Ayyan Ali and Ahmed Quraishi

Ayyan Ali’s appearance at University of Karachi drew a lot of laughs on social media, though the poor students who invited her are hardly laughing after being served notices by the University administration. There is nothing wrong with having a laugh at celebrities, though, and the appearance of a celebrity is not really indicative of the quality of studies at an institution, especially when she was invited on the behest of students who are young and probably don’t know any better. So why am I bringing this up? Because I am curious why such a hue and cry is made over Ayyan Ali while other celebrity appearances which are much more insidious are let to pass without comment.

A regular lecturer at National Defence University is none other than Ahmed Quraishi.

AQ-NDU-lecture

Doesn’t someone like Ahmed Quraishi giving lectures to civilian and military officers at NDU have much more significance than Ayyan Ali talking to some students? If you doubt this, please take a moment to understand what Ahmed Quraishi’s so-called ‘lectures’ really preach.

The definition of journalism is “a battle for public opinion”? “The press is our chief ideological weapon”? Never say anything that could embarrass your country?

From an academic standpoint, this is completely and utter non sense. That should not be a surprise, though, since Ahmed Quraishi has no academic training. Actually, that’s not quite true. While it’s true he is not a graduate of a journalism school, he does have some training. He is a graduate of Institute for Strategic Studies, Research & Analysis (ISSRA) National Security Workshop at NDU. This likely explains why Ahmed Quraishi’s understanding of journalism is so perverted: He sees media as a weapon of war, not an instrument of education. Effectively he is not a journalist, he is more like a media militant.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who’s had the misfortune to accidentally sit through one of Ahmed Quraishi’s programmes, but it is becomes dangerous when we realize that he is being used to train journalism students despite his complete lack of journalistic credentials. It would be too obvious to have every journalist required to attend National Security Workshops at NDU, but this is not necessary. Instead of training all journalists, they have taken the strategy to “train the trainers”. Students don’t have to go to NDU, because with Ahmed Quraishi, NDU goes to them. The result is that our already problematic media becomes even less trustworthy. Now it’s not just sensationalism for ratings sake, it’s sensationalism for ‘ideological defence’. Is there any wonder there is so much confusion?

I hope the powers that be at University of Karachi do not take any measures against the poor students that invited Ayyan Ali. The thrashing that the event has taken is more punishment than is enough, and surely those students will think twice or thrice before they make any future invitations. What concerns me more, however, is whether the people who are inviting the like of Ahmed Quraishi to warp young minds will ever find themselves feeling the shame that they have earned.

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