Most Pakistanis believe that unseen forces such as the CIA, RAW, Blackwater and Mossad, are behind most of the problems the country is confronted with. Inventing and narrating conspiracy theories is a favourite pastime of certain segments of society. These theories are further spread through the media. The exponents of conspiracy theories never express penitence or regret once the unfolding of events prove them wrong. This phenomenon is not confined only to Pakistan; people in all parts of the world formulate and believe in such theories. These are generally based on fallacies, termed as logic.
Some popular theories relate to security matters. A large percentage of our population believed in the theory that Jews were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The video recording of Osama narrating the event to a Sheikh with pride, was rejected as engineered and fabricated. The last videos of the pilots alleged to have flown the two planes were also not considered as evidence whilst articles by anyone, who subscribed to the conspiracy theory, were widely circulated. Now there are few who discuss this theory.
American military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan are viewed as actions geared towards capturing oil and other mineral resources.
Furthermore, media hype was created about the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan. A channel showed houses in Islamabad, allegedly rented out by the organisation. Experts from strategic institutes appeared on TV shows to highlight the designs of Blackwater. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan blamed Blackwater for two suicide bombings in which large numbers of innocent Pakistanis were killed. Different theories were presented about the motives of Blackwater in Pakistan. Where are the agents of Blackwater now? Have those houses, in various sectors of Islamabad, been vacated? Have they left Pakistan? And if so, why did they leave without accomplishing their assigned mission?
A clearly forged statement, in which the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, terms Pakistan a threat to the existence of Israel, is quoted on many websites.
The reason we need to desist from the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories is that they exonerate leaders, government servants and decision-makers actually responsible for running state affairs. Saying that RAW was behind the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team absolves our own law-enforcement and intelligence agencies of any responsibility.
Blaming external forces for all the ills this country is plagued with, shields inefficient leaders. Alleging the involvement of RAW in militancy in Balochistan tends to hide the injustices done to the people of this province by successive regimes. The theory that India never accepted the creation of Pakistan promotes hatred and hampers peace efforts in the region. Instead of formulating conspiracy theories, we must look into ourselves and see what we have done wrong — and learn from those mistakes.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2011.