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Imran’s PTI hired CIA veteran to advise on US ties:Reports

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WASHINGTON (PTI): An American consulting firm, run by a former CIA station chief in Islamabad, has come into the limelight that was hired on behalf of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to lobby and provide advice on Pakistan-US relations.Robert Laurent Grenier of Grenier Consulting LLC was hired last year when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was still in power. The agreement with the firm was signed by Iftikharur Rehman Durrani in July 2021 under the “supervision of senior [PTI] party officials and under the direction of Pakistan government officials.”

Grenier is a CIA veteran who was also the CIA station chief in Islamabad during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and later served as the agency’s top counter-terrorism official from 2004 to 2006.According to the Foreign Agents Registration Act documents, the contract between the firm and Durrani, on behalf of the PTI government, was signed for six months initially from May 1 to October 2021 for $25,000 per month. Grenier could not be reached for comments and to confirm if the contract was terminated or not.

According to the documents, the firm was to “maintain contacts with US government officials of both the executive and legislative branches, as well as with think tanks and other informed individuals, in addition to consulting with the client and the client’s associates, to determine how the scope of constructive relations between the US government and the government of Pakistan might be enhanced, and will advise his Pakistani client and the client’s associates accordingly, both through verbal and written communications.”

It further highlights that the firm “will engage and consult with informed individuals in both the public and private sectors in both the US and Pakistan to make determinations as to how constructive relations between the US and Pakistan might be enhanced and provide advice to the client and his associates as to how this might be accomplished.”

Hiring such lobbying firms to extend or propagate an entity’s interests is a routine exercise in the US. Besides the CIA officer’s lobbying firm, earlier this month PTI-USA Inc, a subsidiary of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, hired Fenton/Arlook to provide “public relations services, including but not limited to distributing information to and briefing journalists, placing articles and broadcasts, arranging interviews with representatives or supporters of PTI, advising on social media efforts and other such public relations services.”



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded

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The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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