Thursday, March 30, 2023
HomeOpinionLetter From PakistanGive Shah Mahmood Qureshi the Peace Nobel for Palestine ceasefire. Forget his...

Give Shah Mahmood Qureshi the Peace Nobel for Palestine ceasefire. Forget his CNN interview

CNN still got the best version of the Pakistani foreign minister, if his previous national television appearances are anything to go by.

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Kisses, blanket and ‘indecent’ activities aside, this is a tale of what we now know as a successful airplane ride. No, this isn’t the return flight of Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi from the United States. It could well have been, given the rousing hero’s welcome he received earlier this week. Why? For having upped the morale of the nation with his “deep pockets” remark, and that “they (Israelis) control media” assertion in a now-viral CNN interview. Then for being called out for anti-Semitic rhetoric in the same interview. Not to leave out his signature smirk and laugh, which is now a meme of our times.

An always agitated Qureshi in his 10-minute stay on CNN scored big when he corrected the news anchor that he was the foreign minister and not an ambassador. He was right, for who knows what she could have called him next — President of the United States? — anything looked possible in that moment. The foreign minister took it on himself to hold a mirror to the Western media. The irony is rather rich. Lecture the West while the media back home faces rampant censorship, assaults on journalists, and press freedom stoops every day.

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The hush on Uighur Muslims

When confronted with the question on the genocide of Uighur Muslims in China, Qureshi was clear that “we use our diplomatic channels. We do not discuss everything in public.” Which is actually surreal, because Prime Minister Imran Khan says he, frankly, doesn’t know much about that. Pakistan’s national security advisor is already 100 per cent satisfied that Uighurs are a “non-issue” and that the country has zero concerns. Does no one share notes with the foreign minister on these zero concerns?

On the CNN interview, Qureshi reiterated that he’s “never been anti-Semitic and…never will be”. But when you’re used to raking up emotions by making controversial statements — “Like Mahmud Ghaznavi, I have come out to destroy the Somnath temple” — and the crowd cheers you, you do tend to forget if it is CNN or a local jalsa.

CNN still got the best version of the foreign minister, if his previous national television appearances are anything to go by. ‘Deep pockets’ have been his concern without fail. Keeping an eye on those with ‘deep pockets’ should be seen as an occupational hazard for the career saint. Nothing anti-Semitic about that, right? Qureshi had once asked a news anchor if he was working on someone’s “agenda”, for he dared to question the minister on the tabling of a resolution on Kashmir in the United Nations Human Rights Council. On being pushed regarding his own statement and prime minister’s tweet that Pakistan has support of more than 50 UN members for a resolution, Qureshi had a meltdown and repeatedly asked the anchor to show him his tweet, “Abhi nikalo, abhi nikalo, I want my tweet”.

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Qureshi’s believe it or not

Being the top diplomat, if Qureshi tells you one day that Article 370 is India’s internal matter and of no interest to Pakistan, then believe him. Because two days later, he will tell you that it is not what he meant to say, when he said what he said. Believe that too. Same applies to his explanation on ‘are we talking to India, are we not?’ There is a back channel but that is not a formal channel because these people in the establishment are just updating each other on the situation. This actually sounds like India-Pakistan dating in Covid quarantine, each in their own home.

All the times you have been told that Pakistan is in no hurry to talk to India and that there are no secret talks with the help of the United Arab Emirates, believe all of it is true.

They “create storm in a teacup,” it is known to all by now that all controversies are India-made. Even the one in which the prime minister scolded Pakistani diplomats, noting that Indian embassies were more proactive or when the foreign minister was not holding his own umbrella on the visit of Russian counterpart. Chattri diplomacy is a new fad, it is not for everyone.

Haters will hate, but the recent yatra was a huge diplomatic win in a universe beyond anyone’s reach. That’s foreign minister Qureshi’s reach. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders and loyalists alike may have garlanded the minister, but the truth is he deserves nothing short of a Nobel Peace Prize. Why else do you think the Israeli Prime Minister agreed to a ceasefire? Winning Qureshi the title of “Mein Führer” with his supporters. It was the good public display of affection that we saw for the foreign minister — the red roses and the shabashi. After all, it is his theatrics that keep the show running and diplomatic wins coming.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

The column is a satire.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

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