Recent visit of Imran Khan to the US is being touted as the most successful foreign campaign by a Pakistani prime minister by his supporters. After facing massive criticism for his inability to act after abrogation of Article 370 by India, the noise around Imran Khan’s campaign in the United States during the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly has ensured that Imran Khan could at least take a sigh of relief regarding his own positioning in Pakistani politics.
One of the most prevalent features of Imran Khan’s United Nations campaign is the “Pakistan friendly” media coverage in the US and global press on the issue of Kashmir. An India Today Open Source Investigation (OSINT) now throws light on the methods and characters employed during this campaign by the Pakistani deep state.
A little known organisation called “International Humanitarian Foundation Inc.” (IHF) was at the forefront of the Pakistani campaign. Its name first came up as the main organiser of the anti-India protest in Houston on September 22 at the NRG stadium in Houston.
On September 27, IHF sponsored a full page advertisement in the New York Times.
According to advertising rates of New York Times, this advertisement alone would have cost at least $100,000 to the IHF.
Notwithstanding its name pretending to be an international humanitarian non-profit, there is no visible body of humanitarian work of IHF in any other region of the world on any other issue.
In fact, tax collection details obtained by India Today show that IHF was registered only a month before PM Modi’s visit to Houston.
Further, a WHOIS domain lookup showed that the official website of IHF is just 36 days old, as of today.
The foundation does not exhibit any open allegiance to Pakistani establishment and operates disguised as a global humanitarian non-profit.
The PR Firm
According to a report published by the O’Dwyer PR (a US-based platform which publishes rankings of the PR companies in the United States), IHF had signed a $50,000 contract with a US-based PR firm Fenton Communications.
Pakistan’s newspaper Dawn reported that Imran Khan even held a meeting with David Fenton, the founder of Fenton communication in New York during the visit.
All the Prime Minister’s men
The O’Dwyer report also claims that the IHF is run by representatives of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). A further analysis of open source data leads us to an individual named Atif Iqbal Khan who is also president of Houston chapter of PTI.
Iqbal even posted a message on his social media page thanking the designer for preparing the NYT ad-design on a short notice.
Pakistan Military Link
While footprints of several individuals associated with Imran Khan’s political party are visible all over, role of one person acting behind the scenes is essential to the campaign. Mian Nazir is the president of Pakistan Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), he also runs Pakistan House in Houston.
Mian is not directly associated with PTI, however the only nameless phone number mentioned at IHF’s official website belongs to Mian Nazir. He also posted a version of the NYT advertisement a day before of its actual publication in the newspaper.
He was seen physically present outside the NRG stadium in the anti-India protest.
A permanent resident of Houston, Mian is also seen attending dinner with Pakistan army officials at army’s exclusive clubs in Pakistan.
The money spent by IHF for advertising and PR over 12 days alone is estimated to be more than $150,000; additional cost of logistics which includes “free park and ride” in Houston and New York could take the expenditure amount by the purported humanitarian organization to its double.
The establishment in Pakistan did not use any of its known aliases such as local chapters or business forums, while funding these campaigns. This was an attempt to make sure that the issue of Kashmir came out as a global humanitarian concern and without carrying infamous Pakistani tag during the UNGA campaign.