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US lawmakers seek probe against Pak envoy Masood Khan's terror links

Washington [US]: Three prominent US lawmakers have called for a probe in newly-installed Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan, for his links with terror outfits and sympathizers. The approval of Khan's appointment generated criticism last month due to reports of his links to Islamist charities that have openly affiliated with terrorists and his praise for terrorist organizations. In a letter sent to US Attorney General, US Reps. Scott Perry, Mary Miller, and Greg Steube asked for a probe of Masood Khan's ties with a number of Islamist groups in Pakistan which the lawmakers say represent a threat to US national security. "On January 27, I wrote a letter to President Biden (attached) raising concerns about Pakistan's newly-installed Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan. In that letter, I requested that President Biden reject any diplomatic credentials presented by [Mr. Khan]' due to Khan's unmitigated sympathy and support for various US-designated terrorist groups in South Asia. While it defies reason that Masood Khan was approved, his close relationships with domestic actors linked with the Pakistani regime remains a critical concern," wrote Congressman Scott Perry along with Congressman W Gregory Steube and Congressman Marry E Miller in a letter dated on March 9. In the letter, US lawmakers highlighted that Pakistan has an exhaustive history of using US actors as agents of their government. They report that Khan met with the leaders of Friends of Kashmir after the organization hosted an event with two operatives with ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization.The letter said that Masood Khan has also been tied closely to Pakistani efforts to marginalize India in the United States. "Prior to Prime Minister Modi's 2019 visit to America, an organization named Friends of Kashmir - a 501(c)(3) group that works out of the Pakistani consulate in Houston and "frequently collaborates with the Pakistani government"- worked with other groups to organize large-scale protests against the Indian government after Imran Khan compared India's Modi-led government to the Nazis," the lawmakers said. "Even as Friends of Kashmir hosted an event with two operatives with ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2017 (the US-designated terrorist group which carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 were murdered), Masood Khan continued to meet with the head of Friends of Kashmir on a regular basis, with social media posts highlighting several meetings at Mr Khan's residence in Pakistan," they added. Moreover, the letter said Khan has also worked with groups such as the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA), whose subsidiary, has worked closely with Friends of Kashmir. "APPNA itself has been described by Imran Khan as Pakistan's "most powerful" lobbying group in the United States." "In addition, while Masood Khan was President of Azad Kashmir, a registered 501(c)(3) organization called Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) repeatedly enjoyed praise from Khan and his official office, which declared its commitment to "cooperation" with the HHRD11 - even after the U.S. Congress raised concerns about HHRD's open cooperation with designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba," the letter reads. Given the Ambassador's unusual closeness to the Islamist groups, the US lawmakers requested an investigation into the nature of Khan's relationships with them. "It is vital to U.S. National security that our Government investigate any potential Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) violation with regard to Ambassador Khan. He clearly supports terrorists, and if this Administration is happy to provide him with a diplomatic visa, the American People deserve - at the very least - the due diligence from our Government for a thorough investigation and answers," the letter said.

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