Fyodor Dostoevsky writes in his novel The Brothers Karamazov, “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Like individuals, this statement is true of societies as well. Societies that lie to themselves, ignore their weaknesses and blame others for their faults, become delusional and paranoid, eventually turning into a cesspool of intolerance, hatred and violence.

We Pakistanis are suffering from such societal ailment. Day in and day out, on roads, in rallies, in gatherings, in schools, colleges, offices and on media, we keep on lying to ourselves and to each other. We ignore our faults, blaming foreign hands for all of our problems. We are not prepared to recognise our true enemy, present amidst us, slowly bleeding us to death. This refuge in the realm of self- deception might be comforting, especially if the reality is bitter, but it eventually leads to self-destruction.

In the list of self created lies, or conspiracy theories, the most widespread is that there is a grand Judeo-Christian conspiracy against Pakistan, and Jewish lobby in control of the West and especially US, doesn’t want a viable Pakistan.

The problem with this theory is that though Jews have significant influence in the West, it is hilarious to consider one body of Jews controlling everything. The oversized influence of jews is due to their financial and intellectual achievements, emanating from their work ethics and resilience. If 22% of all the recipients of Nobel prize are Jews, it’s not that they received the Nobel because they were Jews, but because they were and still are at the helm of many breakthroughs in science and technology. American and Israeli interests may align on the issue of Israeli - Palestinian conflict but there is no such collusion, when it comes to Pakistan.

Another popular conspiracy theory is that 9/11 was staged by American CIA, and all the Jews working there on that fateful day were absent. The known facts point out that on 9/11 United States was attacked using highjacked passenger planes, resulting in almost 3000 deaths. After the incident, FBI launched the operation PENTTBOM investigating the event. In addition, to the material found on these suspects, NSA and German intelligence intercepted communications that linked the 9/11 bombers with Al Qaeda. But most important confirmation came from Bin Laden and his associates, who through various channels accepted the responsibility.

Third major myth is that West especially United States is suffering from terminal economic malaise that will devour Western capitalism and it’s model of democracy. It is true that Western economies are reeling from a slowdown but we are also aware that booms and busts are part of the economic cycles and weak banking system lies at the heart of Western economic trouble. A structural and banking reforms, sooner or later, will put Western economies on the path of recovery.

The main engine of Western economic growth is its innovation. Western organizations are at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs, researching on groundbreaking projects such as - to mention few - driverless cars, glass tablets, bionic eye for the blind, and a robot anesthesiologist. As long as West is at the forefront in innovation, it will remain strong and vibrant.

The fourth conspiracy theory is that Western powers, especially United States is after our nukes, and at first opportunity, would deprive us of WMDs. It is true, there is an apprehension in the West regarding our nukes, and it is because we have a history of proliferation and ours is the only failed state that has nukes. If we don’t achieve stability and counter extremism, our strategic assets might become a liability.

The fifth lie being deliberately told is that polio vaccination is a Western plot that leaves Pakistani children sterile. Because of this nefarious propaganda, polio teams have been targeted, undermining the anti-polio efforts, making Pakistan the biggest reservoir of polio in the world.

It is a trait of unsuccessful individuals and societies that they blame external circumstances for their failure. Introspection is first step towards self- rectification. We must come out of this realm of conspiracy theories and confront the reality.

The reality is that our intolerance has made Pakistan an inhospitable place for minorities. We must accept that our state institutions have fostered militancy that has now become a bane for us. Many madrassas, running on our charitable contributions are producing extremists and terrorists.

We might make up stories of great international conspiracy and keep on deceiving ourselves by believing that terrorists are not Pakistanis. But this deception will not eliminate terrorism. Why should foreign powers seek to destabilise Pakistan, when we and our corrupt leaders are already succeeding at it. We should accept that our problems are domestic and their remedies are also in our hands. Persistent self-deception will turn us into our own worst enemy.

The writer is a freelance columnist and has worked as a broadcast journalist.


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