A 71-year old Pakistani man from Columbia, Maryland, pleaded guilty May 7, for failing to file a foreign agent registration statement when he was lobbying for Islamabad’s interests in this country.
Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry, a national of Pakistan and permanent resident of the United States, described himself as President of the Pakistan American League, an unincorporated entity he created and which carried his residential address in Maryland. Chaudhry faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for July 30, 2018 at 2 p.m. in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“Chaudhry failed to file a registration statement with the Attorney General, as required by law, providing notification of his activities on behalf of the Government of Pakistan, and falsely represented that his activities in relation to Pakistan were solely educational in nature and executed for the benign purpose of encouraging better relations between the United States and Pakistan,” a press release from the Justice Department said.
According to his plea agreement, from 2012 through 2018, Chaudhry acted as an agent of the Government of Pakistan in order to engage in political activities for, and in the interests of, the Government of Pakistan. “These activities were designed by Chaudhry to obtain and manage information on the status of the United States Government’s policies regarding Pakistan, and to influence U.S. government officials and U.S. foreign policy towards Pakistan,” investigators found.
In consideration for his activities on behalf of the Government of Pakistan, Chaudhry was granted invitations to events at the Pakistan Embassy; introductions to, and meetings with, high-level Pakistan government officials; assistance with procuring civilian, military, or government -related jobs and preferential postings for relatives and associates in Pakistan; assistance with securing Pakistani visas on an expedited basis for friends, relatives, or associates; reimbursement for certain travel expenses; and the use of diplomatic channels to ship personal items to and from Pakistan, among other things.
Chaudhry organized press briefings in Washington, D.C. and Maryland for visiting Pakistan government dignitaries and arranged for various scholars and/or former United States government officials to attend conferences in Pakistan.
In order to be more effective in obtaining information of interest to Pakistan, and to gain a strategic advantage in acquiring information that might not otherwise be divulged to official representatives of the Government of Pakistan, Chaudhry falsely represented that his activities were solely educational in nature and not affiliated with the Pakistan government, authorities said. These representations were made not only to American think tank scholars, but also to current and former United States government officials, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents who interviewed Chaudhry upon entry into the United States from his travels to Pakistan.
Chaudhry interacted on a routine basis with representatives of the Government of Pakistan, at their Embassy in Washington, D.C. and consular office in New York City. He also interacted with numerous institutes, foundations, and organizations operating in and around Washington, D.C., commonly referred to as “think tanks,” that played a role in shaping and influencing U.S. foreign policy.
He organized roundtable discussions in the Washington D.C., and Maryland metropolitan areas between his American government and think tank contacts and visiting Pakistan government officials to influence United States foreign policy in a direction favorable to Pakistan’s interests, the press release said. Chaudhry cultivated contacts within these entities and the United States government in order to obtain in-depth information regarding the United States government’s policies towards Pakistan. “Chaudhry then sought to neutralize unfavorable views of Pakistan held by current and former U.S. government officials by employing certain methods of discussion with these individuals during personal interactions with them and/or by controlling and manipulating discussion at the roundtable events he organized or attended,” the press release said.
According to his plea agreement, Chaudhry regularly traveled to Pakistan to brief high-level Pakistan government officials on information obtained from his American government and think tank contacts. He also met with Pakistan government officials in the United States to report on the details of his meetings in Pakistan with high-level Pakistan government officials, and obtain information regarding matters of interest to Pakistan relevant to his activities in the United States on behalf of the Pakistan government.