India has signed up a leading Washington-based law firm for $700,000 a year to work as a lobbyist for "developing, refining and expanding" relationships between Indian officials and the United States foreign policy-making apparatus.
Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which has been hired by India, is headed by Robert D Blackwill, former US ambassador to New Delhi.
The lobby shop's foreign agent filing surfaced at the US justice department, and it showed that the fee was none too shabby, The Washington Post reported.
Merely $700,000 for a year's work of "developing, refining and expanding relationships between Indian officials and the US foreign policy-making apparatus in the executive and legislative branches," the post said.
However, the firm cannot take advantage of the services of Blackwill as he is under a one-year ban on representing a foreign government that does not expire until November, the report noted.
Besides, Pakistan has retained a top-notch firm, Van Scoyoc Associates, as a lobbyist although not at quite as pricey a fee, the paper said, adding Islamabad is paying $570,000 for 15 months of work.
According to Van Scoyoc's foreign agent filing, the firm will "engage in discussions with the legislative and executive branches ... on issues of interest to the government of Pakistan," the Post added.
That would include helping persuade Congress not to block the Bush administration's plans to sell F-16s to Pakistan as well as to provide about $3 billion over 5 years in military and economic assistance.
"Pakistan is an important ally," Mark J Tavlarides, a Van Scoyoc lobbyist, was quoted as saying by the Post. Tavlarides was director for legislative affairs at the national security council during the Clinton administration.