There’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory to get the tongues wagging. In essence, it is an explanatory proposition that accuses a person, group or organisation of having caused or covered up an event of great social, political or economic impact. Like 9/11, the mother of all conspiracy theories. Though the term was first used on January 27, 1870 in a medical conference, in my student days in India, these innuendos didn’t have such a sinister title. The earliest political whodunit that I came across was “Who was responsible for India getting her independence when she did? Attlee? Nehru? Patel? Gandhi? Jinnah?” Wrong! It was Harry Truman of the United States. The Americans had recognised the fact that after the defeat of the Axis powers, the world would be polarised between East and West. Now there happened to be three fighting forces, which were relatively intact — the US Army, the Red Army and the British Indian Army. The third force simply had to be gotten rid of by putting it under the control of a non-colonial power.
Even President Barack Obama has not been spared by the conspiracy theorists, as the inquisitors have alleged that his claim to the presidency is illegitimate due to the circumstances of his birth. Was his Hawaiian birth certificate a fake? Does he have dual nationality? Was he once a Muslim? Frankly, I don’t give a damn. And the fact that a wide swathe of the electorate voted him in for a second bite at the national cherry indicates that the majority of Americans also don’t give a damn if he also has a Kenyan passport and was once circumcised by a Kikuyu witch doctor with feathers on his head.
Then, there are the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as the Jews control Wall Street, the US Federal Reserve System, Hollywood and the news media; and along with the Freemasons, are plotting to establish control over the world. In the Middle Ages, it was widely believed that the Jews poisoned wells, killed Jesus and drank the blood of Christians at their rituals. The blood of humans and animals is not kosher and cannot possibly be consumed by Jews. But how do you tackle a closed mind? What is of particular interest, however, is the Holocaust denial. In this, I differ from the generally accepted figure of six million and believe it would be closer to 600,000 due to the paucity of rolling stock in eastern Europe to transport the prisoners to the gas chambers in Poland.
Closer to home is the conspiracy theory surrounding the flamboyant leader of the MQM — Altaf Hussain. According to the grapevine, he had promised the British, back in the 1990s, that he would turn Karachi into another Hong Kong with British help after the loss of the Crown Colony to the Chinese. Things didn’t work out quite the way he wanted them to, and after the Razia Bhatti incident, and the military crackdown on his party, he was advised to proceed to self-exile in London where he was subsequently guarded by Her Majesty’s police. The story doing the rounds is that Scotland Yard had suspected for some time that Altaf Hussain had been flying below the radar and wanted to pin Imran Farooq’s murder on him. Big Brother on the other side of the Atlantic said, “Hang on lads. The last thing we want is an uncontrollable situation in Karachi, which will have repercussions in the rest of the country and adversely affect the Nato supply lines. Why don’t you chaps wait at least for a year?”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.
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