Wednesday Oct 19, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Just five days before PTI Chairman Imran Khan disclosed the alleged regime change conspiracy, former ambassador Asad Majeed Khan — who was the architect behind the cypher — hired a lobbying firm to promote Pak-US relations.
After five months, Khan also hired the same firm Fenton/Arlook LLC in a bid to promote his party's image in the US.
Pakistan Embassy in Washington signed an agreement with the firm after hiring it on March 21, 2022.
As per the agreement, the embassy had to pay $30,000 monthly to the lobbying firm for its services. The agreement was initially signed for six months from March 21 to September 20, according to which the embassy had to make two months' advance payment.
Interestingly, on March 27, 2022 — five days after the signing of the agreement — the-then prime minister Imran Khan held a public rally and showed a copy of an alleged document related to a foreign conspiracy against his government.
Later, it was revealed that former Pakistani envoy Majeed had sent a cypher to the Imran-led government, indicating worsening relations between the two countries.
The cypher allegedly includes the minutes of the meeting held between the ambassador and US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu on March 7, 2022, two weeks before hiring the lobbying firm.
Five months later, in August 2022, Khan’s party also hired the services of the same firm that was hired by Majeed to promote PTI’s positive image in the states. The PTI, however, as per the agreement, paid $25,000 per month to the lobbying firm.
The PTI hired the lobbying firm to engage and consult with informed individuals in both the public and private sectors in the US and Pakistan to make determinations as to how constructive relations between the US and Pakistan might be enhanced and provide advice to the client and his associates as to how this might be accomplished.
Apart from the PTI and Pakistan Embassy in the United States, a nonprofit NGO council on Pakistan relations executed a verbal agreement with the same lobbying firm. According to the agreement, the firm would inform American and international media about the council’s desire for productive diplomatic and economic relations between Pakistan and the US.
The Fenton/Arlook LLC, according to the agreement with the embassy, was given the task of distributing information to and briefing journalists on Pakistan’s desire for positive relations with the US, placing articles and broadcasts, arranging interviews and advising on social media.
“Our public relations work with journalists aims to enhance positive relations between long-time allies Pakistan and the United States, and to explain Pakistan’s views. We aim to counter disinformation and promote investment and tourism. Our work is limited to standard public relations activities — distributing information, arranging background briefings with journalists, interviews, placing Opeds, etc,” the agreement reads.
The News sent a detailed questionnaire to ex-ambassador Majeed. However, despite a reminder and waiting for two days, he did not respond to the queries.