A Day with Dr Fai
Malik Nadeem Abid
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai who is serving 2 terms of 2 years in a Federal Prison located in beautiful town of Cumberland in State of Maryland (approx. 6 hours drive away from New York). The sentencing started in July 2012 and will end in July 2014 as court ordered both terms to run parallel. Hopefully, if all goes well Insha Allah, Dr. Fai will be sent home on parole in December 2013 and shall serve balance 6 months at home.
Unfortunately, facts about Dr. Fai’s case are not correctly reported in the media and we should try to keep the record straight. Based on false reporting of Indian media, it was claimed that Dr. Fai was sentenced for “Spying for Pakistan”. So, let me share the truth with your readers: The US Federal Government charged Dr. Fai with following allegations:
1. Working as agent of a foreign government (spying),
2. Operating lobbying business & trying to influence elected officials, without registration with Attorney General’s office
3. Tax Evasion
4. Money Laundering
5. Lying to Federal Agents when they asked about his ties to ISI Officials
According to the Court Records, FBI read approx. 400,000 emails and listened to approx 100,000 hours of conversation during ongoing investigation against Dr. Fai. With all those monitoring, Feds could not prove the allegation of spying for Pakistan as the only conversation/ communication Dr. Fai ever had was about peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. So the charges of spying were dropped. As a plea bargain, Dr. Fai pleaded guilty to two charges, i.e Tax Evasion and Lying to Federal Agents and other two charges were dropped as well. Once the jail term finishes, Dr. Fai will be allowed to continue working on Kashmir cause and in fact based on observations of honorable judge, Dr. Fai is allowed to write articles, do research and work on Kashmir issue. Many of his articles have been published in leading national & international journals written in the jail cell.
I drove approx. 7 hours to meet my good friend in Cumberland, MD. Cumberland is a beautiful town surrounded by lush green mountains, streams and small lakes. The prison is called “minimum security prison camp”. Unlike normal jails, there are no tall walls or barbed wires surrounding the jail. It’s a nice, clean and beautifully landscaped property where you can see from outside the inmates jogging or walking on the tracks. Those people who are educated and don’t have any violent crime or past history are sent to this type of facility. Once you leave your car in the parking lot and enter the building, you don’t have to go through security check or body search etc…..yes, I mean it. You just walk into the meeting room and a security guard checks your appointment in the system and then asks you to fill out a one page form asking if you have any weapon, drug or even cell phone. Certainly these things are not allowed inside the meeting area. Then he calls the inmate and you spend as much time with inmate as you wish (within visiting hours). I spent almost all day with Fai sahib.
It was after few months I was meeting Fai sahib and when he entered the meeting room, we hugged for several minutes…..quietly. He was wearing green safari suite & brown undershirt which is the inmate uniform. For next several hours we talked about almost everything from family affairs (both his & mine), Pakistani politics, Kashmiri friends in New York and situation in the valley. As a part of prison manual, every inmate has to perform some work (mushaqqat). Due to Fai Saheb’s education and research work, he is not assigned to perform physical work. Instead, he is given assignment in the prison chapel and he reads books, does research and helps Muslim inmates with their religious issues. So far, Fai sahib has written 5000 pages containing his memoir about Kashmir struggle.
Fai sahib was very keen to know the future political set-up of Pakistan as it would determine the direction of the Kashmir movement. He also asked me if I was in any way in touch with Mian Nawaz Sharif or Imran Khan, in case they need briefing on Kashmir. I told him that I did not have any direct contact with either of them but have talked about the recommendations on Kashmir Policy with close allies of both of them. He also asked about stability of AJK government and whether any change is expected in AJK. My response was that no immediate change is foreseen. Dr. Fai was also very keen to know how the situation in IOK was. I told him that Human Rights violations, torture, arrests & extra-judicial killings were still going on. He prayed for the safety and security of everyone in IOK and a peaceful resolution of Kashmir.
Fai sahib also suggested me to personally get in touch with Syed Ali Shah Gilani Sahib, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabbir Ahmad Shah and and work with them. I shall be trying to reach out to these leaders and offer my assistance in absence of Fai Sahib. I also briefed Fai Sahib about great efforts of Sardar Ali Shahnawaz Khan in Europe.
We had lunch and afternoon snacks together and left Fai sahib later in the afternoon with a heavy heart. May Allah grant him the strength to be steadfast, Aameen.
Lastly, well wishers of Kashmir can write me at my below given email id so that any one´s message can be forwarded to Fai Sahib as soon as possible. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org