How Qureshi's Son Was Appointed In Kerry's Office

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Oct 21, 2009, 4:57:27 PM10/21/09

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How Qureshi's Son Was Appointed In Kerry's Office


Let's just hope that he lost Pakistan's case on the Kerry-Lugar bill because of personal lack of conviction than a soft corner for Mr. Kerry who gave his son a job in a powerful place.





Wednesday, 21 October 2009.



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Normally, it would be great to have a Pakistani citizen join the staff of a powerful US legislator like John Kerry, the former presidential candidate, chairman of the US senate foreign relations committee and the man who was being considered for Obama's secretary of state before Hillary got the job.


It is another thing, however, if this Pakistani turns out to be the son of a serving Foreign Pakistani Minister working in the office of Mr. Kerry, the sponsor of the Kerry-Lugar bill with which most Pakistanis have a problem. 


There is a strong hint here of impropriety and conflict of interest.


The problem can be summed up in this question: Mr. Qureshi is supposed to be protecting Pakistani interest at a time when the US-Pakistani ties are going through a rough patch.  Does having his son work for Mr. Kerry create a conflict of interest for Foreign Minister Qureshi?


If you are a father, you develop a soft corner for the powerful man who has given your son an entry job in a powerful place. 


Did this natural gratitude affect Foreign Minister's judgment as he tried to manage the controversy over Kerry-Lugar bill?


Most observers agree that Foreign Minister Qureshi's performance in the Kerry-Lugar bill fiasco was weak, to put it mildly.  He refused to acknowledge Pakistani concerns and showered grandiose praise on the bill.  When he returned to Pakistan and was told of the reservations, he chose to go back to the United States supposedly to press for Pakistan's rights.  Only that he was sidelined in no time and forced to accept an 'explanatory' note instead.  And again he showered exaggerated praise on the note, calling it 'historic'. 


Some in Pakistan rightly suspect he did not even press Mr. Kerry on Pakistan's reservations mainly because his government in Islamabad couldn't care less.  It was the Pakistani military, opposition parties and the public opinion's demand and Mr. Qureshi's government was alone in accepting the anti-military US conditions.


Did Mr. Qureshi not fight Pakistan's case as strongly as he could because he was not convinced or because Mr. Kerry gave his son a big break?


Others have also noticed this.


Longtime journalist Anjum Niaz, in her column The Boston Brahmin published in today's The News, wrote the following:


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 […] Would he have given ZHQ the time of the day had the young man not been the son of Pakistan's foreign minister?"



The impression that something is not right in Mr. Qureshi being Pakistan's foreign minister while his son works for Sen. Kerry is also underlined by how Mr. Qureshi's brother has reacted to the story.  An Urdu-language daily newspaper, the Express, quoted the brother as saying that members of his feudal land-owning family 'does not seek employment' anywhere.  He said this while denying his nephew was 'employed' by Sen. Kerry.


There is also an interesting background to how Qureshi Jr. got the job on Capitol Hill.


This version of the story is not verified but comes from a knowledgeable source at the Pakistani Foreign Office:


"Shah Mahmood Qureshi's relations with Haqqani had become very tense in the early part of this year. During Zardari's for AFPAK consultations, Qureshi and Haqqani had a shouting match because the ambassador had sent something to the president without going through the foreign minister. Haqqani had direct line to Zardari, and he had some of Qureshi's decisions reversed. After the Long March when Zardari became a little weaker and Yousaf Raza Gilani a bit stronger, Haqqani decided to patch up with Qureshi. What did Haqqani do: He used his contacts with Kerry and had Qureshi's son appointed as his intern. With that favour, Qureshi has no more complaints against Haqqani.  So powerful is Haqqani that he has never allowed Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to set foot in Washington. 


Whatever the truth, two points are clear:


One, Foreign Minister Qureshi should have had the courage to refuse to fly back to Washington to renegotiate the controversial anti-Pakistan clauses if he was not personally convinced.  That he did so merely to placate the powerful Pakistani military reflects poorly on his record.


Second, his son's internship in Sen. Kerry's office raises a legitimate question of a conflict of interest. Mr. Qureshi should have seen this one coming since he is known to be an upright politician by the standards of politicians in this country. 


Let's just hope that he lost Pakistan's case on the Kerry-Lugar bill because of personal lack of conviction than a soft corner for Mr. Kerry.


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