Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shah Mahmood Qureshi - One or Two Things I Know About Him

In case you missed the Oscar-worthy performance of former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on February 16, you might want to take a look at the following clip in which he not only boasts about his great vision and achievements as Foreign Minister and divulges details about the internal workings of the government, he also refers to himself repeatedly in the third person. "Shah Mahmood was right there", "Shah Mahmood cannot be pressured", "Shah Mahmood kept the flag flying" etc. etc. etc.





Whatever else we may have learnt from this entirely self-promoting press conference, it does in fact tell us a few things about the suave pir from southern Punjab.

1. For one, the man has an ego the size of Multan. Anyone who has can refer to himself in the third person with nary a hint of irony or embarrassment has to have something going on in his head that we should all be wary of. Remember a certain Nawaz Sharif?

2. He obviously fancies himself as the reincarnation of another former rebellious foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The body language, the expressions, the brusque mannerisms seem entirely, albeit unsuccessfully, copied from his professed idol.

3. Consequently it can be easily extrapolated that he also fancies himself as a future prime minister. You just know that's what he has set his sights on. In fact, he casually even brings up his (unsuccessful) nomination as prime minister by Benazir Bhutto in 2002. Obviously, he feels his time has come.

4. He has previously indicated his closeness to the military establishment through some of the stances he has taken. Here he once again lets slip that the Foreign Office decision on Raymond Davis had the direct input of the ISI, or as he calls it "a third state institution." I personally have little doubt after this conference that the feeling is mutual. The military would probably not find a better candidate than him from the current lot of politicos. Imran Khan, a longtime favourite of the boys is of course equally urbane, articulate and acceptable in the West but lacks one critical element that Qureshi has: electability as a prime minister. Are we seeing the grooming of the alternative option?

Meanwhile, at one point in his conference, Shah Mahmood claims that all serving and retired diplomats support him. He obviously did not count on former ambassador Zafar Hilaly. Hilaly can sometimes be a bit of a loose cannon in his writings and statements. But his takedown of Qureshi in today's Express Tribune deserves to be reproduced in all its acerbity.


The rise and fall of Shah Mahmood Qureshi
By Zafar Hilaly 
"Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s performance at his press conference on February 16 deserved a curtain call. His vocation should have been the stage, rather than politics. The affected manner, the dramatic pauses, the contrived humility, letting his expression suggest what words cannot, the fact that he did not actually cry while he made his audience think that he was crying were all expressions of that neurotic impulse that actors develop for the stage. Perhaps if Qureshi really wants to be taken seriously, he should quit acting because that would be a sign of maturity.
On the Raymond Davis matter, he prevaricated when certainty was required; he kept quiet when he needed to speak out and then spoke out when it was best to be silent. What he should have done when he discovered that his take on the Raymond Davis matter differed from that of the leadership of his party — and indeed that they differed on politics and not only principles, because some were contemplating doctoring documents — was to resign and not wait to be booted out which, for all practical purposes, he was.
The trouble with Qureshi, like his icon Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is that he, too, is a compulsive performer. All politicians are vain but like ZA Bhutto, Qureshi does not wear his vanity lightly. Moreover, he wraps himself up in the flag at the slightest opportunity. Ever the egotist, Qureshi has assumed the role of the wronged patriot much as ZA Bhutto did in 1966 by raising the Tashkent bogey. Faced with the prospect of having lost his job, Qureshi also lashed out at the regime to which he had sworn fealty, in which he had prospered and by which he had been rewarded with high office. But all that Qureshi has succeeded in achieving is to widen suspicion about his loyalty which had always been loitering in the minds of PPP stalwarts, from a chink into a veritable chasm. Needless to say, like Bhutto, who never disclosed the secret clauses of Tashkent — because there were none — we probably won’t ever know what further disclosures Qureshi has up his sleeve.
By exaggerating achievements of his nondescript and relatively brief tenure as foreign minister and laying on self-praise with a trowel, the impression he gave was exactly the opposite of what he intended. It made him sound much like a mother who talks about her own children. Or, better still, like the fly that sat on the axle wheel of the Roman chariot and said ‘see what dust I raise’.
However, while ZA Bhutto had several solid achievements to brag about during his long stint as foreign minister, Qureshi has none. If he stood tall, it is only because, like Gulliver, he served among Lilliputians. To claim, for example, that the mention of Kashmir in his speech at the UN was a singular contribution to the Kashmiri cause amounted to what one friend described kindly as “superfluity of excess,” which is longhand for lies. The brave Kashmiris are responsible for returning the Kashmir dispute to the forefront of the international agenda, not Qureshi’s prattling from the UN podium.
Qureshi’s other claim that, but for him, the India-Pakistan dialogue would not have resumed, was more revealing of the novice that he was, and remains, when it comes to foreign affairs. It is mostly to India’s advantage that talks resume with Pakistan. India is seeking support for her candidature for permanent membership of the Security Council and talks, even if only for the sake of talking, help to show India as being conciliatory. It deflects attention from Delhi’s depredations in Kashmir, which have aroused outrage in India and abroad. On the other hand, talks and their inevitably inconclusive outcome serve no purpose for Pakistan. Thanks to this government and the other preceding it, we no longer have an image that is worth our while to maintain.
Qureshi made much of the fact that he had refused to be pressurised by his own party leaders on Raymond Davis because he did not want to be a party to the killing of ‘innocent’ Pakistanis. Indeed, if the victims are found to be innocent, that would be justifiable cause for elation. However, at the time that he was ‘heroically’ resisting such pressure, and even now, it is by no means certain that the two motorcyclists were entirely innocent. When Qureshi declared them innocent, not even the police had made up their minds, what to speak of the court where the trial has yet to begin. Was he trying to say that he knew that Davis is a homicidal maniac because who else will kill people merely because they were hanging around his car?
As for the ‘consultations’ that Qureshi claims he had with ‘experts’ of other departments before arriving at his conclusions, two of those departments, the interior ministry and presumably the intelligence agencies, would have known next to nothing about the Vienna Conventions. As for the legal wing of the Foreign Office, if those manning it had been remotely competent, they would have made their living at the Bar.
Qureshi would have been better advised to have got expert advice not from his subordinates but from independent experts of repute. Had he done so, he would have realised that the entire matter of the status of Raymond Davis hinged on the fact of whether he was a member of the technical and administrative staff of the embassy, as the Americans claim, in which case he has blanket immunity, or whether he is a consular official attached to the US consulate, in which case he does not.
One should have been able to say with near certainty that Shah Mahmood Qureshi has burnt his boats with the PPP and that his open defiance of the party leadership is as transparent an effort as any that can be made to carve out a bloc of his own supporters within the party, or perhaps to leave it altogether. However, the PPP is now in the hands of people who are all ‘loyal’ to the party, but in their own fashion and only for the moment. The likes of them may well welcome him back when, in fact, he should be stiff armed into oblivion."



27 comments:

Delirium said...

I seriously doubt that Military and establishment have the alternate choice in SMQ. Despite his sauve persona and long career, he lacks the cutting edge and connect with the people.

He was never able to pose a serious threat to NS at provincial level even when the latter was in exile.

SQM has been switching boats between PPP and PML and it would be interesting to see how he tackles the challange even from rivals and giants such as PM Gillani
and Javed Hashmi at local level.

Delirium said...

I seriously doubt that military & establishment have their man in SQM. Despite his sauve persona and long career, he lacks the cutting edge and appeal as well as the connection with the people.

He was unable to cast an impression or seriously threaten NS even at provincial level, even when the latter was in exile.

SQM has been switching boats between PPP & PML in the past and it would be interesting to see how he tackles the challenge from pirs and murshids- the rivals and giants such as PM Gillani & Javed Hashmi- even at the local level.

Magnum said...

"For one, the man has an ego the size of Multan"

LOL. That says it all. Great post Pyala, but this might dissapoint the usual designer patriots who've been hailing him as the new Bhutto! God have mercy.

Anonymous said...

SMQ will remebered as Destroyer/Terminator of PPP, in the long run .
Now everybody knows AZ will face tough task in coming elections.

Indian reader said...

You guys do realise that a few decades from now, the entire political scenario in Pakistan will make for a fantastic Bollywood film. I can almost visualise Raymond Davis with a gun in his hand going "Kutte kameene, mein tera khoon pee jaoonga" Zardari will be a sidey-role played by Johny Lever and Zion Hamid looking at Sherry Rehman and going "Ha ha ha.... ab tujhe kaun bachayega"

takhalus said...

Someone needs to do a Lloyd Bentsen on SMQ but I am way too young for that SMQ, "you're no ZAB".

Anonymous said...

SQM has always reminded me of a vacuum cleaner. Why didn't he ever take speech lessons!

teergi

Anonymous said...

SMQ keeps banging the drum about Raymond Davis has no diplomatic immunity. He claimed he was informed by 2 FO officials about it.

Fine.

SMQ should articulate a clear legal reasoning behind such a decision, citing both international and pakistani law. the man is articulate so he should have no problem making the argument.

And who are these two FO officials? what authority do they have? what expertise do they have in determining raymond davis' diplomatic status?

The press should be asking these questions, but they are not.

I think amb. hilaly covers the rest quite nicely.

Anonymous said...

SMQ has managed to project himself as the next Jamali/Shaukat Aziz in waiting.May be he wont have to wait for too long.

Briesh said...

He speaks like the majority of debaters that take part in inter-school competitions :/
Very fake. Very phony. Very immature.

Anonymous said...

Zafar Hilaly writes: "When Qureshi declared them innocent, not even the police had made up their minds, what to speak of the court where the trial has yet to begin. Was he trying to say that he knew that Davis is a homicidal maniac because who else will kill people merely because they were hanging around his car?"

The police & courts haven't made up their mind but Zafar Hilaly certainly has - that Davis is not a homicidal maniac so the victims must not be innocent.

Secondly, his point that NO ONE person in government is remotely competent to determine whether Davis had immunity or not is just stupid & without any merit. If anyone in the country is supposed to know which foreign national has & who hasn't gotten diplomatic immunity it should be the foreign office. How the hell will an independent expert know this? It is like suggesting that to verify say a degree from Karachi University you should go to an independent expert since the staff at KU is very incompetent.

The article wreaks of professional jealousy. He is right about SMQ's performance but he should remember Shah Mahmood is a politician & did what all politicians do.

And isn't it very clear by now that the Americans have a weak case & that Raymond Davis does not enjoy diplomatic immunity. If he did there is no way in hell the Pakistani government would have held him for how long he has been held in prison. In the end we will probably have to let him go because he is an American & not because he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

BZ said...

I am so glad that you are not posting anything on Mr. Davis lately. Who would like to tarnish one's image now that the NY Times -- yes, that emotional, sentimental, almost Urdu-medium newspaper -- has come out with revelations mentioning CIA and Blackwater/Xe. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/world/asia/22pakistan.html

Sakib Ahmad said...

There is also the report published in the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/20/us-raymond-davis-lahore-cia

In the light of reports appearing in the West, any attempt by the Zardari-Gilani government to give immunity to Davis could well result in the downfall of this corrupt government.

Arun said...

Working for the CIA does not preclude one from having diplomatic immunity.

Anonymous said...

whatever SMQ may say, and whether or not ZH is targeting him out of spite, and even putting aside the issue of the circumstances in which Davis shot the men, a statement of the venerable interior minister might be the most technically pertinent to this whole debate. davis had a diplomatic passport and was certified as such when given a visa -- which is not an anomaly in *any* country's intelligence operations. even pakistan sends intelligence operatives to countries under diplomatic cover. that visa was extended or renewed in islamabad after further verification by the isi, who obviously would have known what davis' role was. diplomatic immunity applies.

that being said, what's complicated the situation is people's anger about why another country's intelligence operative should be allowed to get away with shooting people. for those who want to see davis put on trial, it would seem that the track to question the immunity isn't really productive. better to question the whole structure under which the various security contractors and spies have been operating within pakistan *with the knowledge and in cooperation with the local authorities*. certainly for SMQ to now pose as a principled dissenter just because the arrangement went off the rails is, to put it politely, disingenuous bullshit. but yes, as someone said, that's what politicians do.

Anonymous said...

Who does anyone think the next foreign minister might likely be? And to what extent will the Davis case influence the decision as to who is to be the next foreign minister will be?

The government is very short on options, lets just hope they dont promote Firdos Ashiq Awan to that post!

Anonymous said...

Strange that Pakistan demands immunity for drivers in its embassies ... are they diplomats too. Here is a case of an ISI agent caught in India .... Paki news http://www.pakistankakhudahafiz.com/2010/05/25/indian-army-man-arrested-in-new-pakistan-spy-row/

Pen Pakistan said...

Shah mehmood clearly has a case of hubris

Sakib Ahmad said...

واہ کیفے پیالہ والو ! ذرا جاوید چودھری کا مضمون بھی پڑھ لیں

http://express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1101175565&Issue=NP_LHE&Date=20110222

مزید معلومات درکار ہوں تو میرے بلاگ کا ایک چکر لگا آئیں

BZ said...

"...there is never any excuse for a newspaper to mislead the public". Read Greenwald's excellent analysis of what NYT referred to as an act of temporarily withholding information. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/02/21/nyt/index.html

Anand said...

This blog reminded me of this classic Seinfeld bit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KBtYG6BZrg

Enjoy!

Yusaf Khan said...

@BZ...this is not the first time that the US press has colluded with the US government and witheld important news stories for the sake of "national security". Remember the Abu Gharaib incident in Iraq; the US media knew about the whole episode many months in advance and it was only after they thought that the story might be leaked out from somewhere else that they actually went with the story. Similarly, in the Davis case only after the UK based Guardian newspaper went out with the Davis being a CIA agent as a story that the other US newspapers went out with this.

Basically, I think the US media has become the partner of the US corporate right wing establishment specifically as far as US foreign relations are concerned. They have become irrelevant. People in the US who want to get the truth have to rely on foreign news service like the BBC and AlJazeera.

Agnostic Monk said...

Oscar worthy indeed! Should generate good parodies on youtube.

Taliban said...

ROSHAN KHAYALS... :P

i love that term ... :P

hahah

so basically you guys have decided that If "anyone" talks against USA or some "corrupt" thing or against "PPP" or against any "of your roshan khayal theories"

HE/SHE IS ACTING & LYING

I wonder if you guys have heard Hazrat Ali (R,H) quote that,
"LISTEN WHAT A PERSON IS SAYING, DO NOT CONSIDER WHO IS SAYING...."

Oh..sorry..since Hazrat Ali (R,H) was not a ROSHAN KHAYAL..so you guys for sure not read his quotes. Anyway..

so basically there is a group in our country (call themselves ROSHAN KHAYAL lately) which has decided to OPPOSE every single person out there.. doing any notable thing to try to create a confident or better image of Pakistan.
(OBVIOUSLY YOUR DEFINITION OF CONFIDENT AND BETTER IMAGE OF PAKISTAN IS VEENA MALIK :P )

If some corrupt person apologizes for his corruption or take a stand for something that can be beneficial to our nation....
you guys start digging his past to prove that he is not sincere and his act should not be appreciated. You guys start defaming him with every possible way.

Its somewhat like if a robber condemns a rape, as per your ROSHAN KHAYAL ideology, he is lying and acting and then you start digging data regarding his character, his past, etc to prove that people SHOULD NOT LISTEN TO THAT ROBBER....

I wonder why there is no post from you guys regarding "USA SHOULD attack Pakistan to rescue MR RAYMOND DAVIS" after all USA is a Roshan khayal and it has every right on the earth to do so :P

Thats basically what FREE MEDIA has done :)
every single ROSHAN KHAYAL teenager is trying to GO AGAINST anyone who got some attention ..:P .. basically you are doing the same....

WHY HE .... WHY NOT ME :P


@Anonymous aka BRAVE ROSHAN KHAYAL
dude why are you doing everything humanly (even non-humanly) possible to prove that raymond thing ..oh sorry... MR RAYMOND DAVIS.... has a diplomatic passport :P ...I mean even Pakistan Foreign Minister & Ministry itself has not issued an official statement yet,.,but you are trying like a fanatic ...oh sorry...i meant... ROSHAN KHAYAL ...to prove that he has one...I guess YOU issued that DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT to davis :P
calm down kiddo :P seems that you are reading cafe piyala a lot :P


AND WAITTTTT...LOOK WHO IS TALKING BOUT EGO...hahahah

Taliban said...

ROSHAN KHAYALS... :P

i love that term ... :P

hahah

so basically you guys have decided that If "anyone" talks against USA or some "corrupt" thing or against "PPP" or against any "of your roshan khayal theories"

HE/SHE IS ACTING & LYING

I wonder if you guys have heard Hazrat Ali (R,H) quote that,
"LISTEN WHAT A PERSON IS SAYING, DO NOT CONSIDER WHO IS SAYING...."

Oh..sorry..since Hazrat Ali (R,H) was not a ROSHAN KHAYAL..so you guys for sure not read his quotes. Anyway..

so basically there is a group in our country (call themselves ROSHAN KHAYAL lately) which has decided to OPPOSE every single person out there.. doing any notable thing to try to create a confident or better image of Pakistan.
(OBVIOUSLY YOUR DEFINITION OF CONFIDENT AND BETTER IMAGE OF PAKISTAN IS VEENA MALIK :P )

If some corrupt person apologizes for his corruption or take a stand for something that can be beneficial to our nation....
you guys start digging his past to prove that he is not sincere and his act should not be appreciated. You guys start defaming him with every possible way.

Its somewhat like if a robber condemns a rape, as per your ROSHAN KHAYAL ideology, he is lying and acting and then you start digging data regarding his character, his past, etc to prove that people SHOULD NOT LISTEN TO THAT ROBBER....

I wonder why there is no post from you guys regarding "USA SHOULD attack Pakistan to rescue MR RAYMOND DAVIS" after all USA is a Roshan khayal and it has every right on the earth to do so :P

Thats basically what FREE MEDIA has done :)
every single ROSHAN KHAYAL teenager is trying to GO AGAINST anyone who got some attention ..:P .. basically you are doing the same....

WHY HE .... WHY NOT ME :P


@Anonymous aka BRAVE ROSHAN KHAYAL
dude why are you doing everything humanly (even non-humanly) possible to prove that raymond thing ..oh sorry... MR RAYMOND DAVIS.... has a diplomatic passport :P ...I mean even Pakistan Foreign Minister & Ministry itself has not issued an official statement yet,.,but you are trying like a fanatic ...oh sorry...i meant... ROSHAN KHAYAL ...to prove that he has one...I guess YOU issued that DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT to davis :P
calm down kiddo :P seems that you are reading cafe piyala a lot :P


AND WAITTTTT...LOOK WHO IS TALKING BOUT EGO...hahahah

Taliban said...

ops... sorry for the double comment bro

my browser thingy has got some cache problems I guess..

sorry for it :)

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