Ahmed Quraishi’s Bizarre Coup Fetish Ahmed’s column today, ‘The next intervention’, is a reprise of his call earlier this year for one more military coup. As an aside, I always laugh when I read that headline about ‘one last military intervention’. Ahmed Quraishi sounds like an alcohol addict asking for just one more drink and then he will quit.
Despite being a long-time and very public supporter of Gen. Musharraf and a vocal opponent of democracy, Ahmed Quraishi seems to be trying to reinvent himself. This is what Ahmed Quraishi had to say about Gen. Musharraf before the 2008 elections:
An educated, presentable, and nationalistic middle class Pakistani citizen cannot lead Pakistan. Our ‘democracy’ won’t allow it. Unless, of course, he comes through a military coup like President Pervez Musharraf did. As a Pakistani citizen, I will vote anytime for a Pakistani leader who does not own a house and a list of bank accounts abroad. These days, only President Musharraf fits the bill. For all his real and imaginary sins – and embroiled in what is supposed to be his toughest moment in power – he continues to outshine those feudal lords, wealthy industrialists and family-run political parties that want to see him out.
Personality cults are the lowest and the most primitive forms of governance. But when our twisted democracy thrusts on us civilian personality cults and civilian dictators who prefer a 19-year-old to giving a chance to other ordinary Pakistanis, then forgive me if – as a young Pakistani citizen – I believe that Mr. Musharraf, with his failings and strengths, is a leader that I admire, even if I disagree with a couple of his policies, which is my democratic right.
The irony of claiming his ‘democratic right’ in an article where he is praising a military dictator appears to be lost on Ahmed, though it is not lost on me.
Ahmed Quraishi even condemns the Lawyers’ Movement for challenging his mentor, Musharraf:
President Musharraf is not more important than Pakistan. The unnatural and manufactured crisis over his presidency is a crime against Pakistan’s interests, where energies are being wasted on a nonissue. And what a lawyers’ movement we have. Those supporting it in good faith should know that the politician leading your movement helped Benazir Bhutto exploit the movement to negotiate a better NRO deal. The movement was long hijacked by vested political interest. No one in his right mind sees any victory for the rule of law. If anyone wins in the end, it will be this shallow and corrupt political system.
Even the media are lashed by Ahmed’s poisoned pen for failing to support his beloved Musharraf:
These days, President Musharraf, an upright soldier of Pakistan who gave his best, is under attack from all sides. With a stroke of a pen, he gave birth to Pakistan’s vibrant television news business. Today, when he needs support, he doesn’t even have people on his payroll – like dictators normally do – who could get his side of the story out. He never did. If that was his style, independent news channels wouldn’t be out there today without kickbacks paid into some offshore company account.
That he is now claiming to be worried about a free press is laughable.
Do not think this was some accident, a one-time mistake. Actually, Ahmed Quraishi wrote extensively praising Musharraf.
All The Tough Questions: Why Musharraf Is A Safer Bet For Pakistan, by Ahmed Quraishi:
The fairest election in Pakistan’s history has restored respect for the Pakistani military, transferred the rising burden of governance to politicians, cut Musharraf’s false allies to size, and empowered the coming parliament to guard Pakistan’s strategic interest in the wider region.
It’s a welcome transition.
Only two inherent threats to democracy exist now. The first one stems from disturbing signals coming from politicians that indicate a desire to pursue politics of revenge. This includes the unnecessary digging into the past—Mr. Asif Zardari demanding an ‘apology’ for the judicial trial and hanging of former premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – from who? – and Mr. Nawaz Sharif demanding the return of a deposed chief justice.
You may want to take a moment to read that again. According to Ahmed Quraishi, Musharraf was elected in ‘the fairest election in Pakistan’s history’ and the threats to democracy were Zardari asking for investigation of ZAB’s murder and Nawaz Sharif demanding return of Chief Justice. Amazing. That’s not to say that Ahmed Quraishi has not criticised Pervez Musharraf in the past. In fact, he wrote a column calling on Musharraf to execute Aitezaz Ahsan, Iftikhar Chaudhry in which he criticsed Musharraf for saying he would trasnsition the country to democracy.
PROSECUTE (AND THEN EXECUTE) THESE LAWYERS, by Ahmed Quraishi:
I have been one of a handful of Pakistani commentators who have been urging President Musharraf for the past five years not to prematurely restore democracy and focus instead on reforming the political system, improving the constitution, and cleanse the system through harsh accountability. Today, we are reaping the rewards of that premature decision in Fall 2002.
Today, howewver, Ahmed Quraishi is singing a different tune. In his column today for The News, he writes:
This situation might suit the Pakistani military, for good reasons. There is no question that Mr Pervez Musharraf left behind a sordid strategic situation where Pakistan was relegated from confronting a worthy adversary like India to fighting insurgencies that popped up from nowhere, and the PakMil, as the Americans like to call it, was demoted to cleaning up the American mess. Since Mr Musharraf’s escape, the Pakistani military leadership did a tremendous job of juggling many balls in the air and gradually improving Pakistan’s geostrategic position over the past two years. This transformation is a credit to the Pakistani military leadership.
Is this the same Ahmed Quraishi who did nothing but sing the praises of Gen. Musharraf for so many years? What is also particularly strange is how Ahmed Quraishi refers to “confronting a worthy adversary like India to fighting insurgencies that popped up from nowhere”. Ahmed’s military fetish is on full display here. How can any sensible person wish for a confrontation with India? Only someone that does not understand the sacrifice that our soldiers make every day would wish for such a thing.
And how does he believe that militant groups have ‘popped up from nowhere’? This is not only willfully ignorant, it is an insult to our Army that is every day fighting these same militants and our fellow citizens who are every day being murdered to suggest that militants are figments of the imagination.
It is understood that Ahmed Quraishi never did military service, so his fetish for militarism is based in fantasy only. And his refusal to face facts about the evolution of jihadi groups that were formed and supported by CIA and ISI is well known, but saying they ‘popped up from nowhere’ is certainly strange. Is this another example of Ahmed Quraishi giving his support to jihadi militants? Or is he just so out of touch that he does not have any idea what he talking about?
But at the end of everything, we must ask why Ahmed Quraishi insists on attempting to politicise the military. Why he is always trying to instigate a clash between military and civilian government? Gen. Kayani has been an ardent supporter of democracy and has insisted that military respects the civilian government. If Ahmed Qureshi really respected the military, wouldn’t he respect the COAS and his wish to keep the military out of politics? So why does he continue to push this line of ‘military should depose the elected government’?
If Ahmed Quraishi ever had any credibility, it is completely gone now.