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India-baiting US diplomat Robin Raphel under probe

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: November 07, 2014 12:17 IST
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‘It's unclear whether she is the target of the investigation, or what agents were searching for. The officials said it is an ongoing investigation and no charges have been filed,’ reports CNN.com, while the Post adds that “the exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged.’

Veteran American diplomat Robin Raphel, known for her strong pro-Pakistan leanings, has been placed under federal counter intelligence investigation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the homes of Raphel and also her State Department office, which has been sealed, according to media reports.

At the time of raids, she was an advisor on Pakistan in the Office of Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department. Her contract with the State Department expired last week.

It is unclear whether she is the target of the investigation, or what agents were searching for.

"We are aware of this law enforcement matter. The State Department has been cooperating with our law enforcement colleagues," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Raphel is "no longer a department employee," she added.

In 1993, she was appointed as America's first Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

She later served as the US Ambassador to Tunisia and in the 2000s, was appointed to or held a number of official positions related to her expertise on South Asia.

She was also posted in Britain and India.

According to the Washington Post, which first reported about it, US officials acknowledged that the FBI conducted a search at Raphel's home on October 21 but would not provide details of the search.

Agents removed bags and boxes from the home, but it is not clear what was seized there or at her office.

At the State Department, Raphel's office remained dark and locked, the daily said.

After her retirement and before returning to the State Department, Raphel worked as a lobbyist for Cassidy & Associates, a Washington-based government relations firm.

She represented Pakistan, Equatorial Guinea and Iraq's Kurdistan regional government, according to federal disclosure forms.

‘Espionage cases involving State Department officials are relatively rare,’ the daily reported.

Because of her stand on Kashmir and pro-Pakistan leanings, Raphel was extremely unpopular in India.

In his book Diplomatic Channels, former Indian Foreign Secretary Kris Srinivasan, released in 2012, wrote that the Research and Analysis Wing snooped on a telephone conversation of Raphel which confirmed that the US would not back a draft resolution against India on Kashmir moved by Pakistan at the United Nations, and therefore

it would fail to proceed any further.

Our bureau adds:

Raphel is considered a Pakistan expert, but as the Washington Post reports, ‘although Raphel has spent much of her career on Pakistan issues, it was unknown whether the investigation, being run by the FBI’s Washington field office, was related to her work with that country.’

'It's unclear whether she is the target of the investigation, or what agents were searching for. The officials said it is an ongoing investigation and no charges have been filed,' reports CNN.com, while the Post adds that "the exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged.'

Raphel, a retired career diplomat, was an adviser to the Barack Obama administration on Pakistan, functioning under a limited, renewable contract to US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. She also had the power to administer non-military aid and economic grants.

The 67-year-old former diplomat was married to ambassador Arnold Raphel, who was killed along with former Pakistan president Zia ul Haq in an air crash in 1988. At the time of the accident the couple was already separated.

Raphel, a long-time diplomat, was among her country’s senior advisors on Pakistan and South Asia.

Raphel gained notoriety in the 1990s in India when, as assistant secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration she got Jammu and Kashmir declared as a ‘disputed territory’, and called for the dispute to be resolved as per the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Image: Robin Raphel: Courtesy: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Also read:

Robin Raphel: Both India and Pakistan are under strong domestic political pressure not to been seen as giving in to the other

'No change in US Kashmir policy'

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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