Pakistan media has already been termed ‘conspiracy-palooza‘ by one prominent magazine, and now Global Post has also taken notice of the conspiracy theories running riot in our media. Reporter Nicolas Brulliard says the Raymond Davis shooting began as a nightmare, but was quickly exploited and transformed into ‘a field day for Pakistan’s conspiracy theorists’.
One important observation by the reporter is how media conspiracy-theorists conveniently ignore the facts in order to twist events to shape accusations against a mysterious ‘foreign hand’.
The country’s calamities are frequently blamed on a “foreign hand” that in the past was virtually synonymous with India but increasingly refers to the United States. In conjunction with the war in Afghanistan, the C.I.A. has been conducting covert operations in Pakistan as well as running a drone program that has caused numerous civilian casualties and is deeply unpopular here.
The C.I.A. collaborates with the Pakistani intelligence services, and as evidenced by diplomatic cables released late last year by Wikileaks, the Pakistani government has condoned the American drone strikes on its territory. Still, these operations are seen as an unacceptable violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and have fueled deep resentment toward America among the general population.
More intriguing, however, are the numerous tales of conspiracy and conjecture woven from thin air – the same conspiracy theories that Wired magazine termed ‘transparently silly stories’.
Based on the reported presence of a bag of naswar — a local dipping tobacco — among Davis’ belongings, one local newspaper concluded that he had probably picked up the habit during long stays in Pakistan’s northwest, got addicted to it and was likely to be experiencing withdrawal symptoms in jail.
One theory has Davis plotting terrorist attacks in Pakistan with the help of insurgents, while another presumes a massive operation by U.S. forces to either rescue or eliminate the man dubbed “the American Rambo” by the Nation, a Pakistani newspaper. A man who sued former President George W. Bush for $165 trillion a few years ago also claims that Davis was in the country to terrorize him and force him to withdraw his suit.
One might think that for all the concern expressed over the national honour by the chattering class, one of these talking heads might actually take notice that their behaviour is embarrassing the nation in the eyes of the world. Following a tragic incident, these self-appointed guardians of ghairat have turned a nightmare into a field day and are competing for first prize of silliest story. Ansar Abbasi may take great pride that the international press has repeated his line about a ‘Hollywood-style Rambo sting operation’, but what he does not realize is that his colleagues in media are quoting this not because they are impressed with his reporting, but amused by his silliness.