Editorial: The Rationalist – Jan-Mar, 2013 Issue

February 28, 2013 at 18:42
Enough is enough – no more of conspiracy theories please!

The market for conspiracy theories in Pakistan remains insatiable as we continued to see an unending supply of such theories in the last few months. “Supply creates its own demand”, an old discredited Economics law may have some truth in the case of juicy conspiracy theories. The preponderance of such theories, however, also signifies a strong pull factor of demand for all kind of mumbo jumbo in our society. Ajmal Kasab, the infamous lone survivor of Mumbai terrorist attacks and who was hanged in India last month, is the latest addition to the conspiracy theories making rounds in the social networking circles. Not only the title of ‘martyr’ was conferred on him by certain sections of our population, but in few cities his fanatic sympathisers even performed funeral prayers to express their solidarity with the departed soul. The Indian Consulate was asked by Kasab’s family members for handing over of the body for burial in Kasab’s hometown. It is indeed very surprising to see that up till now our security establishment and its spokespersons in the media had been claiming that Kasab was not a Pakistani. When a national TV channel traced his connection back to his home in Punjab, we were kept in the denial mode and the media persons were dubbed as foreign agents who wanted to malign Pakistan’s image. Interestingly same people are now outdoing each other in offering prayers for their deceased hero. If left to these characters, we should not be surprised if the grave of a coldblooded killer is turned into a shrine in no time.

Aided by the smokescreen of conspiracy theories, some alarming incidents took place in various parts of Pakistan from the North Western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the Southern commercial capital of Karachi. An observer of the international community finds it hard to believe that the humanitarian cause of eradicating polio virus should irk a certain section of any religious community so much that it would feel no qualms before opening its guns on women health workers and volunteers. But when rationality is on the losing side, any stupidity can rule over us. In many areas of Pakistan some armed miscreants motivated by the misguided clerics, mainly belonging to the Taliban’s sickening ideology, coerced ordinary parents not to cooperate in administration of polio vaccination drops to their children.
The clerics propagated through their sermons that the polio vaccine administration was a part of worldwide conspiracy by anti-Islam schemers to cause infertility so that the Muslim population was cut to size. It is pertinent to note that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the last three countries in the world left with the polio disease while the rest of the world has been able to eradicate this disease through successful vaccination programmes.But instead of doubling our efforts we have amongst us people who are not only discouraging parents from cooperating with vaccination workers but also using militant methods to frustrate the public zeal.
Malala Yousufzai, known to the world as an icon of courage and human rights campaign, is now an international celebrity. The young girl with an innocent face from Swat valley got discharged recently from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, U.K after completion of surgical procedures. Even this child was not spared by the fertile minds of our conspiracy theorists. Sun does not rise from the East and rainwater doesn’t fall due to gravity of earth. You can hardly convince them of anything if they have vowed not to use their brains. It was thus not surprising that they even disputed the fact of Malala being shot by Taliban. The fact that their many claims were extremely self-contradicting never bothers heavily their conscience. Those who were gracious enough to at least acknowledge that she was attacked ominously argued that she was attacked because she was a foreign agent. A third category of theorists, who always believe that the only mission of life of every Westerner is to defame Islam and Pakistan, were quick to claim that an ordinary incident of criminal attack was unnecessarily highlighted by the media so as to malign the image of Islam.Those with a geostrategic interest theorised that the drama was staged to create an excuse to start an operation in North Waziristan Agency against Taliban. While the world increasingly desires to see Malala become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize, our conspiracy theorists feel devastated by mentioning of her name.
With the facts unfolding right in the face, still our conspiracy loving theorists take delight by serious puffing of denial. The murders of Bashir Bilour, a prominent political figure and senior minister of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, and Manzar Imam, an MQM MPA, brutal killing of army personnel during a raid on the check-post at Serai Naurang, and many similar incidents are not enough to open their eyes and see the ever increasing monster of militant extremism. Yet from the platform of RSOP, we would like to share our optimism that people in general have begun realising the gravity of situation and are thus raising their voice against militancy. Enough is enough. It is time to speak and act against preachers of hate and violence.

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