No spin zone: Cooking factsAnjum Niaz - Sunday, February 27, 2011

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Everybody is busy cooking facts; blatantly lying; spinning stories; whitewashing crucible proof; cowering behind shadowy phantoms of fear. The tattily-tangled TV channels are the worst. A bunch of armchair, soft-headed, out-of-the-loop anchors and commentators pronounce nightly judgments on Raymond Davis, allegedly an American hired-gun contracted by the CIA as their spymaster with an ambiguous diplomatic status.

Watching these know-nothings is a waste of time. Whipping mass hysteria, these simple souls think they can crush America by wagging a finger and waving a fist at the world’s most powerful country. “We’ll eat grass, but not let America dictate to us” is the common refrain filling the frenzied, charged air. If truth be told, no one knows except two entities: our establishment (a handful few), and Hillary Clinton. The rest of us are gropers in the dark. The fog in our Foreign Office and the US State Department is so thick that neither has the foggiest idea on how to handle ‘Lahoregate’.

At his maiden ‘coming out’ press conference in Islamabad recently, Shah Mehmud Qureshi looked more like a bull fighter than a dumped foreign minister. The matador de toros (killer of bulls) wanted to slay the bull (America) by declaring that Raymond Davis does not enjoy “blanket” diplomatic immunity. Like the matador whose bullfighting is not considered a sport but an artistic performance, the flinty-eyed Qureshi showed the red rag to the bull, carefully modulating his tone and tenor to make sure that his message did not escape any ears, particularly the PPP’s supreme headquarters.

“He is propped by a very powerful presence that wants America on its bended knees,” think some who say Qureshi has turned into a steam engine railroading his way to Washington “via Pakistan’s epicentre of power.” His snub to Kerry who was here recently is like a declaration of war with America.

Lest we forget, Zain H. Qureshi, who two years ago hit the headlines when his business card stated him as working for Senator John Kerry as a “Legislative Fellow” when his father was in talks with Washington on the famous Kerry Lugar Bill (KLB). I was in the US and called the senator’s office to confirm the news item appearing in the Pakistani press. The voice at the other end immediately said, “He does not work for us”. The woman appeared primed for such a question. After several aborted attempts, I finally found out from one of Kerry’s male staffers that Zain did indeed work for Kerry but had now left. Getting his son a job with Kerry when the KLB talks were at a critical stage was politically incorrect. Would one not call this a conflict of interest?

Senator Kerry is a ‘Boston Brahmin’. He’s from New England aristocracy, like the Makhdooms of Multan, i.e. Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his tribe. Kerry’s claim to fame is blue-blooded ancestry, wealth, influence and the right to rule. Kerry 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.”

Why, then, didn’t Kerry practise what he preached. Would he have given Zain Qureshi the time of the day had the young man not been the son of Pakistan’s foreign minister?

Is ‘Lahoregate’ the biggest scandal in US foreign relations since America’s spy plane U-2 was shot down over the Soviet Union territory in 1960? I well remember the scolding/veiled threat that Pakistan got from Premier Nikita Khrushchev for allowing the CIA plane to take off from its air force base near Peshawar. The affair gave President Ayub a bloody nose!

“There are clear indications that there is much more to the Raymond Davis affair than the Pakistanis are letting on,” alleges a blogger. “This isn’t about murder and diplomatic immunity. Something is very wrong with this picture, and Islamabad is tightlipped because it now has evidence that Davis allegedly linked with terrorists and some of the terror activities that have been happening in Pakistan. They have already released the pictures of the equipment and the evidence that they have gathered. Of course they are still holding on to the juiciest details.”

This is exactly the kind of background briefing that the Foreign Office gave well before Raymond Davis became a household name. The front-page Dawn story (Jan 16, 2011) reported the concerns Gen Kayani had conveyed to President Obama on America’s “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, disrespect for Islam; much-touted American inner desire to de-fang and destabilise Pakistan.”

The official who gave the briefing cautioned the US against “economically squeezing Pakistan, destabilising it and disturbing the societal balance.” His blunt message: “Do not try to turn Pakistan into a battlefield” while listing incidents in Karachi, the Data Darbar bombing, sectarian strife and bomb attacks as part of what could be described as an international conspiracy.”

A thunderbolt sent direct to America from the GHQ and the Foreign Office should have had alarm bells ringing in the media circles. Not so. Not a whimper followed from wiseacres weighing in on US-Pakistan relations in the aftermath of Raymond Davis affair.

Meanwhile ‘Raymon(d) Malik’ as Kerry called him when he arrived in Lahore and addressed a press conference, is busy as a bee collecting scraps of information that Nawaz Sharif and bro Shahbaz hold close to their chests. To add more confusion to the case, they have instructed their minions to issue press warnings like “Davis may be killed, even by the CIA”!

John le Carre, Tom Clancy, Graham Greene and Ian Fleming, who have gripped us with their spy thrillers on international espionage, may have solved Davis mystery instead of our present bewildered media analysts.

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