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The fall of Robin Raphel

Robin Raphel, former US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia and India’s long time foe is now under a counter-intelligence probe. According to media reports from Washington DC, the investigation involves allegations of spying on behalf of foreign governments. If the charges are proven, then it would hold that Ms Robin was not just India’s enemy; she was a foe to her own country as well.

That she acted on behalf of Pakistan and against India is well-documented. What was frustrating was that New Delhi could not convince USA that Robin Raphel was devious and a danger to peace in the region and she harmed American interests too. Besides being Assistant Secretary of State under President Clinton, the evil genius also served in the CIA, USAID in Islamabad, political counselor in New Delhi, and was married (subsequently divorced) to the American ambassador in Pakistan, Arnold Raphel, who died in the plane crash that killed General Zia-ul Haq in 1988. She was also part of the Af-Pak task force of late Richard Holbrooke, another India-baiter in Washington DC.

That Robin Raphel, former US diplomat and expert on Pakistan, acted on behalf of Pakistan and against India is well-documented. What was frustrating was that New Delhi could not convince USA that Raphel was devious and a danger to peace in the region and she harmed American interests too. Pic/Getty Images
That Robin Raphel, former US diplomat and expert on Pakistan, acted on behalf of Pakistan and against India is well-documented. What was frustrating was that New Delhi could not convince USA that Raphel was devious and a danger to peace in the region and she harmed American interests too. Pic/Getty Images

Raphel’s pathological anti-India moves continued through her career right till last week when her State department privileges were taken away pending results of the espionage enquiry. Raphel is the Godmother of the Hurriyat Conference. To provide a political face to Kashmiri militancy, she got the Hurriyat together and gave them international ‘legitimacy’. She gave birth to the term ‘disputed territory’ for Kashmir and harmed India’s interest like no other US official has ever done. Every Indian diplomat or civil servant who has worked on the Americas, UN, Kashmir, or internal security desk in the New Delhi has a Robin Raphel story to tell – of how she vitiated India-US relations, how she added fuel to fire in Kashmir in the 1990s, and how she played the Pakistan card openly, even when she was posted in India as a US representative. Was it just loyalty and love for Pakistan or something more? As per reports, the ongoing US investigation will ascertain if she was on a foreign government payroll when serving her country in official capacity.

Who turned her in? There is a lot of speculation with a number of theories being floated around. Whoever did, a huge Thank You from India! Hopefully this Godmother of the Taliban and Hurriyat will be proven guilty of espionage and more, which will see her in the slammer or else sentenced to community service and a hefty fine. In the least, her career as a lobbyist is canned.

Some reports say unnamed Indian officials, some say “powerful Indian-Americans”, and still others say that investigations into foreign funds for banned organisations flagged suspicious deposits which led to Raphel’s doorsteps. Washington grapevine has it that Raphel’s friends have shut their doors. Her family has appointed a public relations firm and she isn’t answering questions. Her home has been searched and she has been shamed. Pakistani commentators on TV have been saying, “This is not good news” while back in the suburbs of New Delhi, retired government officials are letting out whoops of joy. If Robinji is rendered ineffective for the future, it is time indeed for us to celebrate.

Just as we celebrated when another India baiter based in Washington DC, Ghulam Nabi Fai was prosecuted in 2011 for receiving ISI funds via ‘straw donors’. Fai’s ‘Kashmir American Council’ was actually a Pakistan forum, which tarnished India’s reputation on a constant basis. Fai had pleaded guilt to conspiracy and tax evasion and was awarded a two year sentence in 2013. But strangely, he was suddenly released from jail in November last. Did Fai squeal on Raphel? Did he give information to tax authorities on illegal transfers or information passed on by Raphel?

On Friday, a neurosurgeon Dr Saeed Bajwa, appeared in the US District Court in Eastern Virginia and pleaded guilty to a federal charge of making a false statement to the FBI related to money he donated to the Kashmiri American Council, run by Ghulam Nabi Fai. Prosecutors said Pakistani origin Bajwa was one of 10 “straw donors” who made ‘donations’ on behalf of ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence service that has spent 20 years covertly attempting to push US foreign policy against India, especially on Kashmir.

Incidentally Fai is back in operation in the American capital. Foes like him find some Godfather or Godmother to back their faux cause. But times have changed, both in India and Washington DC. It would be better if Pakistan confronted this reality.

Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash

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