The Raoof Hasan Fiasco

Feb 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories, Pakistan Today

Pakistan TodayWhen I posted about the death of the Visa Conspiracy I wondered who would be the first person to dig the grave and drag the rotting corpse back out for one final blow. I must admit I was surprised, though, to see it not from one of the usual suspects but from CM Shahbaz Sharif’s media consultant Raoof Hasan. And yet, there it is in black and white for all the world to see, a political operative on the pages of Pakistan Today blatantly trading on the name of the Chief Minister Punjab and hacking away at the smelling corpse of a conspiracy theory only long since dead and buried.

After announcing that Raymond Davis “is not a diplomat and does not enjoy immunity” (who knew that Raoof Hasan is not only media consultant to CM Punjab but also serves as the new Foreign Minister?), Raoof proceeds directly to energetically flogging the conspiracy theory.

There are scores of other Raymonds roaming the roads of Pakistan. Most of them have entered the country on the basis of special visas granted by the president’s man in Washington – one Mr. Hussain Haqqani. The choice diplomat has been taking pains to explain that all visas to the Americans were issued with due authorisation. That does not exonerate Mr. Haqqani from culpability. It only proves that there were others involved in the scam also!

As a reminder, here is the press conference of Ambassador Husain Haqqani that Mr Raoof Hasan is referring to:

Yes, the Ambassador did “explain that all visas to the Americans were issued with due authorisation”, and he did so by opening the books and providing the facts and data to journalists. One might request that if Raoof Hasan is going to contradict the Ambassador’s evidence he would please provide his own evidence of these “scores of Raymonds roaming the roads of Pakistan”. If he could provide some actual IDs, then surely we can have them declared ‘persona non grata’ and removed before they do any harm. If he cannot provide any IDs then could it be that he is simply making it up?

Raoof Hasan

Raoof Hasan

According to Raoof Hasan, the streets are crawling with Raymond Davis’s and the halls of power are packed with conspirators. Raoof Hasan knows this, but he cannot provide any data, any facts, or any actual names of the invaders or the conspirators either. But no matter, he has learned well the lesson of the master media manipulator: “All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

Raoof’s response to Ambassador Haqqani’s opening the books and providing evidence that buries the dead horse once and for all is actually rather pathetic as well. According to Raoof, if the Ambassador has proof that all visas were issued with due authorisation then it only means that more people must be involved in the conspiracy! No amount of facts will matter because Raoof Hasan has made up his mind. Please. This is not serious analysis, it is political hackery only.

What is most curious about this bit of paranoid propaganda, however, is that it is attributed to Raoof Hasan not as ‘political analyst’ which is his usual by line for articles in The News but as ‘media consultant to the Chief Minister, Punjab’. It must be asked then if Shahbaz Sharif is aware that Raoof Hasan is trading on his name and this the official position of Shahbaz Sharif and the Punjab government also?

Whatever the answer, one question remains. After the evidence is provided, why did the editors at Pakistan Today agree to run such a piece that clearly ignores facts and data only to promote a discredited conspiracy theory invented to cause fear in the public? When Arif Nizami decided to launch his newspaper, there was some question as to whether he would provide a fact-based alternative to the paranoid Nazariya-e-Pakistan content of uncle Majeed’s newspaper. That is something certainly needed. What is not needed is another media group promoting paranoid conspiracy theories.

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