Curtain Call For SMQ Please

Shah Mehmood Qureshi is an accomplished, intelligent, respectable man from a respectable family. So why is he now prancing around the stage like an actor in a traveling show?

Zafar Hilaly had the same reaction to SMQ’s traveling show.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s performance at his press conference on February 16 deserved a curtain call. His vocation should have been the stage, rather than politics. The affected manner, the dramatic pauses, the contrived humility, letting his expression suggest what words cannot, the fact that he did not actually cry while he made his audience think that he was crying were all expressions of that neurotic impulse that actors develop for the stage. Perhaps if Qureshi really wants to be taken seriously, he should quit acting because that would be a sign of maturity.

The former Ambassador Hilaly also makes some points worth thinking about regarding SMQ’s newly acquired position on the Raymond Davis case.

Qureshi made much of the fact that he had refused to be pressurised by his own party leaders on Raymond Davis because he did not want to be a party to the killing of ‘innocent’ Pakistanis. Indeed, if the victims are found to be innocent, that would be justifiable cause for elation. However, at the time that he was ‘heroically’ resisting such pressure, and even now, it is by no means certain that the two motorcyclists were entirely innocent. When Qureshi declared them innocent, not even the police had made up their minds, what to speak of the court where the trial has yet to begin. Was he trying to say that he knew that Davis is a homicidal maniac because who else will kill people merely because they were hanging around his car?

As for the ‘consultations’ that Qureshi claims he had with ‘experts’ of other departments before arriving at his conclusions, two of those departments, the interior ministry and presumably the intelligence agencies, would have known next to nothing about the Vienna Conventions. As for the legal wing of the Foreign Office, if those manning it had been remotely competent, they would have made their living at the Bar.

Qureshi would have been better advised to have got expert advice not from his subordinates but from independent experts of repute. Had he done so, he would have realised that the entire matter of the status of Raymond Davis hinged on the fact of whether he was a member of the technical and administrative staff of the embassy, as the Americans claim, in which case he has blanket immunity, or whether he is a consular official attached to the US consulate, in which case he does not.

While we continue to sit and wait for a conclusion to the Raymond Davis Distraction, we need less, not more play acting and whipping up of emotions on the subject. The ex-Foreign Minister may be annoyed with his former bosses, but I beg of him not to take it out on the rest of  us. Please, sir, you will do both yourself and your country the best by taking the high road and make any commentary on issues with reason, not dramatic performances.

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