Conspiracy theories and the bilateral process

Absar Khan June 18, 2010
Conspiracy theories in current times are adjusting to our youth. Have you ever wondered about the reasons that make conspiracy theories easily impact the minds of people? There are quite a number of reasons, the foremost being that many of us love fiction and mysteries, and another being a simple lack of education. But in Pakistan, perhaps the most important is the trust deficit between the people and the respective governmental institutions or the whole government machinery.

Conspiracy theories proliferating in society or a country reflect a bilateral connection between the respective government and its people – both hermetically connected to each other. How? Let’s take into account the case of Zaid Hamid. I’d not blame the stalwarts of Zaid Hamid who’re in these times following the hawkish ideologies of the man because, as I said, it’s a bilateral process. One needs to understand that the people of Pakistan are frustrated and provoked over the stalemate on most serious long-standing issues between India and Pakistan; for instance: water issue, Kashmir issue, unprovoked border forces fire from Indian side, the involvement of Indian security agencies in the affairs of Pakistan and so forth.

I’m not a supporter of Zaid Hamid, neither do I like his hawkish rhetoric and cliches. But then, I think Zaid Hamid doesn’t reflect both sides of the coin. One side of the coin is Zaid Hamid. The other side of the coin is the failed government. The government has failed to satisfy the needs of the people. And that government’s failure of not dealing with serious problems of Pakistan is leading to the ire in the youth against India.

In the same way, there are conspiracy theories regarding United States of America: the usage of Pakistani bases to perform the drone attacks assignment, which is killing many innocent Pakistanis; the role of American Intelligence Agencies in Pakistan including the abduction of Pakistanis by CIA and FBI; the Blackwater issue; the dubious role of America on Kashmir issue, the failure of American-led Nato forces in Afghanistan and so forth. Again, this all is leading to the ire in the people of Pakistan against United States of America. The reasons are quite valid given that 9 years of war has brought no convincing result until the present time.

In either case, conspiracy theories are evolved and adopted by the people because of the failure of the respective government which cannot grapple the issues. Or to state the matter differently, there’s a huge trust deficit between the people and the government because their voices and judgement and opinion are perennially overlooked by government.

I’m nowhere near to asserting the idea that the above mentioned reason is the “only” ingredient that helps in accommodating conspiracy theories in our judgments and opinions. But give me one reason why people shouldn’t fall prey to these conspiracy theories — the rhetoric and cliches of some media analysts, as it’s called — when government has critically failed to comply with the demands of the people, and as mentioned above too: like the water issue with India, Kashmir issue, illegal abduction of Pakistanis and so on.

People have the right to make choices too and they will make the choices “automatically” – and maybe at times the wrong choices – when the government feebly gives this impression that it’s reluctant to solve the problems people are facing perpetually. According to the previously mentioned scenario on the bilateral process with regards to conspiracy theories, there is only one solution:

government should pay careful attention to the sentiments and needs of the people. If not, the government will be witness to people getting more infuriated, hawkish and extremist against countries like India, America or Israel, when their voices are not given a careful consideration. Those people who strictly denounce the conspiracy theorists should also not blame the youths who fall prey to conspiracy theories, because the coin is always bi-facial — both faces different.
Absar Khan A student of mechanical engineering and avid follower of current affairs. Absar blogs on international relations and life in Pakistan.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


pharmacy technician | 14 years ago | Reply What a great resource!
Sana | 14 years ago | Reply I dont agree with this article at some points. The faults shown by the govt are no doubts one reason but there're many other powerful reasons too. It is not 'lack of education', i would say it is lack of awareness among people. Another reason is the media hype. Both these factors work intricated and people act this way. Book reading generally is an out of fashion thing for our people. They call 'studying' when they're 'reading' newspapers or watching TV channels for their current and international affairs knowledge. There's a 'bloom' in News channels and so there're chatter boxes chattering always their own point of views instead of what actually is the news. That goes 'interpretation' of news rather than 'conveying' the news to public and let them decide. Government does one thing and there's an earthquake in whole media. Everybody is speaking about problem and its possible horrible future outcomes, according to what their sanity tells them. Consequently, public is in havoc and panic. A great deal of social unrest mounts and they want answers. Yes, trust deficit between government and more importantly between and ordinary Pakistani and other nations play their part here. We're already becoming so much an insecure nation regarding our religion and our culture. It seems to our people that every other non-muslim is coming to attack us and eradicating our religion. All that cause of media. In such situations both demagogues and the creators of the conspiracy theories are successful. It is their 'day' and they're famous. Zaid Hamid speaks what our conservatives want to listen. People who're conservatives (esp those who think that Islam is their private property and they've right to declare who is a 'good muslim' and who is an 'infidel') love to talk that every other non-muslim is our enemy and killing them is Jihad. So, Zaid Hamid provides mental satisfaction to this fraction who love to think that we're being conspired against. So, it is very very easy and logical in this state of mind to believe on conspiracy theories. bit-off-the-topic About recent diplomatic talks with India and earlier this year, i'm convinced that our diplomats are not that bad. I'm not pro-government but i am agreed that this issue is case sensitive. And good diplomatic relations is what we need at this time with India. And it is not only us but Indians do need this too. I have been following them and in my view, attitude of our diplomtic convoys was not bad, rather mature.
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