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May 6, 2011 11:54 AM

Pakistan Taps Locke Lord for Lobbying Work Following OBL Fallout

Posted by Brian Baxter

Pakistan has launched an aggressive lobbying effort led by Locke Lord Strategies to keep open a U.S. pipeline of billions in aid after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday.

Reuters reports that Locke Lord Strategies--the lobbying arm of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell--has been retained by Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari to fight accusations that Islamabad was complicit in giving refuge to bin Laden in a compound 50 miles outside of the country's capital city and adjacent to its national military academy.

Locke Lord partner Mark Siegel told Reuters that he has spoken twice with Zardari since U.S. special forces killed bin Laden, and "countless" times to the country's ambassador in Washington, D.C., Husain Haqqani. Siegel said that his clients "are certainly concerned" about suggestions that the Pakistani government knew all along about bin Laden's whereabouts, but that there was no proof that a support system for the Al Qaeda leader "was government-based."

Locke Lord has a long relationship with Pakistan and its current leaders. The Am Law Daily reported in February on Zardari's hire of Locke Lord and Siegel for a possible libel suit against Jang Media Group over a story by the Pakistani publisher about the president's marital status. Zardari's late wife, former Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, was killed in a terrorist attack in December 2007.

Mark Siegel served as a speechwriter to Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister, for nearly 25 years, according to a press release put out by Locke Lord two years ago announcing the firm's hire by Pakistan for U.S. lobbying work. Locke Lord said in a statement to The Am Law Daily on Friday that the firm represented Bhutto before she was assassinated "at the hands of whom many believe was Al Qaeda" and thereafter the Pakistani government and Zardari.

"Locke Lord is continuing to assist President Zardari in his efforts to work with the [U.S.] to combat global terrorism and to establish a more stable and prosperous Pakistan," said the firm, noting that many prominent U.S. politicians consider the country to be an important ally of the U.S. in counterterrorism efforts.

Reuters reports that Locke Lord is paid $75,000 per month by Pakistan and has earned nearly $2 million since being retained by the country two years ago. Records on file under the U.S. government's Foreign Agents Registration Act show that Locke Lord also does work for Pakistan International Airlines, Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party, and the U.S. Embassy for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

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