Pakistan Embassy Clarifies Lobbying Report
Washington, DC: The Pakistan Embassy in Washington on Sunday clarified a report on lobbying firms hired by Pakistan and other Pakistani organizations. It said: “Neither has Pakistan hired 11 lobbying firms and nor are the dollars flowing out on account of lobbying for Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan has hired only two firms — Locke Lord Strategies-LP and Cassidy & Associates.
“It ís unfortunate that the write-up listed names of 11 companies and gave an impression as if all these companies have been hired by the current government. The list also contains names of the firms which were hired in the past and their contracts have been terminated years ago.
“Contrary to the information provided in the write-up, the fact of the matter is that when the new government came into power all contracts of the lobbying firms hired by the last government were terminated. In May 2008, Locke lord Strategies was hired at monthly payment of $ 75,000 ($900,000 annually). Cassidy and Associates has been hired only last month at the rate of $ 58,000 ($ 696,000 annually). These are the only two lobbying firms working for Pakistan through its embassy in Washington, DC.
“The annual total of $ 1.6 million will be spent to further Pakistan’s interests in the US Congress and the administration. Both Locke Lord and Cassidy are lobbying firms not PR companies. They do not project the person of the prime minister or the president. These companies help Pakistan in complex legislation process in the Congress and provide ingress to the US Administration. The democratic government, after coming into power, terminated the contracts of the lobbying firms and PR companies which were working for the last government on hefty payments.
“By all fairness, the money being spent now is much less than what the government of Pakistan used to pay the lobbying firms hired previously. Cassidy and Associates was hired at the rate of $ 1.2 million annually by the previous government. Now the same firm has been hired at the rate of $696,000 annually. It may be mentioned that these lobbying firms are very useful in promoting Pakistan’s interests due to their contacts in the US administration and the Congress. All foreign governments and international companies hire lobbyists to protect their interests in Washington DC.
“The government of Pakistan believes in transparency and the embassy has always welcomed media queries for sharing information. We would continue to welcome queries from media persons, giving them verifiable facts so that they could provide authentic information to the readers.”
Shaheen Sehbai adds: The embassy has sidetracked the main issues highlighted in the report. Basically, the embassy is trying to deny the data posted at the US government official websites about lobbyists and firms hired by Pakistani organizations, including the embassy of Pakistan. The clarification generally says it has hired and terminated companies but gives no specifics while the US data used in my report had all the names and details. Which is that data is wrong should be explained by the embassy and if it is wrongly posted on the US government websites, the embassy should take up the matter with the US authorities.
More importantly it has been stated very clearly in the report that the Embassy of Pakistan has three firms hired as lobbyists. The embassy has admitted it has two but the third, Moses Boyd, which company has registered itself as a foreign agent of the Pakistan Embassy, has not been included. This company, interestingly, has also registered as the official lobbyist of the Russian government. So if Moses Boyd is working for Pakistan and Russia, how are the conflicts of interest in pursuing policies and agenda of both these clients e being resolved. The embassy has to explain this.
According to the embassy officials, after the Geo TV aired the program on lobbying and The News story was published on the Iinternet edition, the Embassy of Pakistan was opened on Saturday and all files were removed to an unknown destination on the orders of the Embassy high-ups. The News story was based on US government information and we stand by our story. If there are any wrong facts, the embassy should take it up with the US government and Pakistani authorities should get all the details from the Foreign Office and the embassy through the Public Accounts Committee and other parliamentary oversight bodies.