WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that keeps blaming the US for leading a regime change conspiracy in Pakistan and ousting its government in the Centre has hired an American lobbying and PR firm at a cost of $25,000 per month to manage its public and media relations in the United States.
According to the documents filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), lobbying firm Fenton/Arlook will provide public relations services, including but not limited to distributing information to and briefing journalists, placing articles and broadcasts, arranging interviews with representatives or supporters of PTI, advising on social media efforts and other such public relations services.
The contract between the firm and PTI-USA Inc has been signed for a period of six months. The firm will be paid $25,000 per month. The contract mentions that the client does not include PTI – the political party registered in Pakistan. The FARA documents under its clauses also highlight, “PTI USA is in certain instances directed by the foreign political party in Pakistan.”
In another clause, the FARA form enquires, will the activities on behalf of the above foreign principal include political activities to which the firm answered in the affirmative stating that it will contact journalists, editors, producers and columnists on behalf of PTI USA to explain their views to the US media only.
Hiring lobbying firms and working on behalf of countries, entities and even foreign political parties is a routine exercise in the US. In the past, Pakistan Embassy, Pakistan Peoples Party, and even PIA had hired lobbying firms to promote their interests.
Interestingly, Fenton/Arlook LLC was hired by the Government of Pakistan in March this year when PTI Chairman Imran Khan was the prime minister. The initial contract was for almost a period of six months and was signed by the Embassy of Pakistan for provision of public relations services.
Payment of two months of fees in advance, or $50,000, plus an expense advance of $5,000 is due on or before August 10th, 2022, to cover work in August and September 2022, read the documents seen by the Geo TV.
The information was first brought to light on the social media by Uzair Younus, Director at the Pakistan Initiative, Atlantic Council’s South Asia Centre. Younus also highlighted that Fenton/Arlook was previously also hired by the Pakistan Embassy in DC in March at a cost of $30,000 for similar purposes.
The expenses will be billed monthly and payable upon submission of evidence, i.e. valid receipt. These will include any necessary travel to Pakistan or domestically in business class, any legal fees associated with FARA registration and compliance, distribution of news releases through paid services and other such actual out-of-pocket expenses.
Meanwhile, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry Friday dismissed media reports about the hiring of lobbying firm and explained that the PTI USA had hired a media relations firm to highlight its point of view in the media.
Fawad tweeted: “I have asked for the Urdu translation of the papers so that journalists and ministers can understand that this is not a lobbying firm but a media relations firm engaged by PTI USA to highlight its point of view in the media. Such companies have a job to build relationships in the media with the party”.
Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal also shared the details of the agreement between PTI and the firm on the social media and criticised the PTI. “You do not feel ashamed, Imran Khan has created a conspiracy theory against America in the nation and he has ‘employed way’ to seek America’s forgiveness”.
The minister further wrote, “Imran Khan first sent envoys and then pleaded with the ambassador himself and now the work of forgiveness is being done by keeping a lobbyist, how many faces of this captain are there? The computer is also worried.”
Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman also called out Imran for hiring an American lobbying firm after creating extreme polarisation in the country. In a statement, she said using the US conspiracy narrative, Imran Khan had been caught red-handed for his shameful hypocrisy and obsessive narcissism.
“It seems as though Imran Khan is walking around with two faces, one for the people of the country, and the other where he continues to further his own political interests. How can someone defend such blatant double standard as no one will buy it, the facts are out there,” she said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.
Sherry asked Imran to offer an unconditional apology for the web of lies he had created. She said the documents on the US Justice Department website had revealed the blatant double standard that Khan was using for self-promotion, as the PTI had now become a quiet seeker of “better relations with the US” by hiring a lobbying firm for itself while egregiously harming the interests of the country he misgoverned.
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