Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Conspiracy Theories

Monday, December 31, 2012E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

COMMENT : General Zia’s children and their conspiracy theories — Yasser Latif Hamdani
Why does it not bother anyone that our constitutional fundamental rights are trampled on a daily basis by the wretched deep state?

Renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking once wrote that while everything is predetermined, there is no way to predict what is predetermined and, therefore, the illusory idea of free will is a workable model. In other words, there is a grand design but the details of this design are not known. I am not a physicist or a philosopher of science so I cannot comment on the scientific veracity of this claim. What I do know is that this idea is equally applicable to how we look at the world, its politics and economic systems.

Last week I met two recent graduates, one from LUMS and the other from FAST, both prestigious institutions of higher learning in Lahore. What they had to say terrified, amused and angered me, beginning with freemasons who controlled the world to the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks being the CIA’s work through remotely controlled drones. They told me about the Knights Templar, the Knights of Malta and about the quest for the Holy Grail. I was further inundated with information about the US hoarding gold in Fort Knox and the grand design to dominate the world by a handful of 33-degree Freemasons. I was also informed that all US presidents are freemasons though they were not completely sure if Mr Obama fits the bill (because they told me that Freemasons is an exclusively white male club). In short, it was a thoroughly entertaining but at times disturbing conversation.

One can come up with a conspiracy theory about almost anything. The internet is rife with all sorts of claims. There is even some speculation on the worldwide web that Pakistan itself is a Freemasonic project to weaken India and Muslims. The basis for this brilliant claim is twofold: the founder of Pakistan called Annie Besant, who we are conveniently told was a 33-degree freemason, ‘Amma’ affectionately and that he also petitioned a Masonic lodge in Bombay thrice in 1907, 1908 and 1911 (but was blackballed apparently). I suppose the fact that the Masonic Lodge in Lahore plays host to the Punjab government does not help matters. (By the same token, the internet also informs us that Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”) I have nothing against conspiracy theories. In fact, the world would be a boring place without them but I do have a problem with Pakistan’s best and brightest wasting their time and coming up with bizarre reasons to evade responsibility for what has happened in Pakistan.

That Freemasons are a fraternity is well known and of course, the US’s founding fathers Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were Freemasons and never really hid this fact. I doubt that every US president was a Freemason. Nor am I too sure that Pakistan’s founding father was a Freemason. However, let us assume for a minute that everyone who is anyone is part of this secret society. So what? Apparently, Freemasonry was banned in Pakistan by law under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s PPP government in 1972. Shows how enlightened Mr Bhutto and his PPP government really were. Every exercise in crass nationalism, Islamic exclusivism and populism was undertaken by that government, which claimed to be liberal and progressive. The despot who dethroned our ‘godlike’ prime minister turned out to be even worse. He has created an entire generation of paranoid bigots. However, by the same logic we can deduce that every wrong turn Pakistan has taken since 1972 has had nothing to do with Freemasons. Or perhaps Pakistan sans Freemasonry is the model for the world in democracy, progress and human rights after all. You decide.

The truth is that Freemasons — whoever they are — are not responsible for the mess in Pakistan, we are! Collectively. All that we accuse the Freemasons of, such as controlling and hobnobbing behind closed doors, is true of our callous elite. People’s futures are decided by a select few comprising generals, feudal lords and bureaucrats, all with their vested interests. People are silent spectators in the great drama that is played on them at their cost. So, they do not have bizarre symbols and rituals. Does it make their activities any less secretive? What are we going to do? Let me concede that the world consists of vested interests clashing with each other. Consequently, you have intelligence agencies and other mechanisms — legal and illegal — of exercising control over people by states and corporations. ISI, MI6, CIA, RAW and MOSSAD exist. Pakistan’s new fair trial law is a deathblow to our constitutional freedoms and rights. Why does it not bother anyone that our constitutional fundamental rights are trampled on a daily basis by the wretched deep state?

Now consider this scenario: a mullah returns from Canada. All of a sudden with his posters pasted all over, the city of Lahore and LCD and LED screens at every 500 yards are continuously carrying out propaganda against democracy and the electoral process and our eyebrows are not raised? Suddenly, he produces a bizarre constitutional justification based on a deliberate misinterpretation of Article 254 of the constitution and there is not even a whimper of protest. Surely, this deserves the attention of our conspiracy theorists much more than the Knights Templar.

Let us just factor in these vested interests in the rules of the game and take prima facie facts as reality, just as free will may be an illusory but workable model. Perhaps then we can actually do something about gaining an illusion of control over our own destinies.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He can be contacted via twitter @therealylh and his email address yasser.hamdani@gmail

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