[Here’s another twist to the liberal-conservative debate in Pakistan. We think we know about right-wing nationalists, but do we have the correct definition of ‘liberal nationalists’? Obviously most Pakistani nationalists are not Islamists. In fact, is an Islamist ever anything other than just an Islamist or can there really be an Islamist nationalist? It would be interesting to find out what our readers think of the points raised by this article. Is the writer’s stance on Blackwater, for example, a variant of xenophobia or other biases unworthy of liberal values the writer claims to uphold? Or is it a worthy stand against so-called neo-imperialism? Or further still, are these just dangerous and irrational views based on mere conspiracy theories? Is she a liberal rightly accusing some of her fellow liberals, just like Islamists and right-wing nationalists do, of being liberal fascists? Is she saying that she is more patriotic than those she considers liberal fascists, or just less dogmatic? Please do respond with your thoughts on the matter – posted by BC]
The News, March 17, 2010
By Humeira Iqtidar
“Why are Pakistanis so prone to conspiracy theories?” a colleague at Cambridge recently asked. He was referring to recent debates about the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan. A version of this question is echoed by the liberal intelligentsia of Pakistan. The local version emphasises the focus on Blackwater within the rhetoric of a segment of society, notably the Islamists. A common refrain amongst the liberal intelligentsia to the question of Blackwater presence in Pakistan is that we must look inwards, we must critique ourselves and our own creations such as the Taliban before we focus on Blackwater. Through framing any critique of Blackwater as conspiracy theory, there is some congruence between the stance of my colleague at Cambridge, who is largely unfamiliar with Pakistan, and the liberal intelligentsia: they both see this focus on Blackwater as an illogical act, as a hiding behind and of course, as an abdication of our own responsibility.