s ISI connections for two decades now. Strange that many of the Indians who participated in his programs would have never spoken to the foreign office or the Indian embassy in the US. Prior to his emails it seems he used to send out hate-filled faxes and the Indian embassy in Washington had coined the term ‘fax-terrorism’ for him. Sounds funnier when you learn he was arrested in Fairfax, Virginia.
There are others like Rajinder Sachar, former judge and ‘Sachar Committee’ author of the ‘minority muslims’ report. Clearly, that report will now be suspect and for good reasons too. One of the best defences of the Fai connections came from Gautam Navlakha. On being asked about the junkets sponsored by Fai, Navlakha clarified that the travel was not by ‘business’ class but by ‘economy’ class. A long term enemy without cannot succeed much if we do not have enemies within. It is often referred to as ‘The fifth column’. Knowingly or unknowingly some Indians have indeed played the role of the fifth column. Some of Fai’s Indians may also have been paid for their speeches. Time will tell.
Padgaonkar’s utterances immediately on taking over as Kashmir interlocutor were already suspect. The Fai revelations have only added fuel to speculation about his “usefulness”! Given these events his position as an interlocutor in Kashmir is untenable. Padgaonkar must quit that post immediately.