Pak hires new lobbying firm after Kerry-Lugar aid bill 'disaster'

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Washington, Sep.30 (ANI): Amid the growing discontent in Pakistan over the terms and conditions attached with the much awaited Kerry-Lugar aid bill, Islamabad has hired a new lobbyist to push its cause in the aftermath of what is being widely believed to be a historic blunder.

Pakistan has hired Cassidy and Associates, one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington, for a whopping 700,000 dollars a year plus expenses which can run into thousands of dollars, The News reports.

It may be noted that Robin Raphael, the newly appointed coordinator of all aid to Pakistan, was a key partner in Cassidy and Associates, until she was appointed to the current post.

Analysts, however, are uncertain about how effective the new lobbyist firm would prove at the time when the Kerry Lugar aid bill has been tabled in the US Lower House following Senate's approval.

The aid bill would triple US democratic, economic, and social development assistance to Pakistan to 1.5 billion dollar a year, with a focus on health and education services.

They said the decision to hire a new lobbying firm clearly indicates that Pakistan is not satisfied with the work of the current lobbyist Mark Siegel, who was a close friend of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Following the Pakistan government's decision to rope in Cassidy and Associates to push for its cause, the company declared that its goal would be to promote ties between Islamabad and Washington.

The new lobbyist declared that its objective would be to : "engage in efforts to improve Pak-US relations and promote the evelopment of US policy beneficial to Pakistan's goals and interests." (ANI)

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