Twenty years ago, one often heard ‘yeh mulk halat-e-jang mein hai’, which now feels more like ‘yeh mulk halat-e-conspiracy mein hai’. The country is in a state of conspiracy. Will tell you how, but don’t ask why. Situations vary, but the protagonist and villain remain the same.
As always, the universe is conspiring against Pakistan. It always has, it always will. How else do you explain TikTok being banned in the country, for the fourth time, over continuous presence of ‘inappropriate content’, just when the President of Pakistan became a world-famous TikToker? Or Pakistan stopping the United States in its tracks before it could ask for air bases, and still managing to say “absolutely not”. Felt like the universe had a message that remained unread.
Then there was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent trip to Uzbekistan, which led to the promise of making a new film on Zaheeruddin Babar, the first Mughal emperor. Is Ertugrul’s time up in Naya Pakistan? Not to forget the revelation that PM Khan, “being a student of history”, knows about Uzbekistan more than Uzbeks, which knowing Khan’s historical marvels is hardly a surprise.
Also not surprising that “international racket led by R&AW” was Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid’s take on the abduction of Afghan envoy’s daughter in Islamabad. He also announced there has been no kidnapping and the envoy’s daughter was using internet during her journey. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured justice, and the National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf shared slides of trending hashtags on the issue. The incident sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries, with Afghanistan calling back its ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan. Ironically, calling the kidnapping “against humanity”, the Afghan Taliban spokesperson urged the Pakistan government to arrest and punish the perpetrators. Punish how, they didn’t tell, but the blame still lies with the conspiring universe.
This week has been all about conspiring conspiracies.
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Indian conspiracy, of course
Staying on the blame game, the cat it is said is finally out of the bag. What Pakistan suspected India of conspiring for long was now a confession of sorts — Indian Minister for External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, taking credit for ensuring that Pakistan is added to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) greylist. Now, this is a bit unfair. Did Pakistan not work hard to be on the FATF greylist? And then to retain the spot, keeping you all enthralled like Fifty Shades of Grey. Every FATF deadline promising to get off the list and when failing to do so, celebrating the success of not going to a darker shade of grey. Give credit where credit is due. It is never easy to ban and jail philanthropists and national ‘heroes’.
Now sample how Kashmir affairs minister Ali Amin Gandapur was banned from ‘Azad Kashmir’ itself after he made unpleasant comments at an election event and promised projects worth billions of rupees. Unreal times, Gandapur was not that Azad anymore. Never forget how Gandapur, last August, was adamant that he could go to Jammu and Kashmir whenever he wants because the Imran Khan government issued a new map showing the territory as part of Pakistan. Yet something conspired, and Gandapur is still here and so are we!
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If you still have doubts about the conspiracies of the universe, then your last stop is the mobile phone of PM Khan, “who was selected as a person of interest by India in 2019” as revealed by the Pegasus Project.
This is not all, the Pakistan government believes that the data from Khan’s phone was likely obtained by former PM Nawaz Sharif with Narendra Modi’s help, via Israeli spyware. This critical collaboration, which has no record anywhere, was highlighted by a junior minister for information who was actually surprised that Imran Khan was even on the surveillance list because he wasn’t the prime minister at the time, nor in any decision-making position. Now that’s the real ‘leak’. If Khan wasn’t the PM of Pakistan in 2019, then who was tirelessly standing in the sun for 30 minutes for the Kashmir cause? That’s a conspiracy for times to come.
Though the PM Khan of post-2019 has proudly shared that his phone has been tapped by the “outstanding intelligence agencies” of Pakistan. That still doesn’t make it cool for Modi to see Khan’s personal stuff, even if he promises dekh ke ki delete kar doonga yaar.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.