VIEW: The real conspiracy —Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain - Monday, May 02, 2011

Source :\05\02\story_2-5-2011_pg3_2

When I walked into my local fruit shop a couple of days ago, the heavily bearded fruit seller had Indian mangoes on sale. Horror, horror! Indian mangoes! Can we imagine the far reaching consequences of this ultimate conspiracy in the works by those ‘sly’ Indians?

The time has come to consider the ‘conspiracy theories’ that are running wild. Before proceeding, I must admit that for me a good conspiracy theory is almost like a decent mango, flavourful, a little sweet, a little tart, and leaves a smile behind. Why I am thinking of mangoes, I will come to that later.

The most interesting conspiracy theories making the rounds these days are about Mr Imran Khan and his political fortunes. Now I must admit that I have great sympathy for Mr Khan, for he is such an easy punching bag for people of almost every political persuasion. From the Left he is accused of being a political and intellectual lightweight and a gullible plaything for the devious and entirely evil ‘agencies’. On the Right, especially when it comes to our hardcore Islamist types, he will always be the playboy who found faith a little late in life.

Whatever else his reasons for doing what he does, I do not believe that he is a ‘pawn’ for anybody though he might be slightly susceptible to the power of suggestion, especially if it entails some discrete stroking of his ego. However, anybody who believes that the aforementioned agencies actually believe that Imran Khan and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), will win any election anytime soon is probably more gullible than even Imran Khan himself. Short of massive infusion of angelic votes, PTI will not do much better the next time than it did the last time.

Why then are the PML-Q, PTI and the MQM trying to work together in Punjab or was that just a trial balloon? Evidently, the only party that would benefit from such an alliance will be the PPP. The question, then, is where is Mr Nawaz Sharif in the midst of all this turmoil? According to available information, he is well on the way to a complete recovery. If that is true, then why he has not addressed any press conferences and, more importantly, why has he not returned to Pakistan while all these political changes are going on that can seriously affect the future of the PML that he leads.

Possibly Mr Sharif is well but not well enough to return full time to the hurly burly of Pakistani politics and requires some more time to get back to form. Or else he is just fine but after having confronted his mortality he has recalibrated his priorities in life and decided that being re-elected as prime minister of Pakistan for a third time is just no longer quite that important to him. If the latter is true, then that is bad news for the politicians in his party.

The next big set of conspiracy theories involves the ongoing ‘war’ between the spy masters of the US and Pakistan. Evidently, we are seeing a spy versus spy conniption of a major sort that could change this part of the world completely. Everybody and their aunts have a different take on it. All I can say about it is that ordinary people like us, however well informed we think we are, never really know what our spies are up to at any given time and that is as it should be. Anybody who has read a bit about the history of the CIA can add that very often even the spies themselves have no idea what they are up to.

About the situation in Afghanistan, the best we can do is to quote Churchill about Russia: “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” All we have to do to figure out what will happen in Afghanistan is to determine what the Afghan national interest is. And that is the problem. Even the Afghans are a little confused about their national interest at this time and as far as the CIA or the ISI are concerned they have no clue about it at all. So we can say truthfully about Af-Pak-CIA-ISI that it is not conspiracies but confusion that reigns supreme at this time.

If we take Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the rest of the Middle East, our friends on the right and the left of the political spectrum are joined in condemnation of the US policies, blaming oil or lithium in the case of Afghanistan for the continuing interference by western imperialist powers. My point of view about conspiracy theories in general is that if there is more than one equally cogent conspiracy theory to explain the same event, then they must all, by necessity, be wrong.

The most recent event that lends itself to conspiracy theories of all sorts is the meeting between Indian and Pakistani bureaucrats to discuss bilateral trade. As expected, and no surprise there, Pakistan refused to give India the status of a ‘Most Favoured Nation’. But what is exciting was the Indians’ offer to sell electricity to Pakistan. This made all our Pakistani patriots go ape! Entry of Indian electricity in our national electrical grid would clearly be a ‘violation’ of our national honour. And what if they suddenly decided to ‘withdraw’ their electricity at the most critical time possible?

Now to more important things like mangoes. What was disturbing me greatly was the fact that when I walked into my local fruit shop a couple of days ago, the heavily bearded fruit seller had Indian mangoes on sale. Horror, horror! Indian mangoes! Can we imagine the far reaching consequences of this ultimate conspiracy in the works by those ‘sly’ Indians?

Soon our ‘Anwar Ratols’ and ‘Chaunsas’ will be driven out of the market by the Indian Alfonso and other such breeds, decimating Pakistani mango production. And when we have become completely dependent on Indian mangoes, the Indians will suddenly stop the export of mangoes to Pakistan. When that happens, Pakistan will definitely fall apart. That is the conspiracy we really need to worry about.

The writer has practised and taught medicine in the US and Pakistan. He can be reached at

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