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Extraditing Fai's aide to US from Pak tough: Report

Source: PTI
July 21, 2011 18:20 IST
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The United States will find it difficult to seek extradition of a Pakistani-American doctor, accused of playing a key role in a plot to funnel Inter-Services Intelligence's cash into the US, from Pakistan, as he is a "respected figure" and owns one of the leading hospitals in Islamabad, according to a media report.

Zaheer Ahmad, 63, an American citizen who is currently believed to be in Pakistan, was charged on Wednesday in the US along with Kashmiri separatist leader Ghulam Nabi Fai with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Pakistani government. Ahmad runs the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad, ProPublica reported.

An unnamed US official confirmed to ProPublica that the man identified in court papers as Zaheer Ahmad is the same person who runs Shifa International Hospital.

Ahmad is also the chairman of the Tameer-e-Millat Foundation, founded in 1987 to help educate Pakistani children. The address for Ahmad in US election campaign records is the same as one of the Brooklyn addresses for a doctor named Zaheer Ahmad, who founded Shifa International Hospital in

Islamabad after finishing his medical residency in the US and moving back to Pakistan in 1985, ProPublica reported.

"Ahmad's position in Pakistan highlights how difficult it will be to extradite him to the US to face charges, and if the allegations in the Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit are true, it illustrates the ISI's reach into the upper echelons of Pakistan's elite," the report said.

"It's unlikely Pakistan will extradite Ahmad, especially considering the charges of Pakistan government's involvement and his position," it said.

The Shifa International Hospital is the Pakistani capital's best-equipped healthcare facility and is used by staff of most foreign missions, including the Indian High Commission.

The charges against both Fai, the head of the Kashmiri American Centre, and Ahmad men are punishable with up to five years in prison. In an affidavit filed in court, the FBI has alleged that Pakistani intelligence transferred large sums of money to Ahmad, who passed the funds through intermediaries to the Kashmiri American Council and Fai.

The Pakistani intelligence funnelled at least $ 4 million to Fai since the mid-1990s and the money was allegedly spent on organising conferences and campaign donations to American lawmakers to influence US policy on the Kashmir issue.

The affidavit alleged the funds were provided by the ISI. The money from Pakistan was moved through a network of "straw donors" in the US comprising Pakistani doctors and businessmen.

Fai's main handlers were two ISI officials, the affidavit said. They communicated regularly with Ahmad, whose email account had contact information for Javeed Aziz Khan, allegedly the main ISI handler for Fai, the affidavit said.

A Brooklyn doctor who knew Ahmad told ProPublica he was not aware of the allegations but doubted that he could be connected to any case involving the ISI. "I've known him many years. He's an impressive person. He built a very good hospital," said Tajammal Gilani.

Fai's case has come at a time of intense strain in US-Pakistan relations, particularly ties between the spy agencies of the two countries. Earlier this month, the US administration decided to suspend $ 800 million in military assistance to Pakistan.



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