Think back to a more innocent time in Pakistan, say around 2007 or so. Terrorism may have been at its peak then, but all the right-thinking people knew who the enemy was: the Taliban and its enablers in the media, who spun wild theories to explain how everything was the fault of the Americans. The US –– the conspiracy theorists somehow expected us to believe –– was using robot flying saucers to attack us. Ludicrous as it sounded, these deranged people claimed that hordes of beefy Blackwater mercenaries were roaming the country. Clearly, no serious and sane person was going to fall for any of this jihadist propaganda.
One by one, we got confirmation that drone attacks were real, that the US did indeed have a lot of private security contractors working in the shadows and, in the effort to catch Osama bin Laden, even ran a fake vaccination programme. Welcome to Pakistan, where even the most feverish anti-US conspiracy theories turn out to be, well, true.
Those who took the pragmatic position that in a fight between the Taliban and the US, it would be wise to pick the latter’s side, should have had to reexamine all their core beliefs –– if not when drone attacks became a matter of public knowledge, then at least when Raymond Davis was revealed to be a spook. But we’re in a war, dammit, and picking a side is vital, no matter how much we mocked Dubya when he insisted on the same formulation. Thus, you have Pakistan’s liberals still denouncing the conspiracy theorists but having nary a negative word for those who are so adept at proving that the conspiracies actually exist.