Ahmed Quraishi Criticizes VOA, Fails to Disclose He Asked VOA For Job

Nov 4th, 2009 | By | Category: The Nation

Last week, Ahmed Quraishi wrote in The Nation, “VOA takes over PBC?” While Mr. Quraishi was critical of the Voice of America (VOA), he failed to disclose that he previously applied for a job with the same agency.

In his article, Mr. Quraishi refers to the VOA as a “US propaganda network,” but a 2007 article by Shaista Sindhu reveals that Mr. Quraishi had previously applied for a job with VOA and been denied due to discrepancies with his resume.

During the course of applying for the VOA job, Ahmed Quraishi was actively promoted by the Government of Pakistan’s Secretary for Information and Broadcasting Anwar Mahmood who is a key figure in the Musharraf regime’s media handling for several years. Mr Mahmood made calls on Mr Quraishi’s behalf to the then head of VOA Urdu, Brian Silver, who was later removed from his position due to professional reasons.

Mr Silver and Mr Mahmood had worked closely in the run up to VOA getting permission to start an Urdu TV program on the Geo network. The United States government paid Geo for air time in a deal that has never been fully made public. Allegations that could not be independently verified suggest that a Pakistani media company close to Mr Mahmood acted as middle man betweenVOA and Geo at the time and the key individuals on both sides personally benefited from the financial arrangements.

Mr Mahmood also sought the help of VOA’s Islamabad correspondent Ayaz Gul to promote the case of Mr Quraishi. Several senior members of the media cell of inter Services Intelligence (ISI) also put in a good word on Ahmed Quraishi’s behalf. The ISI had earlier succeeded in securing a job at VOA Urdu TV for Faiz Rehman, a pro-government activist with close ties to the Pakistan embassy in Washington. Mr Rehman has now relinquished his job at VOA.

Mr. Quraishi goes on in his article to criticize PBC Director General Murtaza Solgani for having a “policy direction [that] betrays itself in the recent deal and might even be seen as running counter to what Pakistan should be pursuing in terms of its own public diplomacy,” despite his admitting that Solgani “is a professional radio journalist by the testimony of most of those who worked with him.” This is, as with his omission of his previous attempt at working for the organization, troubling as it suggests that Mr. Quraishi believes in a policy “political litmus test” for journalists. Such a test would clearly, especially in a government funded operation, result in a propaganda machine rather than an unbiased reporting outlet.

Mr. Quriashi’s failure to disclose his failed attempts to obtain a job with the VOA in an article represent a disconcerting lapse in journalistic ethics and should be soundly reprimanded by his supervisors at The Nation. In the future, we suggest Mr. Quraishi fully disclose any relationships he has had with a person or organization before he offers a critique.

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  2. […] one wonder if he had changed his principal occupation. After all, he has tried in the past to be an employee of Voice of America (VOA) and has also been a member of the American Political Consultants Association –both facts reported […]

  3. I emailed mr ahmed quraishi and he said this story by you here is a concoction. he says he turned down VOA’s offer and refused it which is on record. He also wrote to VOA seniors to complain about the personal behavior and attitude of Farahnaz Isfahani and that she was fired from her job as VOA employee a few weeks later.

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