By Syed Wajid Ali
Maybe you’re not familiar with this colorful expression, which is commonly used among some minority groups in the US. The phrase refers to the tendency of some people in a group to do their utmost to keep others from rising to the top – literally clawing their neighbors to prevent their success.
While quintessentially American, this phrase fits Pakistanis to a T. Let’s face it, we tend to make hue and cry over petty issues and outrageously criticize others – regardless of truth – without any knowledge and understanding of things.
I received this email last week about the Foreign Minister’s son along with his Business Card. The subject line of the email reads:
<b>Re: Business Card of Pak Foreign Minister’s Son, Employee of Sen. John Kerry </b>
The email reads:
<i>Please find the Business Card of our Foreign Minister’s son who is employed at the office of Sen. John Kerry, the main sponsor of the controversial Kerry Lugar Bill.
Let’s see how he will deal boss of his son who is on a visit to Pakistan. </i>
The response from a “senior” journalist was:
<i> I think each and everybody who has so far commented on the issue, dont know basics of nature of Assignment of Mr (younger)Qureshi. US think tanks and lobbiests usually attract Research Associates from the respective counties, which are deemed to be benficiary or effectees of the findings of their research which provide foundations of the forthcoming US policy.
So what Mr younger Qureshi had suggested, is very much obvious in shape of K L Bill. Without going into merits or de merits of K L Bills, becoming a reserach associate is an honour for any individual selected for this assignment.
Now you must understand that why the senior Qureshi was declaring it as a “historic achievement”. If father will not appreciate the achievements of his son who else will do?
Cheers to Pir Sain </i>
My response to the initial idiotic email was as follows:
“The business card attached clearly says that the guy is a “Fellow”, which is a glorified internship in a Government office. Just like Fulbright Scholarship, it takes months of study and hard work to land in such a competitive position.
First off, the KL Bill was drafted last year when George Bush was the President. The legislation was approved this year. There is no evidence that young Qureshi had any input in the final bill nor is it likely, given the nature of his temporary job, that he had anything to do with any aspect of its content.
Secondly, any person can apply for a fellowship at the Hill, if he’s up to it. A legislative fellow is either a student or a professional who is sponsored by a US organization to work in the office of a member of Congress or other Government office for a period ranging from 6 to 12 months. The fellows are not employees and are paid a small stipend. The whole idea of the fellowship is to learn the legislative process. They are basically there to learn rather than working as a consultant.
It is good that Zain, being a Pakistani, is working with a Senator who is interested in Pakistan. Zain may actually help the Senator get a better idea of Pakistan, its people and its politics. ”
I assumed someone would come forward after realizing the initial misunderstanding of a Fellow’s duties and would say something like: “Oh sorry, I didnt know this” or “hmm – interesting, I never actually thought that way” – but instead the dialogue went rapidly downhill. The responses accused the “Fellow” of all manner of intrigues and suggested that not only did the Foreign Minister get his son hired at the Senator’s office, but that the younger Qureshi hatched a Machiavellian plot to propose a “Kerry Lugar Bill” and incorporate radical anti-Pakistan elements into it. Those who came up with this wild conspiracy theory did not explain why the Foreign Minister would find it necessary to plant his son as a mole, nor did they realize how insulting it was to suggest that it was the son, rather than the father, who called the shots in this important bill, nor what the son’s motivation would be in humiliating his native land. But no matter. If Glenn Beck’s success has proven anything it’s that you don’t have to be educated or informed to get people to listen to what you say; as a matter of fact, trying to engage in rational, civilized discourse actually gets your point of view dismissed.
Later, the instigator of this email chain shamelessly, again without any research, added:
<i>Don’t you guys see this situation as “Conflict of Interest”? One side is people of Pakistan who dont like this bill and other side is his son who works for the sponsor of the bill.
“The News International” has reported that Mr. Zain is no more working with Sen. Kerry. The journalist raised the questions; Why has ZHQ gone into hiding? Did he do something wrong? </i>
Hiding? No one for a second thought that he might have left because of these emails, or undue pressure? Or that he didn’t care what a bunch of ignorant, jealous and petty people on an inconsequential e-mail chain though? Or that maybe he just finished his fellowship and went on vacation? Is this arrogance, ignorance or merely sheer stupidity?
I ought to say someone cost Pakistan a talented guy who now has valuable knowledge of the inner workings of the legislative system of the world’s most powerful country. It doesn’t matter whose son he is. But if one of you is the conspiracy theorist, congratulate itself: You just proved yourself more patriotic than the rest of us.