What appeared to be a coordinated smear campaign targeting Najam Sethi last week continues, today with Ahmed Quraishi using a clip from Mubashir Luqman’s show of 26th September and continuing to fan the flames. But rather than discredit Najam Sethi, Ahmed Quraishi’s latest move does more to discredit the smear campaign itself.
Here’s what Ahmed Quraishi says about Najam Sethi’s accuser:
Mr. Abraham was considered to be close to the pro-US lobby in the Pakistani government. In DC, Mr. Abraham was close to Ambassador Husain Haqqani and key figures in the US State Department working to cultivate influence inside Pakistani media. He often acted as a mouthpiece for the pro-US lobby, promoting talking points that served US interests and those of the pro-US Pakistani government.
That quote was from a post on Ahmed Quraishi’s website titled, ‘Najam Sethi & Family Demonize Pakistan For US Passports’ – a claim that Cafe Pyala notes may open both Mubashir Luqman and now Ahmed Quraishi to defamation suits since other than the slanderous statements, no one has been able to produce a single piece of evidence suggesting it’s true.
Here’s the problem with Sami Abraham’s statement based on what Ahmed Quraishi says – Sami says that he knows the accusations against Najam Sethi are true because when he was in America he was part of a secret American conspiracy to buy Pakistani media. Now that he’s back in Pakistan, though, he’s apparently turned on his old conspirators and is now accusing Najam Sethi. In order to believe Sami Abraham, one has to be willing to accept the word of a man who says different things depending on who he’s talking to, which is not a great recipe for credibility.
But let’s take a look at some statements by Najam Sethi to see just what Mubashir Luqman and Ahmed Quraishi find so offensive. Here’s a quote from Sethi’s editorial in last week’s The Friday Times:
By next April, the Taliban will be ready for a major operation to decisively derail President Obama’s Afghanistan agenda when the US establishment will be focused on the presidential election. America will be in desperate straits. In order to thwart the Taliban’s summer agenda, therefore, America is most likely going to “do more” in its winter agenda before next summer. Short of American boots-on-ground in Waziristan, only Pakistani boots-on-ground will work. But if the Pakistani army is still unable or unwilling to oblige, then cruise missiles and high altitude bombing could be options.
Should that come to pass, however, the war in Afghanistan will spill over to a war in Pakistan. And that should be the last thing America or its Western allies would want.
We’re supposed to believe that this is demonizing Pakistan? If this is Najam Sethi’s plan to earn a US passport, I hope he doesn’t sell his house too quickly.
Now let’s take a look at the other person who keeps popping up in this smear campaign: Ahmed Quraishi.
It does seem a bit ironic that Ahmed Quraishi would find a problem with anyone who takes money to act as a mouthpiece for a foreign government since that’s what, by his own words, Ahmed Quraishi has built his career on. This is not an accusation, it’s what Quraishi himself is proud to say. According to his bio, “Recently, Mr. Quraishi has been commissioned for public policy outreach projects as a consultant, serving mostly government clients in the larger Middle East region, including Pakistan”.
What governments are these? Well, that’s not completely clear, though he does make quite a big deal about his connection to the rulers of his home country, Kuwait, where he “was born, raised and educated”. Actually, though, Mr Quraishi’s education is not quite clear, either. His longer bio says that “he briefly attended a business school but did not graduate in that discipline”, and says that as he was “not very interested in academia” he got involved in political commentary. Quraishi goes on to brag that he used his Pakistani heritage as a means of avoiding suspicion in Middle Eastern politics.
“He got away with most of it in a region infested with suspicious governments because, well, he was a Pakistani, which literally made it difficult for security officials to place him within Middle East’ confusing maze of political alliances and rivalries.”
Actually, Ahmed Quraishi has been playing something of a girgit (chameleon) for years. When his columns appear in Jang Group publications, his by line says he “works for Geo TV”, though his role at Geo TV is unclear. His short-lived TV show on Aag TV, (Thori Si Siyasat), was canceled over a year ago. But even before Ahmed Quraishi was given a show, he was against Geo TV, saying it, too, was a tool of American interests. It should be noted that Geo TV still has a contract with Voice of America.
What is all the more curious about Ahmed Quraishi’s alleged affiliation with Geo TV is that he himself claimed last year that he is “not a journalist anymore”. His claim to have abandoned journalism came soon after it was discovered that Ahmed Quraishi was a member of the ‘American Association of Political Consultants’.
Profile page for Ahmed Quraishi on website of American Association of Political Consultants
Though he claims he has never had one American client, which we are in no place to dispute, it does raise the question why he joined an American political consulting group that costs $250 USD (Rs. 21,855) per year for a single membership if he had no American clients.
Neither was this Ahmed Quraishi’s first dabbling in using media for political propaganda. In 2008, Ahmed Quraishi wrote that America was responsible for riots in Tibet. His by line then claimed that “He heads the Pakistan Task Force at FurmaanRealpolitik, an independent Pakistani think tank based in Islamabad”.
But Furmaan Realpolitik was not really a ‘think tank’, it was a PR business whose services included “Intelligence, Research & Analysis” and “Surveillance & Confidential Investigations”, and whose products “can be tailored to business, political and military requirements”. And what exactly were their products? According to their website, they sold, “Immaculate Deception Creations Tailored to Your Senses.” Subtle.
More recently, Ahmed Quraishi claims that he is a “Senior Research Fellow” with “Project for Pakistan in 21st Century and PakNationalists, which he recently claimed is a nationalist political lobbying group complete with volunteers and interns, but no known source of funding. He’s also on the Board of Advisors for PKKH, an “alternative policy institute and news service” associated with Hamid Gul, and Opinion-Maker.org, as well as assorted fake news sites like Views Times that published a column attacking Najam Sethi last week.
Though it’s not known who is funding Ahmed Quraishi’s current crop of “think tanks”, he seems to have Najam Sethi firmly in his sights, not only claiming that he is ‘demonizing Pakistan’ in order to get a US passport, but taking his accusations even further on his Facebook page and claiming that “Najam Sethi & Co. are claiming their share of the $40 MILLION that US govt has set aside to buy Pakistani media”. As usual, Ahmed Quraishi provides no evidence of this shocking claim, leaving us to wonder again if he is prepared to face a very expensive defamation lawsuit indeed.