Conspiracy theories and anti-Americanism Distort Reporting on High Level Talks

Apr 25th, 2011 | By | Category: Daily Times, Jang, The News

Daily TimesA column by Shahzad Chaudhry in Daily Times starts with a very informative history of drone strikes that illustrates how the tactic has increased over time. But then the author veers very much off of a straight path and begins weaving in baseless conspiracy theories.

Questions are being asked of illicit relations between such agents and the Punjab-based militant groups and the increasing incidence of bomb blasts in Punjab and other centres, seeking hidden motives characterising these as the CIA’s sinister moves to cement further dissent in Pakistani society.

Chaudhry continues on to say that “The CIA has always had a separate agenda from the declared stance of both the state and defence departments in Washington”. But what is the evidence for any of this, and why does his informative history of the drone program spiral out of control and into a conspiracypalooza? Though some countries intelligence agencies may operate very independently from oversight of parliament, the US has kept its intelligence agency on a tighter leash following embarrassing incidents of the past. According to a report in TIME:

Bucking a veto threat by Obama and overruling a deal among the White House, Republicans and two Democratic committee chairmen, Pelosi is pushing to dramatically expand congressional oversight of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. At issue is Congress’s ability to monitor the intelligence programs deemed most sensitive and closely held by the Executive Branch. And the battle is turning into the biggest confrontation yet over Executive power between the liberal House Speaker and a White House that has moved steadily to the center on national security matters.

Pelosi wants the CIA and other intelligence agencies to inform all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees when they launch any covert action or other controversial program, not restricting that information to the chairmen and ranking opposition members and party leaders, or “Gang of Eight,” as required by current law. She also wants the congressional intelligence committees to have the power to task the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with auditing any intelligence program, Democratic aides say, a power the GAO has for classified Pentagon programs but not for the intelligence agencies. “The Speaker has made it very clear that she wants disclosure for the full membership of the intelligence committees, not just the ranking members,” says Pelosi’s press secretary, Brendan Daly.

It is pertinent to note also that even after all the Wikileaks documents have been released and made available to the public, no evidence of a CIA plot to destabilize Pakistan has surfaced. Surely in the thousands of top secret documents there would be some mention of such a nefarious scheme.

The News (Jang Group)Another column, riddled with contradictions and conspiracies, is by none other than Ahmed Quraishi writing in The News. The author begins by asking “Is ISI the problem?” You can imagine what Ahmed Quraishi’s answer will be before even reading one more word. But what is worth mentioning are the contradictions and conspiracies in his answer.

Ahmed Quraishi states that Admiral Mullen’s suggestion that ISI maintains links to Afghan Taliban factions is “factually incorrect” and blames the Pakistani side for not loudly correcting him. But then, a few paragraphs later, Ahmed Quraishi states that actually we are maintaining contacts with Afghan Taliban who are killing American troops, just as Admiral Mullen said.

We should tell Washington that we will maintain ties to legitimate Afghan parties, including the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban. American demands to cut off ties to any one of them are misplaced. If an Afghan group that Pakistan maintains links with is killing US soldiers in Afghanistan, this is not necessarily Pakistan’s design or responsibility.

Which is it? First Ahmed terms Admiral Mullen’s statement ‘factually incorrect’ and then he says the same thing that Admiral Mullen says also.

In addition to such contradictions, Ahmed Quraishi finished his column with a repeat of the conspiracy theory that we read in Shahzad Chaudhry’s columns – the claim that the US is trying to destabilize Pakistan.

The US military and CIA inflate these assessments to justify prolonging the Afghan war and, more importantly, to justify meddling in Pakistan.

Actually, the US has announced that it will start removing troops from Afghanistan this year and will be out of the country by 2014. If the US plans to prolong the war, it has a funny plan to do so.

It should also be noted that Ahmed Quraishi’s claim that “The strength and ability of terror groups such as TTP and BLA to resupply will end when CIA ends its grand strategic project in Afghanistan” does not make sense as BLA first launched attacks prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan following 9/11 attacks. If BLA could resupply and pose attacks before US involvement in Afghanistan, why would it be affected once the US leaves? This makes no sense.

Ironically, Ahmed Quraishi concludes his column with the sentence, “This is political propaganda.” Perhaps here he is correct. Both Shahzad Chaudhry and Ahmed Quraishi writing in two different newspapers are parroting the same conspiracy theories based in anti-Americanism and not solid evidence. As high level talks continue between the military and their counterparts in the US, media should inform the people of developments so that they are aware. But media should not invent developments and spread conspiracy theories that are absent of supporting facts.

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