Living on a galore of foolish conspiracy theories
By Babar Ayaz
People in Pakistan have been nurtured on conspiracy theories so much so that thinking and circulating of such bizarre conspiracies has become a national pass time. For decades we have been told by our establishment that ‘Yahud and Hanud’ (the Jews and Hindus) are conspiring against the Islamic state of Pakistan and are responsible for all our miseries. Behind this thin veil we hide all our follies and failures.
Some of the latest conspiracy theories are that the attack on Hamid Mir in which he was critically injured was stage managed by the Geo group itself because they wanted to put the blame on ISI and that it also served Nawaz Sharif’s government which is not fond its intelligence chief either. If that is true and some morons believe it then, Sir, kudos to Hamid Mir for being the bravest stuntman in the history of the country.
One retired senior army official said ISI is not clumsy to fail in killing anybody. He has faith in his organization and thinks either the attack was by an amateur contractor or it was just a message to Hamid by a militant group.
Another businessman says that the attack on Hamid Mir could be a RAW conspiracy in cahoots with Geo group which wants to defame our premium agency. But if that is true then why did Geo and Hamid Mir start beating the ultra-nationalist drums for bailing out the same establishment when it was in a fix on intelligence and security failure the day US forces took out Osama; or when the Kerry-Lugar bill rightly tried to establish democratic government supremacy over its military establishment by diverting the whole debate to the violation of sovereignty; or when Pasha played the Memogate drama. My articles on these issues were critical of media beating the sovereignty drums instead of finding out our mistakes, but I will still defend Geo and Hamid Mir’s right to believe and say whatever they like.
This is not all, the other day a leading businessman trumped all the conspiracy stories. As GEO has landed itself from the pan to the fire thanks to its flamboyant Shaista Lodhi’s stupid programme, our conspiracy theorist said that perhaps Shaista was planted in GEO by ISI and she deliberately provoked the religious sensibilities of the public. Now to me this theory is also equally outrageous as the one that Hamid hired somebody to attack him. I don’t think ISI would get into creating religious trouble as it is already bogged down with the Jihadi outfits. Yes what is possible is that once Shaista made that mistake it gave all the ‘king’s men’ who stand and wait to jump in to duty file umpteen cases against GEO group. Why not when they have the facility of the omnipresent blasphemy law at their hand? When SHO Umar Daraz can brazenly use it against 68 lawyers who protested against him, Shaista’s faux pas was the golden opportunity for all those who are hell bent to bring the mighty Geo down on its feet. Shaista and Geo have apologized profusely for this mistake, but in the situation of an all out war the agenda is to muzzle the media. Those in the media who are after Geo’s blood in this game are not seeing beyond their nose as the press freedom would be scuttled by the establishment once they are through with taming the most powerful group.
Instead of coining conspiracy theories the media has to look at the weaknesses of their internal system. Particularly the nature of the beast called commercial television is such that the anchors whose programme get high ratings and consequently loads of advertisement revenues start acting larger than life. They do not accept any editorial control. And then if the anchor is close to the owner of the channel he/she acts independently. That is the weakness of the Geo group and almost all TV channels that they do not have powerful professional editors and programme controllers. This has resulted in excesses. At the same time except for the news there is no need to have so many live programmes where it is very difficult to weed out unprofessional stuff.
A concerned citizen wants to know whether there is some connection in the sudden rise of Imran Khan, Sheikhul Islam Qadri, when Hamid Mir’s issue was already boiling?
My take on this is that probably there could be a link between the agency allegedly involved in the attack on Hamid as claimed by his brother and his close friends. But it doesn’t mean a conspiracy. These politicians don’t have to be told to jump in according to a sinister plan. They wait on the fence to find an opportune timing where their political interests and agencies interest converge in pressurising the government. Both are benefited by each other. So it is an over-simplification to say they are just the stooges pulled out whenever the establishment needs them.
His second investigative question was that ‘during the turmoil, Altaf Bhai suddenly demands Pakistan’s ID card. Who encourages two absentees Qadri and Altaf Bhai, sitting thousands miles away, to stir up trouble at home?’
If I remember correctly Altaf had applied before the attempt on Hamid Mir’s life. According to my sources even last year, during Zardari’s times he had approached the Pakistan High Commission that he should be given the passport, but one of his senior colleagues advised the government to delay the process because he (Altaf) is angry and would calm down in a couple of days and that’s precisely what happened. It appeared some people in his party don’t want him to be back for whatever reasons.
Such conspiracy theories are floating around the country in spite of the fact that almost everything is out in the open since the media has acquired some freedom. Perhaps what lacks is objective analysis of the issues and speaking out the bitter truth about our mistakes as a country and as institutions. The blame game that anybody who does not support the establishment’s point of view on national issues is a foreign agent should stop now; otherwise we will never come out of the present mess.
Writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org