Sunday 24 October 2021, 06:03 AM
Pakistan is desperate to sabotage Modi''s mega event in USA
By Nilova Roy Chaudhury | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 9/22/2019 4:18:48 PM
Pakistan is desperate to sabotage Modi''s mega event in USA

Pakistan, which has received little international traction with its efforts to raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in global forums, particularly after the Indian government chose to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and better integrate the border state with the rest of India, is desperate to somehow disrupt Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public event “Howdy, Modi!” in Houston.

Sunday’s “Howdy, Modi!” event, organised by the Texas-India Forum, in which Prime Minister Modi will address the hugely successful Indian American community, is his third such public event in the US since he assumed office in 2014, and the largest yet, with 50,000 people due to attend. The event is attracting enormous attention additionally because, for the first time ever, US President Donald Trump will join Mr Modi at the event in Houston, in a clear endorsement of the strength of the India – US relationship. It will also serve as an endorsement by Mr Trump of the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir and reduce Pakistan’s diplomatic overdrive to some peripheral, attention-seeking noise.

For Islamabad, President Trump’s decision to join Mr Modi at the event is a major source of embarrassment and anger. Exactly two months ago, on July 22, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was being feted by Mr Trump in the White House and, in the presence of global media, even got the US President to offer to mediate in Jammu & Kashmir. Mr Khan was praised for his help in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeared to be riding very high in US perception.

Mr Trump’s decision to call off the US-Taliban peace deal for Afghanistan this month again moved Pakistan to the margins, allowing Pakistan to do what it does best; be disruptive. Before Imran Khan’s US visit, the Pakistan embassy in Washington hired a lobbying firm, Holland & Knight, represented by Tom Reynolds, former Republican congressman from New York, who left the US Congress after his name surfaced in a financial scandal related to the Republican Congressional Committee and controversy with a ring of paedophiles.

Despite its grim financial situation, Islamabad signed the multi-million dollar contract to ensure effective representation of its interests in Washington, after bilateral relations reached an all-time low. The Pakistani embassy had no lobbyist in Washington DC for six years and relations had reached a nadir under Mr Trump.The way Holland & Knight, with Reynolds and other former senior administration officials handled Mr Khan’s visit indicated that Islamabad had chosen well; he got favourable coverage across US media and praise from the administration and President Trump. He returned to Pakistan as a hero. Until August 5, when India abrogated Article 370. Pakistan’s lobbyists contacted all congressmen and got Democratic party presidential contender Bernie Sanders, among others, to issue statements against the Indian government’s move.

An Indian-origin Congressman Ro (Rohit) Khanna, a California Democrat, who recently joined the Pakistan Caucus in the U.S. Congress, said he would not leave the Pakistan caucus (a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen who choose to do advocacy for particular countries in Washington) despite demands from Indian-American organizations. Khanna is also member of the Congressional Caucus of India, the largest country caucus. He will not be in Houston on Sunday.When news of Mr Trump joining Mr Modi at Houston emerged, along with the official lobbyists, Pakistan brought out its own forces, including the discredited and outlawed ‘Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) lobby.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the legal advisor for the SFJ, banned in India, has initiated a move by a previously unknown organization, the ‘Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front’, to sue the Indian Prime Minister in a Houston federal court on September 19. The plaintiffs, a pair of “Kashmiris” who have not disclosed their identity, allege that the “unilateral annexation Aug. 5 of their homeland” caused the detention, disappearance and deaths of their loved ones amid ongoing repression. The 73-page lawsuit has been filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 - a federal statute that allows civil suits on US soil against foreign officials.

Pannu and other protesters, including Sikhs on tractors and Muslims rounded up from mosques around Houston, plan to serve the summons on Mr Modi at the NRG stadium venue. Outside NRG Stadium, a red signboard urges protesters to “Stand with Kashmir, stand with humanity.” However, given the kind of security arrangements made, particularly with the US President also there, it is certain that disruptions will be kept away. For the Indian Embassy in Washington and Consulate in Houston, this “lawsuit” is just additional paperwork, to contact the State Department to issue a blanket waiver and immunity for the visiting dignitary.

This is a typically Pakistani move; create a new entity comprising members of banned older entities and try to cause disruption. Failing to get support on Kashmir, Pakistan has created and funded the ‘Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front’, putting these elements together.India banned the SFJ in July after Pakistan insisted on including SFJ leader Gopal Chawla, a Khalistani with links to Lashkar-e-Toiba head Hafeez Sayeed, in the Kartarpur corridor talks.
Popular Punjabi singer Diljit Dosanjh cancelled his Houston concert, promoted and funded by a Pakistani to attract a bigger crowd of Pakistani supporters.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan has also reached USA, after visiting Saudi Arabia. The main purpose of his visit is to highlight the issue of Kashmir. According to Pakistani lobbyists, Khan will be “the voice of the Kashmiri people at the United Nations.” However, with the added worry of the looming UN FATF meeting in October, Pakistan now only plans to “peacefully” protest.In Houston, Mr Modi met Kashmiri Pandits and Sikh leaders and assured them that his government would work to ensure development would flow to J&K. His entire focus during his US visit would be to outline his vision for development. India’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, asked about Pakistan’s efforts to disrupt Mr Modi’s visit, said, “They may stoop low, we soar high."
 

Tags:

Howdy,Modi,Texas-India Forum,Pakistan,Houston,Afghanistan,Democratic,Holland,NRG

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