Friday, September 11, 2009
Afghan Ambassador Asks for a Lobbying Surge
"Our immediate neighbors Pakistan, India, and China are contracting over a dozen prominent lobbyists. ... In addition, these countries have employed public relations firms before and amid political events to lobby for more specific agendas," reads a confidential memo (pdf) from Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States, Said Tayeb Jawad, to the country's finance minister. Ambassador Jawad requests "annual funding that is at least roughly one tenth of what Pakistan spends on lobbying in Washington." In 2002, DLA Piper began donating lobbying services to Afghanistan. Five years later, the firm "negotiated a small monthly retainer of $10,000, but even that has been a stretch for the embassy," reports Mother Jones. Ambassador Jawad told the magazine that the Afghan government "doesn't know exactly how Washington operates... They ask, 'Is this legal, to buy influence?' Yes, everybody's doing it!" In the memo, Jawad lists Pakistan's and India's present and past lobbying firms, along with "additional lobbying vehicles" such as the U.S.-India Political Action Committee.