WASHINGTON: A Pakistani national has pleaded guilty to working for Pakistan in the United States without registering himself as a foreign agent.
Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry, a 71-year-old dentist, of Columbia, Maryland, pleaded guilty on Monday to the charge that he failed to file a foreign agent registration statement, although he has been working as one.
Lobbying for a foreign government is not illegal in the US but all lobbyists are required to register with the US Justice Department as foreign agents. There are more than 4,000 such foreign agents in Washington.
Chaudhry is a Pakistani national and a long-time, lawful permanent resident of the US.
The plea agreement, partly released by the Justice Department, says that Chaudhry represented himself to be the President of the Pakistan-American League, an unincorporated entity he created and associated with his residential address in Maryland.
The league, which is now divided into various factions, is holding its annual meeting on Capitol Hill this week with the aim to promote better relations between Pakistan and the US, a charge repeatedly mentioned in the guilty plea.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan would be chief guest and Pakistan Ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry would address the first session.
The plea agreement says: “Chaudhry failed to file a registration statement with the Attorney General, as required by law, providing notification of his activities on behalf of the government of Pakistan.” It added Chaudhry “falsely represented that his activities in relation to Pakistan were solely educational in nature and executed for the benign purpose of encouraging better ties between the US and Pakistan”.
In the plea agreement, Chaudhary admits that from 2012 through 2018, he acted as an agent of the government of Pakistan “in order to engage in political activities for, and in the interests of, the government of Pakistan”.
These activities were “designed by Chaudhry to obtain and manage information on the status of the US government’s policies regarding Pakistan and to influence US government officials and US foreign policy towards Pakistan,” the document claims.
A statement released by the US Justice Department claims that Chaudhry interacted on a routine basis with representatives of the Pakistan government at their embassy in Washington and consular office in New York City. Chaudhry also interacted with numerous think-tanks in and around Washington that played a role in shaping and influencing US foreign policy.
Chaudhry faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. US District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for July 30, 2018, at 2pm in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2018