By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- Newspapers in Pakistan love conspiracy theories, and the most recent one concerns an unpaid intern who worked for Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry: Zain H. Qureshi, the son of Pakistan's foreign minister.
Word of the young Qureshi's internship in Kerry's office during the negotiations over a $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan spawned a flurry of speculation that the 19-year-old college student might actually have helped author the controversial legislation. The aid bill has also led to criticism of Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, who is on leave from Boston University.
One columnist for The News, a Pakistani newspaper, blasted the internship as a special privilege for the elite. She criticized Kerry as a "Boston Brahmin" and compared his aristocratic roots to Qureshi's powerful tribe.
"These guys claim to fame is blue-blooded ancestry, wealth, influence and the right to rule," she wrote.
The News columnist speculated that Qureshi had "gone into hiding" since she couldn't reach him on the phone number on a business card. The Pakistani embassy told the Globe that he simply returned to university in London. (Attempts to reach the young Qureshi via Facebook were unsuccessful.)
Another publication, Pakistan Daily, asked whether the internship made Pakistan's foreign minister beholden to Kerry and weakened his ability to defend Pakistan's interests.
"If you are a father, you develop a soft corner for the powerful man who has given your son an entry job in a powerful place," Pakistan Daily wrote.
A spokesman at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that Qureshi "had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do" with the aid package "or any other piece of legislation" and that he played no part in any topic related to Pakistan, India, or Afghanistan.
He said the young Qureshi worked in Kerry's Senate office, not the office of the Foreign Relations Committee that Kerry leads. The only thing he had to do with South Asia was drafting a memo at his own initiative about Sri Lanka for one of Kerry's staffers.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.