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VIEW: Conspiracy Theory


Insinuations – by politicians and media pundits, are making global rounds.

About election rigging, the opposition claims that a well known political leaders’ assassination came hours before she was about to uncover a spectacular result manipulation scheme hatched by none other than the government. About the incident itself, the existence of Baitulah Mehsud – a Taliban commander who likes beheading Pakistani soldiers, or the Al-Qaeda, fond of targeting odd interior ministers in mosques or rallies and attacking children’s buses, is disregarded in favour of the notion that none of them could possibly have a hand in the recent assassination. About the post-mortem, they allege that the medical report was cooked up. About the subsequent law and order breakdown, they maintain that no party loyalist could possibly have been involved in arson or looting and the sole beneficiary of the post assassination deterioration of law and order situation was a government that needed an excuse to postpone elections.

An opposition party representative, Chaudery Manzoor (ppp), in a talk show aired on 2nd Jan 2008 on a local news channel, contends that the dying declaration of an assassinated leader is to be taken as an FIR and the ultimate indictment against the perpetrators. It is not difficult to guess where the finger will point. The International scene is no different. About the security lapse at the unfortunate rally of 27th December 2007, PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST, emphasizes that “After all, this took place in the centre of Pakistani military -- the Pakistani military headquarters, which would imply, I think, some low level military help.”

Since the death should not prevent the opposition leadership from divulging the contents of the report, the first dispute can be easily settled when the dossier is publicized. It would be interesting to see the effects any unsubstantiated allegations – assuming of course that they are based largely on accusations and random complaints - are likely to have on the party’s future. One reason for crying foul, however, can be to lay the groundwork for a possible defeat. Only an impartial investigation can validate these claims.

Other charges are less easily explained away but they must be addressed nevertheless; some by allowing an international intervention and others by exhuming the body. Indeed, the government has scant authority to prevent an exhumation now or stop an autopsy then. The victims’ spouse, the loudest (and angriest) proponent of such conspiracy theories, on the other hand, can. And he did. Scotland Yard's assistance has been sought at this stage but it cannot be denied that international investigators could have been called in sooner as the crime scene has been comprised since then and the trail is now a week old.

That Scotland Yard’s involvement after the first attack of 18 October 2007 would have prevented the second as argued by the bereaved spouse is debatable if we concede the pervasiveness of terrorism. In an ongoing investigation, suggesting the involvement of a particular terrorist outfit was met with suspicion perhaps because it was thought to be both hasty and premature. In the initial days, even with an intercepted conversation in hand, admitting to a probable link would have been wiser than declaring a positive one. An equally contentious issue is the exact cause of death in this tragic ‘whodunit’. The discrepancies in the official version, eye witness reports and photographic evidence have sent conspiracy theorists into overdrive; yet, what the cover-up accomplishes still remains obscure when the presence and existence of both the suicide bomber and shooter are an established fact.

The judiciousness of not opening the polls days after the death and ensuing destruction has also been challenged; the injudiciousness of exposing the voting public to yet another spell of violence is a genuine concern, one shared by many others, voiced by few. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer’s argument that “Rawalpindi is really a military town. It's a garrison where you would think security would be pretty good” demonstrates the West’s unfamiliarity with the ‘ground realities’, incidentally the new catchword of 2007 and makes the brazenness of the attack, though alarming, not new for Pakistanis. Expressing incredulousness at the penetration of Rawalpindi overlooks its recent vulnerability. Implying tacit military support for Al-Qaeda, however low level it may be, speaks of a duplicitous nuclear armed regime.

Going back to Chaudery Manzoor’s declaration that suggests the use of unfounded dying declarations as guarantees of guilt complete the Wild West scenario where the judiciary would finally become irrelevant and law of the jungle can officially prevail. Conspiracy theorists and fear mongers have made a clear cut case and the implications are obvious, depending on whom one believes. Musharraf is playing the US. His real ally is the al-Qaeda and both hunt Pakistanis for sport.

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