Salman Masood gives a clear warning about what is happening in the aftermath of the Faisal Shahzad case. We see it all around us now, the rise of the conspiracy theories and the desperate attempts to transform Faisal Shahzad into some blonde-haired Christian American, rather than the Pakistani Muslim that he is. It seems that people will believe anything so long as it does not make us face the truth. In doing so, we let ourselves become hostages to lies.
While authorities are still tracking down what connections he had with TTP – maybe they were very loose, maybe he was just a pathetic wannabe – for the media Talibans and jihadi sympathizers to tell all of these crazy conspiracies is making matters worse – not for Faisal or Hakimullah Mehsud or any American bogeyman. It is making matters worse for us.
The knee-jerk reaction by ultra-nationalists and terror apologists, who have already started to cast doubts over this grim episode as yet another conspiracy to sully the image of Pakistan, will not help to salvage the damage. An effort to dismiss a Pakistani connection by stressing that Faisal Shahzad was a naturalised American citizen and had minimal links with the homeland would be equally erroneous. He travelled to Pakistan at least half a dozen times in the last eight years.
Pakistanis need to think loud and hard as to why an extremist attitude has become so deeply entrenched in the national psyche. Religious intolerance and xenophobia has become a disheartening staple of national life and discourse. It is easy for anyone having the smallest of proclivities towards extremism to end up with militant networks. Feigning ignorance or denying the existence of poisonous radical incubators in Pakistan is naïve. One hopes that the likes of Faisal Shahzad are a minority. But even that is not a consolation. This minority is holding everyone hostage.