Conspiristan

Sep 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories

“Conspiristaan” is the name that journalist Syed Abidi invokes in an article for ILIM TV’s website yesterday. Though Mr Abidi is discussing the reaction to the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, his assessment is also apt when one considers the past week of reporting.

As pointed out by Mr Abidi, the nation’s numerous conspiracy theorists got to work quickly once news of Dr Farooq’s death was reported.

Instead of mourning the loss of a political worker and taking the society for correction they got busy working hard on table-stories by inciting more hatred by writing personal and biased opinions and calling them ’sources’ which have no way to be verified or proved.

After this, there is a follow up of SMS campaigns by the same maniacs sending links to log on or full texts declaring the deceased’s own party as his killer. There are always some who would like to learn about negative before the positive and blindly believe in it, being a huge society of illiterates but aware of politics it works very well with them on a massive level. News about MQM is more interestingly read in up country than in Karachi itself, the difference is that in the 90’s it was national media, and now its blog sites and websites only. If these propaganda sites were so true, then our mainstream free media would have been the first to discuss about these conspiracies publically and put these questions to the party.

But the murder of Dr Farooq is not the only story that has become the target of conspiracy theories. Earlier this week, The Nation published an opinion column that claims that the US military has developed a machine to create global warming and control the weather that is being used by a secret group called “New World Order” to dominate the world.

The article, by A. R. Jerral, is essentially a paranoid rant that combines old conspiracy theories of secretive groups trying to control the world with a new spin of science fiction to add a spicy twist. This is a story that has been circulated in emails and websites of paranoid and discredited conspiracy theories, but that it has now been published in a newspaper should give all serious people concern for how low the standards of journalism have fallen.

Some of these conspiracy theories, however, are not simply paranoid rants but are actually political attacks meant to target specific people for personal or political vendettas.

Discredited conspiracy theorist Ahmed Quraishi has seemed to have a long and strange obsession with the Ambassador the the USA, Husain Haqqani. A few weeks ago on his Facebook page he accused Mr Haqqani of arranging luxurious accommodations for the Foreign Minister’s visit to New York City, only Mr Ahmed Quraishi was then shamed when it was reported that actually Husain Haqqani was in Pakistan for his mother’s funeral.

But shame does not appear to bother Quraishi, who is at it again accusing the Ambassador of interfering in the Dr Aafia case. According to an article this week, Ahmed quotes extensively an article by Yvonne Ridley, who he calls “investigative journalist”. Actually, Miss Ridley is a propagandist who does not do very well with facts.

For example, according to Miss Ridley’s article, Husain Haqqani holds US citizenship. This is an old accusation that Ahmed Quraishi has tried to peddle before only to be disproven as it was revealed that a diplomat cannot hold another citizenship. Mr Haqqani has Pakistan citizenship only, though he has worked in the US like thousands of other Pakistanis.

Yvonne Ridley and Ahmed Quraishi accuse the Ambassador of secretly telling journalists that Dr Aafia was “a bad woman”, though they naturally provide no evidence for who was told this or where it was published.

But the Ahmed Quraishi and Yvonne Ridley conspiracy falls apart once they claim that their case is proved because an American politician Cynthia McKinney was refused a visa to visit Pakistan to lobby the government on Dr Aafia’s case.

This simply makes no sense. Dr Aafia is not held by the Pakistani government but has been held by the American government. Why would an American politician fly to Islamabad to lobby the government on a case that is actually taking place in her own country? It simply makes no sense.

But even more ridiculous is the claim that Husain Haqqani has been working against Dr Aafia’s case. Actually, news reports have been filled with public statements by the Ambassador urging the American government to turn over Dr Aafia to Pakistani authorities and let her return home.

Actually, the facts are that the government including its representatives in the Embassy at Washington have been doing extensive work in support of Dr Aafia which has been widely reported.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, has also taken a keen interest in the Afia Siddiqui case given its political importance at home, sources say. He had two meetings with the Bush administration’s Attorney General and has made President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder at least four times to discuss the case. The US government has been unusually considerate in allowing these meetings, American officials point out, as it is not usually US policy to let foreign ambassadors get involved in cases pending before its courts.

Senior diplomats from the Pakistani embassy in Washington have been following Aafia Siddiquis case since the beginning. On the insistence of her brother Mohammed Ali Siddiqui, an expensive team of lawyers was hired to defend her in court with special approval from Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. It was unusual for the Pakistan government to pay top human rights lawyers, who had successfully defended other Al-Qaeda linked prisoners in the past, to defend a single Pakistani citizen who was not arrested while in service.

Whether it is the murder of a political worker like Dr Imran Farooq, science experiments by American universities, or complicated legal cases like Dr Aafia, there are facts and there are fantasies. Proper journalists investigate the facts and report them so that the citizenry may be well informed and make good decisions. Unfortunately, we are seeing an enormous amount of misinformation and wild conspiracy theories being published in all forms of media. These conspiracy theories distort our perceptions, cloud our minds, distract us from important issues and put us off the path of progress.

When you think about it clearly, Syed Abidi’s conclusion is correct.

Information that is verifiable is what we should believe in and develop on. It is our responsibility to be mature and not fall for such theorists, which blocks your positive imagination and creativity. They are getting paid to do it, but you are made a victim for free.

Let us be victims of these conspiracy theorists no longer.

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