November 08, 2014

Robin Raphael’s illicit links with Taliban and Pakistan lobbyists


The US authorities have initiated inquiry against former US Diplomat Robin Raphel, who has been known for her expertise on Central Asia, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, for her alleged involvement with various extremist groups. Interestingly, in her entire 30 years of career with the US State Department, no one could make it out about her alleged interests. It is reportedly said that she has close connections with various Taliban factions. She presently serves as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan, carrying on the work of the late Richard Holbrooke, whose AfPak team she joined in 2009.

Raphel was instrumental in orchestrating the decision of the State Department to open up diplomatic relations with the Taliban shortly after its takeover of Kabul. A second major policy directive that she  advocated and developed during her tenure was engagement with the Taliban. Her positions raised scorns at many occasions. Some reports however suggest that she had business interests with the Pakistan lobby in US.


According to recent news reports, Raphel's State Department office and home was searched and sealed. However, it's still unclear the investigations were directed towards. The officials said it is an ongoing investigation and no charges have been filed as yet, the reports further added.

Meanwhile, as reported, at the time of the raid, Raphel, was an adviser on Pakistan under a limited, renewable contract to the State Department's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she administered nonmilitary aid and economic grants, CNN report said.
Robin Raphel – a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia and ambassador to Tunisia, spent much of her career working on Pakistan and South Asia. News that she was mainly working as a lobbyist came to the fore when the Indian Express published in November 2009 report said-

"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."

The News, a Pakistani daily also carried a similar report titled, New lobbyist hired in DC as Kerry-Lugar row rages. The article says-

"The new company hired is Cassidy & Associates, one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington in which Robin Raphael, the newly appointed coordinator of all aid to Pakistan, was a key partner until she got her new job recently."

Sources suggest, Robin Raphel once referred Pakistan as a "model, modern, moderate Muslim State." The report further quotes an official of Cassidy saying that the firm had been hired by the Pakistan Embassy for $700,000 a year plus expenses which can run into thousands of dollars, as seen in the past.

The Pakistan media report was also an indicator of how Raphel misused her powers and office for business interests and had also succeeded in hoodwinking and manipulate US authorities State Department norms to gain positions, as the Indian Express report stated. If proven, it is criminal to maneuver the nation's strategic policies that helped her get financial and business benefits and influence many lives of innocent people negatively.

Her State Department biography says she began her career as a CIA analyst before serving in the Foreign Service for 30 years. Robin Raphel retired from the State Department in 2005, but returned in 2009 to work as an advisor to the late Richard Holbrooke, appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the first special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Besides this,  Robin Raphel was seen in New Delhi as a catalyst for Washington "trafficking with India's enemies" as she was more in line with Sikh and Kashmiri seperatist

No comments: