Editorial peddling of conspiracy theories

Pakistan’s Daily Times is fast becoming a leading purveyor of conspiracy theories

There are different ways of peddling conspiracy theories. Lacking finesse, the peddler would assert that it is obvious that Indian intelligence agencies carried out an attempt on the life of Pakistan’s envoy to Sri Lanka (who was himself a senior official in a Pakistani intelligence agency).

But a more sophisticated way to peddle the same conspiracy theory is to present it as a conspiracy theory, ask some hypothetical questions, and hope that it is just a conspiracy theory. Pakistan’s Daily Times, a fine newspaper but for its penchant for conspiracy theories, shows you how.

Sri Lankan authorities say the attack was triggered by reports that Pakistan has agreed to provide Colombo with arms worth $150 million. Tamil rebels, the argument goes, think the arms will be used against them and have signalled to Pakistan that it should not go through with the deal. Earlier, say reports, India had rejected a request by Sri Lanka to export arms to it.

But the timing of the attack is somewhat perplexing. As conspiracy theories go, given that this is not the first time Pakistan has sold arms to Sri Lanka, and the fact that India seems to be putting the squeeze on Colombo, could it be that the Tamils were put up to this by a third party that may not like too much Pakistani influence in that country’s defence establishment? The time would seem to be propitious, according to this theory: Mumbai blasts, followed by a dip in India-Pakistan relations, the expulsion of diplomats, the stalling of the peace process, Pakistan’s allegations that India is fishing in Balochistan and so on. Could it be that the two players have now decided to play on the periphery?

We hope not. And we hope that this theory is just that: a conspiracy theory. [DT]