The Raoof Hasan Fiasco

Feb 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories, Pakistan Today

Pakistan TodayWhen I posted about the death of the Visa Conspiracy I wondered who would be the first person to dig the grave and drag the rotting corpse back out for one final blow. I must admit I was surprised, though, to see it not from one of the usual suspects but from CM Shahbaz Sharif’s media consultant Raoof Hasan. And yet, there it is in black and white for all the world to see, a political operative on the pages of Pakistan Today blatantly trading on the name of the Chief Minister Punjab and hacking away at the smelling corpse of a conspiracy theory only long since dead and buried.

After announcing that Raymond Davis “is not a diplomat and does not enjoy immunity” (who knew that Raoof Hasan is not only media consultant to CM Punjab but also serves as the new Foreign Minister?), Raoof proceeds directly to energetically flogging the conspiracy theory.

There are scores of other Raymonds roaming the roads of Pakistan. Most of them have entered the country on the basis of special visas granted by the president’s man in Washington – one Mr. Hussain Haqqani. The choice diplomat has been taking pains to explain that all visas to the Americans were issued with due authorisation. That does not exonerate Mr. Haqqani from culpability. It only proves that there were others involved in the scam also!

As a reminder, here is the press conference of Ambassador Husain Haqqani that Mr Raoof Hasan is referring to:

Yes, the Ambassador did “explain that all visas to the Americans were issued with due authorisation”, and he did so by opening the books and providing the facts and data to journalists. One might request that if Raoof Hasan is going to contradict the Ambassador’s evidence he would please provide his own evidence of these “scores of Raymonds roaming the roads of Pakistan”. If he could provide some actual IDs, then surely we can have them declared ‘persona non grata’ and removed before they do any harm. If he cannot provide any IDs then could it be that he is simply making it up?

Raoof Hasan

Raoof Hasan

According to Raoof Hasan, the streets are crawling with Raymond Davis’s and the halls of power are packed with conspirators. Raoof Hasan knows this, but he cannot provide any data, any facts, or any actual names of the invaders or the conspirators either. But no matter, he has learned well the lesson of the master media manipulator: “All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

Raoof’s response to Ambassador Haqqani’s opening the books and providing evidence that buries the dead horse once and for all is actually rather pathetic as well. According to Raoof, if the Ambassador has proof that all visas were issued with due authorisation then it only means that more people must be involved in the conspiracy! No amount of facts will matter because Raoof Hasan has made up his mind. Please. This is not serious analysis, it is political hackery only.

What is most curious about this bit of paranoid propaganda, however, is that it is attributed to Raoof Hasan not as ‘political analyst’ which is his usual by line for articles in The News but as ‘media consultant to the Chief Minister, Punjab’. It must be asked then if Shahbaz Sharif is aware that Raoof Hasan is trading on his name and this the official position of Shahbaz Sharif and the Punjab government also?

Whatever the answer, one question remains. After the evidence is provided, why did the editors at Pakistan Today agree to run such a piece that clearly ignores facts and data only to promote a discredited conspiracy theory invented to cause fear in the public? When Arif Nizami decided to launch his newspaper, there was some question as to whether he would provide a fact-based alternative to the paranoid Nazariya-e-Pakistan content of uncle Majeed’s newspaper. That is something certainly needed. What is not needed is another media group promoting paranoid conspiracy theories.

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  1. Zain Qureshi, Son of Pakistani Foreign Shah Mahmood Qureshi is Employee of Senator John Kerry!!!

  2. The Kerry-Qureshi Ruckus

    Such a ruckus about the son of Pakistani Foreign Minister being an intern with Senator John Kerry of US Senate! After a host of blogs, columns and news items on spreadsheets and on cyberspace, I could not make out what exactly is the problem with a young kid getting education in one of US institutions, and getting a fellowship in US Senate? A friend Mosharraf Zaidi resolved it for me this morning by citing a column by Ms. Anjum Niaz, an experienced journalist turned columnist.

    A scanned image of the visiting card of Mr. Zain H. Qureshi, son of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has been in circulation among the ‘Twitteretti’ and cyber-based social networks ever since Jang group gave it prime printed and airspace. The image shows Mr. Zain as a Legislative Fellow with Senator John Kerry in US Senate. The propaganda had been done as if the intern son of the Foreign Minister has been a key factor in government’s support of recent media-inflated Kerry-Lugar Bill. The impression was also given as if this ‘great favour’ was won by Qureshi, in lieu of his ‘baseless’ support to KLB.

    Ms. Anjum has come up with a little piece of research for us before terming it a “conflict of Interest”. She, probably the only one who cared to do this before publicly mudslinging on Mr. Qureshi, was responsible enough to make a call on the numbers given in the card. The cell number, as her research goes, “ . . . on ZHQ’s call card has been disconnected; while the mail box belonging to “Zain Qureshi” was “full!” So, I couldn’t get to him”. But she did not give up. A professional journalist she is. She tried to make calls to Senator Kerry’s office, and after “a number of calls” she finally got connected to a male staffer of the Senator (as if Senator’s office knew she’s going to call so they must not take the call . .. so she had to make “number of calls”). Without doubting the credibility of as professional a journalist as Ms. Niaz, let’s put no questions to what she has written in her column dedicated to the Foreign Minister’s son.

    So she made calls, I mean number of calls, and found out that Mr. Zain had indeed worked for Senator’s office, but he doesn’t now. Brilliant work indeed. But one thing was missing, the staffers did not tell her, what capacity Zain was working there. Probably she forgot to ask, or maybe it was just not important. Because someone just wanted to blow up the fact that the young Qureshi was associated with Kerry. Nothing else. And Ms. Niaz in very supportive cooperation with our media pundits did not take long before making it news of the hour.

    Why do I say that? Because anyone with an average level of intelligence and with half an hour of close watch on Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB) debate in Pakistan, could tell where the criticism has been coming from. Without going into the details of KLB for it has been discussed and swollen in Pakistani media to serve those who were not given a good share from the cake of the AID for the first time in Pak-US Aid history.

    Coming back to the fellowship issue, the issue would appear rather strange, if we examine how these fellowships are awarded. Anyone who’s familiar with the system would know that Senate does not offer these fellowships, nor do individual Senators unless they offer it for their own firms, companies and offices. In that case, the interns are not given visiting cards bearing Senate insignia. Since the circulated image of ZHQ’s card bears one, we would assume he was neither an employee nor an intern employed by Senator Kerry in his private capacity.

    Senate of US does not allocate budget to support these fellows and interns for individual members. What happens is, the associations, organizations and Foundations who work in close association with the educational institutions and the Congress, often offer these internships and also pay for them. According to a “How to do” website for students of American Universities “there are several organizations out there who want to get their little protégés up the steps and onto the Hill”. Students often search for the best fellowship that mirrors them and their ideals in best possible manner, for example, AGU Science and Society or American Association for the Advancement of Science for science fellowships etc. Students contact the American Political Science Association for fellowships through its organization; the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation or the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies for minority fellowship possibilities. There are many other fellowships ranging from religious issues to nuclear science fellowships in Congress.

    The stipend / pay for these fellowships differs on where the funding is coming from and the duration of these fellowships in turn differs on how much the budget is. In many such fellowships, the awarded is even expected to raise funds for not only his/her stipend, but also for the Foundation. We can understand what the fellowship expects of the Fellow simply, you are working in Congress and usually for a congressman, but you are paid by another employer. It is usually the employer in consultation with the congressman who decides about the jobs description of the Fellow.

    Having explained all this, I fail to understand, where does this issue of “conflict of Interest” stem from? In order to understand this, we may recall the introductory lines that usually appear before Ms. Niaz’s columns: “First Pakistani woman to qualify under US Government Immigration as possessing Extraordinary Ability in Journalism, Coordinator at Johns Hopkins University and a Board Director The Population Institute in Washington DC”. Well, that raises some questions about how come a knowledge beneficiary of American education system, speak so loudly about it? In one of the columns Ms. Niaz is accusing US of hatching a conspiracy against democracy in Pakistan by developing rifts between Zardari and the army through KLB, on the other hand she is becoming an implement with those trying to prove that KLB is a conspiracy against Pakistan and Zardari and his cabinet (read Shah Mehmood Qureshi) is the part of that conspiracy. Oh Ms. Niaz, you need to put your mind and your pen in the right place. And so should the Twettering and ‘FaceBook’ing intellectual elite of Pakistan.

  3. Oct24 Thanks for sharing Dani. First of all I was relaly impressed with your style. You did a good job and kept the interview focussed. I am not convinced by Faisal’s answers. One point that struck me is that Speak for Change as I would like to perceive it is relaly a social cause. Yes, there are business elements attached to it, but if treated purely like a business case ( as Faisal was doing) it will remain a business. I don’t understand what is the point of speaking’ when we are relaly not moving towards any change’. His target market is the 20% elite class, he is giving a platform to people who already have the skills if not the resources to raise their voices. There is a whole buzz of voices on social media- twitter/ Facebook/ blogs. It seems to me he is just tapping into the market. I do agree with some of his points but frankly found his whole approach very impersonal. Some one who can dismiss more than 90% of their population by saying we’ the educated middle class are the ones who relaly have the vision and mind set to change does nothing to appeal to my passionate side or motivate me to write and speak out or share my views. Sorry to say, I find it another way of forming an elite’ club just going with the trend.

  4. The Boston Brahmin October 22, 2009

    UPDATE: Democracy International have clarified to PKKH they did not carry out the poll mentioned in this article. See full article for details.

    Anjum Niaz | The News

    Since all the worthy columnists have exhausted the KLB, the new name for the Kerry-Lugar Bill, I have nothing remarkable to add to their sound and fury. Let’s instead turn to a small housekeeping matter like: is Foreign Minister Qureshi’s son working for Senator Kerry? Zain H Qureshi’s (ZHQ) business card is circulating the cyberspace these days. It says that he is a legislative fellow in Kerry’s Washington DC office. When I called up Kerry’s office and asked for Qureshi, the voice at the other end immediately said, “He does not work for us”. The woman appeared primed for such a question. She said she had received a similar query earlier that day. Incidentally the cell number on ZHQ’s call card has been disconnected; while the mail box belonging to “Zain Qureshi” was “full!” So, I couldn’t get to him.

    After a number of phone calls to Senator Kerry’s office, I finally found out from one of Kerry’s male staffers that ZHQ did indeed work for Kerry but had now left. Why has ZHQ gone into hiding? Did he do something wrong? Yes. And the Foreign Office finds itself between a rock and a hard place. How can it condone its boss’s act of getting his son a job with Kerry when the KLB talks were at a critical stage? Even if fate smiles upon ZHQ because he’s the favoured son of our foreign minister and the doors of the high and mighty in Washington open up for him, we have the right to know whenever the son’s job compromises his dad’s position. More importantly if it is in direct conflict with Pakistan’s interests.

    Would you not call this a conflict of interest? Should the foreign minister resign? And if Zardari cannot afford to let him go, then the FM must seek a public apology.

    The Boston Brahmin, Senator Kerry is complicit in this act. Boston Brahmins are New England’s aristocracy like the Makhdooms of Multan, i.e. Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his tribe. These guys claim to fame is blue-blooded ancestry, wealth, influence and the right to rule. He said the following during his 2004 presidential campaign: “There’s a great passage in the Bible that says, ‘What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead.’ And I think everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith . That’s why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.”

    Senator Kerry must practice what he preaches. Would he have given ZHQ the time of the day had the young man not been the son of Pakistan’s foreign minister?

    Why do the good folks fighting Pakistan’s case in Washington DC become the usual suspects? In Musharraf’s time it was Dr Nasim Ashraf. One wondered whether the Maryland-based millionaire doctor’s heart bled for Pakistan or for Musharraf or for himself. Today, Ambassador Husain Haqqani is under fire from certain Pakistani quarters who accuse him of working for Washington and not Islamabad. Haqqani is hitting back via email messages to anyone wondering what’s cooking in Washington. Yours truly is one of the unlucky recipients. Surely our ambassador must have known that his boss’s son was working for Kerry. Good counselling from Haqqani to Qureshi would perhaps have saved the latter the embarrassment he is facing today?

    Another glaring example of how the Democrats are enticing the Pakistani leaders is the recent banner headline: “Zardari far ahead in popularity.” According to Democracy International, an affiliate of the Democratic Party of America, Zardari is ahead of Nawaz Sharif in the popularity contest. To anyone with an iota of intelligence, the timing of this screamer is suspect. What has Zardari achieved in recent days for “51 per cent” of Pakistanis to suddenly fall in love with him? His jiyalas, one fears, would declare October 1, the day the survey was announced, as the President’s Day – the day of the great revelation. Declaring it a public holiday perhaps?

    And when the polls go against the sitting president, these foreign busybodies are kicked out of Pakistan. Gen Musharraf asked IRI (the International Republican Institute), an affiliate of the Republican Party to wind up their office in Pakistan and leave when he got bad ratings from them. Not sure if indeed it was IRI that offended Musharraf, I called up their office in Washington. “What is your column about?” asked Lisa (I couldn’t catch her last name) from the press section. I told her politely that it was not possible for me to provide her details of my column. “If you can’t tell me what your column is about then I can’t help you,” she replied sternly. This is just a small example of how Masonic these polling outfits are. They think they have the writ to go around Pakistan poking their noses into our affairs, but when it comes to asking a simple question like if Musharraf asked them to wind up their office in 2008, they get so cagey.

    Sadly, the epicentre of our knowledge is the received wisdom from such dodgy polls conducted by Democracy International and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Hey, where’s Gallup Pakistan? Have we become so incompetent or doped that we can’t even conduct popularity polls in our own country and must therefore rely on America?

    We are the opium-eaters. We swallow whatever comes from Washington. While the Democrats tell us that Pakistanis love Zardari because of KLB, the Republicans via their polling affiliate the IRI sing a different tune. Their August polls conclude that “Pakistanis continue to hold onto the opinion that conditions in the country are problematic and President Zardari is perceived as being responsible.” If this does not sound confusing enough to an ordinary Pakistani trying to work out the popularity ratings of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, have another go. According to September 9 report in the Christian Science Monitor, “Zardari’s popularity sags – will it undermine Pakistan’s fight with Taliban?”

    Here’s another twister from the Los Angeles Times. The headline reads: “Zardari at fault for low rating?” This gem was published on August 31. “Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is aware that his popularity has sunk to new lows at a time when his arch rival Nawaz Sharif — who heads the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) — is boasting high popularity, a media report said. He is widely viewed in Pakistani society not as a helmsman, but a bystander. It’s an image that is largely of Zardari’s own making, say analysts who contend that he has failed to forge any kind of connection with the Pakistani public.Last but not the least is the recent poll by the Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based institute, which says that “less than a third of Pakistanis have a favourable opinion of Mr Zardari. The president was widely reviled after being accused of demanding kickbacks while he served in Benazir Bhutto’s Cabinet in the late 1980s and again starting in 1993.”

    Give us a break! If by now we don’t get it that the US is using these polls as a weapon for manipulation of third world dictators (Gen Musharraf) and corrupt rulers then Pakistan, I’m afraid to say, is going down the tube fast.

    Conflict of interest, eh? Here’s yet one more example. Do you know how many Pakistani parliamentarians and cabinet ministers hold foreign nationalities, including our president?

  5. Foreign Minister’s Son lobbying against Pakistan
    October 20, 2009

    Islamabad—The debate on the controversial John Kerry-Lugar Bill has taken a new critical turn after lawyer Ahmad Raza Kasuri revealed in a private television talk show that son of the foreign minister is on staff of Senator John Kerry in Washington, working as Legislative Fellow. Foreign Minister’s son Mr. Zain H. Qureshi’s assignment is clearly linked with John Kerry’s legislature work. Against this backdrop, foreign minister’s vociferous defence of John Kerry-Lugar Bill tends to lose all lustre.

    Political observers in the federal capital point out that the foreign minister might have been aware of the John Kerry-Lugar Bill’s formative stages through Mr. Zain H Qureshi. If that was the case the analysts have reason to ask as to what was the rationale of foreign minister’s rushing to Washington to seek “ clarification” or in-depth briefing from the horse’s mouth. If all this was Act One of a melodrama, Act Two was rushing back to Islamabad with John Kerry’s assurance. Based on that was foreign minister’s rhetorical statement in the parliament.

    The analysts say, supporters of the Bill are trying to weave a tale which at best can be termed as cow-and-bull story. They point to the posture of our ‘His Excellency’ in Washington, our ambassador Hussain Haqqani who sounds more like John Kerry’s spokesman than Pakistan’s envoy.

    Whatever the shades and shadows, the debate over the John Kerry-Lugar Bill will enter decisive phase very soon with foreign ministry cutting a sorry figure with embarrassment writ large on the faces of those trying to defend the Bill in the forefront”, one analyst observed.

    Pakistan observer

  6. Ugly Role of Jang Group/Express News, Shah Mehmood Qureshi & Zain Qureshi.

  7. This unchecked public service has made it too easy to manipulate the illiterate masses. Today, prominent news channels have rather dangerously attained the ability to sway public opinion (with their sometimes heavily opinionated broadcasting). From airing uncensored violence, showing political ‘cat fights’ to calling government functionaries the ‘Zardari mafia’, media ethics have often been kept at bay with the excuse of freedom of expression.
    While media freedom is still much celebrated in Pakistan and acts as the self-proclaimed savior of the Pakistani people, a combination of unprofessional news channels, political debates-cum-public-bashing-of-politicians and public brainwashing through airing loaded caricatures that call for moral righteousness, all point to the fact that the media industry in Pakistan is still very juvenile. Perhaps eight years is not long enough to attain maturity and professionalism. The media in Pakistan is fast turning into a self-serving (rather than public-serving) industry an industry that glorifies itself, is self-righteous and, most discomforting of all, has a huge persecution complex.

  8. Ever since the media in Pakistan was given freedom to air their views, we have seen these channels racing to be the first to expose Pakistan’s weaknesses. In fact, most of our leaders too keep telling us that Pakistan is in a state of collapse. This onslaught of the media against Pakistan is damaging the psyche of Pakistanis; it is making us feel inferior. This downward drift is encouraging our youngsters not to care for the image of Pakistan, which they perceive as being dark anyway. Nations have to be nurtured like children. One must not continuously berate a child. Most of us keep prodding the government to do more. Here is something we can do ourselves. We should follow this policy in our ‘drawing room politics’ and put moral pressure on the media to incorporate the same in their policies.

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