WASHINGTON: The US chapter of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has hired a second lobbying firm in the United States to make Americans aware of the threat to Imran Khan’s life, a senior party leader said.

The move highlights PTI’s efforts to win over sympathies for the former prime minister in Washington where he is not very popular. This also is a major departure from the party’s previous policy of blaming the Biden administration for its ouster from the government in April last year.

Documents filed with the US Justice Department show that the PTI, USA, signed a contract with a Washington-based lobbying firm, Praia Consultants LLC, on Feb 21 this year for six months. The contract can be renewed for another six-month term with mutual consent. The New York-based PTI USA is the principal client of the lobbying firm which will receive $8,333 per month.

Under the contract, the firm “shall provide expert advice regarding the client’s relationship with the US government and institutions”. The firm shall also “organise meetings with several key US decision-makers and will provide guidance in terms of the content of the meetings”.

Sherry says move has exposed party’s ‘double standards and hypocrisy’

Although signed almost a month ago, the PTI kept quiet on this agreement until Wednesday when Pakistan’s former US ambassador Hussain Haqqani posted a copy of the contract on his Twitter handle.

His comments annoyed Atif Khan, adviser to PTI chairman on overseas affairs, who also publicly acknowledged the contract. “What we are paying the firm, does not come from Pakistan. It’s our money that we are spending to protect Imran Khan,” he wrote.

“The firm will help us in making Americans aware of the threat to Mr Khan’s life,” he told Dawn.

‘Double standards’

Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman slammed the PTI for signing the agreement with a US lobbying firm, saying it exposed the party’s “double standards and hypocrisy”, APP reported.

The minister said many countries appoint lobbyists, and so do political parties, but this case was particularly bizarre because it came from a party that attempted to pose itself as a [political] martyr of the “US meddling”.

“If that was the case, why are they now locked in a desperate attempt to buy the influence of the US decision-makers after the failure of the ‘Cipher Conspiracy’ narrative and earlier lobbying efforts? PTI’s double standards and U-turns have been exposed many times,” she said on Twitter.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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