A foreign correspondent for the UAE newspaper, The Nation, reports how the arrest of would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is impacting public discourse in Pakistan:
Spoon-fed propaganda for three decades by a powerful nationalist lobby within the military, political parties and the independent media, many Pakistanis viewed international outcry about the residence of terrorists in the country’s barely governed tribal regions bordering Afghanistan as part of an alleged US-Israeli-Indian conspiracy against Pakistan, in its role as the Muslim world’s only nuclear weapons power.
However, prompted by the suspected activity and connections of Mr Shahzad, the scion of a socially privileged family….Pakistanis are beginning to ask themselves incisive questions.
Leading anchors and opinion makers on independent Pakistani cable news channels were quick to focus on Mr Shahzad’s military connections: his father was operation chief of the air force, and his uncle commanded Pakistan’s tribal paramilitary force.
Matiullah Jan, current affairs anchor for DawnNews, a respected Urdu and English-language channel, said on his prime-time show: “Considering the armed forces’ role in grooming militants for Afghanistan, surely this has to be viewed as a historical irony.”
“Oh, the poor boy must have gone mad. Why did he do something like that? He surely could have had no reason to do such a bad thing,” said Sehrish Anwer, a homemaker and mother of three students attending the Lahore Grammar School, a high school that follows the British curriculum.
Her 17-year-old daughter and high school senior, Iyla, said the suspected involvement of Mr Shahzad had shaken belief in conspiracy theories widely shared by students. “Now people will have to come to terms with reality— that this is our problem, not some Zionist-Hindu nationalist-whatever conspiracy, and we have to face it and fix it ourselves.”