US bends rules, India-baiter Raphel named for Pak aid job

Robin raphel

The US decision to appoint Robin Raphel as coordinator for non-military aid to Pakistan has run into controversy over conflict of interest with latest disclosures from a lobbying firm where she worked earlier clearly stating that she had been an active lobbyist for Pakistan until a few days before her appointment.

This goes against US President Barack Obama's code of ethics and the revolving-door ban that the White House put out a day after he took charge. According to this, lobbyists entering the US government will not involve themselves for at least the next two years with issues that they have lobbied for during the past two years in their previous employment.

A known pro-Pakistan diplomat from the 1990s when she was Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Raphel rubbed India the wrong way when she categorised Kashmir as "disputed territory" and even cast doubts on the instrument of accession. Having held important assignments in the Clinton administration, she was brought back in August into the official fold by Richard Holbrooke, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Before this, she had been working with lobbying firm Cassidy and Associates which had a $1.2-million contract with the Pakistan government of which receipts of $350,500 have been shown in the last quarter. This has raised questions over conflict of interest norms that the Obama administration has so strictly applied, and on which the President has taken a clear public position from the start of his presidency.

In its submission under US laws to the Department of Justice, the firm lists Raphel as one of its principal lobbyists for Pakistan, listing her several visits to the State Department and US Congress in this connection. Details of legislations for which the firm lobbied for Pakistan are:

* Fiscal 2010 Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations (HR-3081)

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