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January 14, 2019

ThinkFest moot: Conspiracy theories threat to democracy: Musadik Malik

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January 14, 2019

LAHORE: Senator Musadik Malik has identified conspiracy theories as a threat to democracy entailing economic hardships, loss of core competence and absence of governance that directly affects the masses welfare. “The conspiracy theories create suspicion, which increases the cost of transaction; destroys core competence to the detriment of strategic edge in service delivery; and adversity in governance,” he said, while delivering his talk on “Conspiracy Theories: A Threat to Democracy?” on the final day of a two-day ThinkFest Conference under the aegis of Information Technology University (ITU) Centre for Governance and Policy’s Afkar-e-Taza at the Alhamra Art Centre Sunday. Sir Richard Evans from Cambridge, UK, gave a global view of the conspiracy theories.

Sarcastically calling democracy a conspiracy against ‘national interest’, Musadik said democracy had been manipulated with manipulation of information in the last 70 years. He said four democratic governments had been toppled in the 1990s including Benazir Bhutto’s two governments at the hands of civilian presidents and two of Nawaz Sharif – one by a civilian president and the other by a military dictator.

He said conspiracy theories are legitimate and therefore strategic. “The act of toppling democratic governments had constitutional legitimacy in the form of 58(2)b, judiciary’s stamp in the shape of doctrine of necessity, Legal Framework Order (LFO) and parliament’s approval. “The political parties also become tool to give legitimacy to conspiracy theories as both the PML-N and the PPP became beneficiaries of the toppling of democratic setups in the country,” he added.

He said conspiracy theories are real as Russia, if it was true, influenced the US elections through social media. “An anchor in a TV show declared me a CIA agent with a concocted story of doling out $20 million to Cambridge Analytica to manipulate Pakistani elections,” he added.

He further said the conspiracy theories are used to malign political space, and in retaliation, political space malign institutional space. “So there are no innocent bystanders,” he remarked and added that one person is defending a conspiracy and weaving a conspiracy at the same time.

“The result is horrible. It results in catchy development, fractured service delivery, disillusioned people and sow seeds of instability and yet Brutus is an honourable man,” he concluded.

Earlier speaking at a session on “The Manto Film Controversy: History Revisited?”eminent historian Ayesha Jalal from Tufts University, emphasised on generating indigenous thinking to come out of the colonial influence. “Thinking can’t be improved until people start reading,” she said, adding that the people of Pakistan have forgotten their treasure troves as geniuses like Saadi and Manto were shining examples of our glorious past. “We can quote John Keats and PB Shelley but can’t quote Manto, Iqbal and Faiz,” she lamented, saying that banning of the film “Manto” in Pakistan had more to do with its makers ie the Indians.

She regretted that there were hardly any quality teachers and hence no quality research. So, where are we heading? “Our problem is that we don’t act together. If politics divides us, then consumerism must unite us,” she said, adding that the demand must come from the people on issues of public importance. “There should be public outrage over environmental issues,” she added.

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