About Ahmed Quraishi.Com
Ahmed Quraishi is one of the youngest public policy commentators and broadcasters to have emerged in Pakistan since the country adopted a media liberalization policy in 2002. Until recently, he was hosting a talk show on state-run PTV that projected Pakistan’s foreign policy positions. His blog, AhmedQuraishi.com, is well known within the Pakistani media and Blogosphere communities, famous for informed and bold political commentary. Mr. Quraishi is the only Pakistani journalist so far to have done on-camera work in Arabic for the Qatar-based Aljazeera, and has covered Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Gulf, and Iraq. He has closely covered the U.S. military expansion in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, the post-Cold war subtle and tectonic shift of power in the region, and has interviewed all the principals in the Iraq story between 1991 and 2003, and has lived for six months inside Iraq in 2003. Recently, Mr. Quraishi has been commissioned for public policy outreach projects as a consultant, serving mostly government clients in the larger Middle East region, including Pakistan. He is a co-author most recently of The India Doctrine: 1947-2007. Mr. Quraishi has participated in academic exercises involving Pakistani and American militaries (2006), joined in a Sino-Pakistani academic exchange in Beijing (2005), and was the only representative from Pakistan to have sat in closed-door exchanges organized in Kuwait City by U.S. and Kuwaiti government institutions on strategies for post-Saddam Iraq (2000). Mr. Quraishi was born, raised and educated in Kuwait (1972). He is married to Aysha Mughal, an educationist, and they live in Islamabad with their son, Alwaleed.
This biography appeared in the Eurasian Media Forum 2009 Conference Guide, April 23-24, Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Ahmed Quraishi’s career began in 1993 in Kuwait City, during a fascinating period in the history of the greater Middle East region. The Americans had just opened military bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. This may sound normal now, but back then this was a huge shift. To understand how big a deal this was, consider this: Before the 1991 war, Kuwait was a bastion of Arab nationalism, fiercely anti-Iran, and the birth place of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The Kuwaitis in the 1970s used to vote in favor of PLO at the U.N., defying Washington.
After the U.S.-led war evicting the Iraqis from Kuwait, the Kuwaitis burned Palestinian flags, Iran was embraced as a possible friend, and Israel was seen in a different light across the region—as someone you can do business with, after all. During these interesting times, Mr. Quraishi was a young Pakistani journalist living in Middle East, melting comfortably into his surroundings thanks to his fluent spoken and written Arabic, and writing for the region’s freest media outlets. In short, assimilated like a native. He began lobbying at the age of 18. In December 1990, he wrote to then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, urging him to show leadership and counter attempts by Pakistani legislators aimed at forcing Islamabad to abandon the Coalition and side with Iraq in the 1991 Gulf war.
Mr. Sharif wrote back, confirming Pakistan would continue to side with the Coalition and that Pakistani soldiers will go to Saudi Arabia to defend our ally against foreign aggression by Iraq.
Mr. Quraishi’s association with the Middle East, in its broader sense, runs deep. His father, Abdel-Mughni bin Abdel-Qadir Quraishi, fought with the British army in Iraq during WWII, but, like most Pakistani soldiers, refused to serve in Jerusalem, resigning his post. On his way back from Iraq through Kuwait, he ended up working with the new emerging Kuwaiti government that led the emirate to independence from Britain. Like many Pakistanis with multicultural backgrounds, Mr. Quraishi’s family descends from the offspring of an Arab trader whose travels took him to the seats of power of Muslim sultanates. Some eight centuries ago, he came to Multan, then the capital of an Arab emirate that briefly flourished in Sind [modern Pakistan]. Later, he expanded his business to Delhi, the historic Mulsim-built capital of a series of Muslim dynasties that ruled the territory known today as India.
Mr. Quraishi was born and raised in Kuwait City. He studied in Arabic-language public schools. During his teenage years, a couple of prominent Arabic newspapers ran op-ed pieces that he wrote on politics. In his early twenties, not very interested in academia at the time and moved by the fast-paced developments in the country of his birth, he took a break from graduate work to begin his career in print journalism in 1993. His style won him instant recognition despite his young age. His bosses assigned him to investigative reporting and soon he found himself covering major stories in the Middle East. A sharp writing style and willingness to break taboos were the hallmarks of his reports. He got away with most of it in a region infested with suspicious governments because, well, he was a Pakistani, which literally made it difficult for security officials to place him within Middle East’ confusing maze of political alliances and rivalries.
In the year 2000, in a letter of recommendation for a challenging government project, Mr. Faisal Al Qanai, the chairman of the Kuwait Journalists Association, described Mr. Quraishi in these words:
“In a [Kuwaiti] media that prides itself of having a 40-year-old history, it is rare to have a journalist like Mr. Ahmed Quraishi. His work has helped us push the red line a few inches back.”
Starting in the year 2003, Mr. Quraishi occasionally lent his expertise to FurmaanRealpolitik, Inc., [www.furmaanrealpolitik.com.pk] a political consulting firm originally based in Dubai. He tailored and executed government-assigned public outreach projects. He has also been producing foreign policy programming on three major television networks in the region in English, Arabic, and Urdu languages. Currently, Mr. Quraishi is hosting a weekly political talk show titled Worldview From Islamabad, which he created for state-run PTV News, Pakistan’s largest television network. The program is a creative public outreach effort, introducing the concept of dynamic, fast-paced television production to Pakistan’s nascent television industry. The show is a platform projecting Pakistan’s foreign policy priorities.
A career investigative reporter, Mr. Quraishi was appointed in 1996 in the investigative unit of Kuwait-based al-Rai al-Aam newspaper (www.alraialaam.com), writing in Arabic for a major Arabic-language newspaper. He extensively covered the politics of the Middle East, specializing in incisive, rigorously analytical, and investigative reporting at a time when the concept of investigative journalism was not encouraged in mostly state-controlled Arab media. Using the platform of Kuwait’s vibrant and relatively free media and the emirate’s liberal press laws, Quraishi worked on stories rarely explored and published in Arab print media at the time:
o The Japanese Red Army history in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (1997)
o An in-depth survey of separatist militant ethnic groups inside Iran (1996)
The safe havens of Turkey’s separatist PKK elements in Syria (1998)
A series of reports identifying a new emerging phenomenon in Arab politics, where smaller and ‘peripheral’ Arab states in the 1990s began challenging the traditional hegemony of large Arab countries in economy, media outreach, and international relations (1999). Mr. Quraishi’s work in this area, published in Arabic, was probably one of the first pointers to this new development.
He worked for Middle East’s two main Arabic-language television news networks: as the Pakistan correspondent and analyst for the Qatar-based Aljazeera satellite television news network during the Afghanistan war in 2001, and later as the Pakistan and Central Asia producer and correspondent for the Abu Dhabi Satellite News Television. Even today, Mr. Quraishi is probably the only non-Arab TV journalist to have done on-camera work in Arabic for the two networks.
He was accredited to the Kuwaiti Government to work for six months in 1995 as a principal researcher for the documentary Heart of the Storm, an exclusive private production for Britain’s Channel Four television.
Mr. Quraishi was born to Pakistani parents in May 1972 in Kuwait City. He has read history and political science, focusing on Middle East, Central Asia and U.S. politics. He briefly attended a business school but did not graduate in that discipline. An avid polyglot; he is proficient in Arabic, English, and Urdu, with an active interest in Turkish and Farsi. He is married to Aysha Mughal since 2005. They have a son named Alwaleed.