Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) defended a controversial trip to Pakistan last year on the grounds that she fought for democracy, human rights, and against "Islamophobia." But the Squad member’s weeklong junket also provided a political and commercial boost to a Democratic megadonor who maintains extensive ties to the Pakistani government, a Washington Free Beacon investigation found.
Omar, who recently disclosed that the government of Pakistan funded her travels, was accompanied on the trip by Tahir Javed, a Pakistani-American businessman who serves as deputy finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, according to his LinkedIn profile. While Omar has not been accused of wrongdoing, her close ties to Javed could raise concerns about whether she is doing the bidding of a prominent campaign donor—one who has been accused of serving as an unregistered lobbyist for Pakistan. Javed has contributed $6,900 to Omar’s campaigns, and hosted a fundraiser for her at his home in 2018.
Omar’s April 2022 trip drew the representative a rebuke from India, a U.S. ally, over her visit to the disputed Kashmir region. She also met with Imran Khan, who was ousted as Pakistan’s prime minister days before Omar’s visit. Drama over Omar’s whirlwind tour prompted the State Department to announce her trip was "personal" and not sanctioned by the U.S. government.
Javed in a May 2022 interview appeared to take credit for arranging the meeting between Omar and Khan, who has accused the U.S. government of orchestrating his removal from office. The entrepreneur also organized Omar’s visit to the headquarters of Byonyks Medical, a firm that claims to sell Pakistan’s first "bloodless" kidney dialysis machine. Javed serves on the advisory board of Byonyks. Byonyks founder Farrukh Usman, who contributed $1,000 to Omar’s campaign on June 29, 2022 and accompanied her in Pakistan, suggested on social media that he and Javed organized the trip.
Javed, who owns several companies in Texas and says he bundled $2 million for the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020, has used his access to top Democrats to lobby in favor of Pakistan. He claims to have discussed the Kashmir issue with Biden during a fundraiser at his home in 2019. That same year, Javed reportedly lobbied Texas state representative Shawn Thierry to boycott a rally in Houston for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Last year, Javed met with Omar, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), and others to request additional federal aid for flood victims in Pakistan.
He has also served as a liaison for Khan, a controversial figure who has called Osama bin Laden a "martyr." After the 2020 election, Javed personally conveyed a congratulatory message from Khan to Vice President Kamala Harris and urged her to appoint Pakistani-Americans to the administration. Javed accompanied Khan on an official visit to Congress in 2019.
Javed’s advocacy has won him accolades in Pakistan. Khan’s administration in 2021 awarded Javed with the Tamgha-e-Imtaz award, given to civilians for their service to Pakistan. Pakistani leaders congratulated Tahir, saying that "immigrants settled in foreign countries are ambassadors of Pakistan, [who play a] political and economic role throughout the world."
Javed has maintained access to the White House, Omar, and other policymakers. He attended a White House event this month for the World Series champion Houston Astros, and posed with Biden for a photo at a DNC event later that day. Javed posted photos last month with Omar and her husband.
Omar has pushed measures favorable to Pakistan and defended Khan after his removal from office. Last month, she called on the Pakistani Supreme Court to release Khan from jail after his arrest on corruption charges. She has called on the State Department to designate India, an adversary of Pakistan, a "country of particular concern." Omar and several other Squad members boycotted Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s state visit in June, which President Biden held to strengthen ties between the United States and India.
Omar also provided a public relations boost for Byonyks, the firm linked to Javed. During a speech at Byonyks’s headquarters in Lahore, Omar praised the company for its "life-saving treatment," and said she will "be having conversations with people about this amazing endeavor." Pakistani media outlets touted Omar’s visit, with photos of the lawmaker at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Javed and Usman, the Byonyks founder.
The United States-India Relationship Council, a pro-India advocacy group, has questioned why Javed accompanied Omar on her trip to Pakistan. The group has accused Javed of "pushing US politicians to subscribe to anti-Indian policies," and called for "more transparency relating to Tahir Javed’s lobbying and fundraising roles."
Omar has introduced legislation to strengthen FARA in order to ensure that "lobbyists representing foreign countries act in good faith and operate with full transparency."
Omar, Javed, the Democratic National Committee, and the Pakistani embassy did not respond to requests for comment.