A Pakistani doctor implicated in a plot by Pakistani intelligence to influence American policy on Kashmir runs some of Pakistan's foremost hospitals, reports investigative news website ProPublica.
The doctor, Zaheer Ahmad, is an American living in Pakistan and heads the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad. He founded the hospital after completing his medical residency in the United States and moving back to Pakistan in 1985. Ahmad also runs the Tameer-e-Millat Foundation that helps educate Pakistan's underprivileged children.
Ahmad was charged in a criminal complaint Wednesday with conspiring to illegally funnel millions of dollars from Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to U.S. lawmakers to influence their position on Kashmir, a hotly disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
Also charged is Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC), a Washington-based advocacy group. Ahmad is accused of moving money from Pakistan to KAC through a network of "straw donors" in the United States, the complaint said. The intermediaries got tax deductions for contributions they made to KAC and were reimbursed later by Ahmad in Pakistan.
Pakistan spent at least $4 million propping up the KAC, the complaint said, with some years' budgets reaching $500,000 to cover conferences, campaign contributions and other costs.
The complaint mentions an "Elected Official A" who got $2,000 in campaign contributions from Ahmad on Sept. 13, 2004. According to campaign finance records, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., received $2,000 from Ahmad in 2004. Soon after receiving the contribution, Pitts introduced legislation in Congress calling for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict.
In an interview with the New York Times, Pitts said that he was not unaware KAC was an ISI front group and was distressed at allegations that his position on Kashmir may have been dictated by the intelligence agency.
"I don't like to be used by anybody," Pitts said. "It is very upsetting."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who also received funding from the KAC, said his call for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute was based on his own beliefs and the necessity to avoid war in the region.
"The whole world ought to be concerned about the potential for war between India and Pakistan," Kucinich said.
Dan Burton, R-Ind., who received more than $10,000 from Fai, has introduced legislation over the years that threatened to terminate humanitarian aid to India unless human rights atrocities in Kashmir improved.
The lawmakers denied any knowledge of ISI involvement in KAC lobbying efforts in United State and the complaint made a point of saying there is no evidence to the contrary.