There are few places in the world where the truth is so shrouded in mystery that lies become publicly accepted truths, and the truth brushed aside as a lie; where there are no known knowns, or even known unknowns — but simply, unknown unknowns. Pakistan is such a place. So disconnected with reality — or is reality that’s so disjointed — are the manufactured narratives of the establishment (read, the Pakistani Army) that no one, not even the people in charge, seems to know what’s going on. Were the attackers who besieged the naval base recently jihadis, American/Indian spies, defected Pakistani soldiers? Who knows.

Cyril Almeida writes:

A combination of denial and exaggeration, that self-constructed narrative — subtly and not-so-subtly foisted off on the public via the media and other channels of manipulation — acts as a buffer against any meaningful inspection of the army’s track record.

The propagators of this dizzying confusion continue unabated, taking their charade to comedic heights.

On June 9, the satirical magazine, The Onion, had a funny story pointedly mocking Pakistan’s double-dealing with the US. It begins:

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency restated Thursday its commitment to the fight against terrorism, pledging full cooperation with U.S. forces during the upcoming strike on an al-Qaeda safe house on June 12 at 5:23 a.m. near the small town of Razmani in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan.

There’s a picture of a Pakistani official pointing out exactly where the Americans will hit, in addition to the exact time. The piece quotes the ISI Chief saying that “Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with our American allies in hunting down those who threaten our national security”, while in the same piece the head of the intelligence agency tips off militants:

“I know if I were a member of al-Qaeda, I’d want to cover my tracks very carefully,” Pasha said. “Because any evidence that hasn’t been carted away through the back alley near the market will be turned over to U.S. special forces, who will arrive approximately one hour later and will have full access to the site.”

“And what I definitely wouldn’t do is try to escape to one of the other safe houses in town, since the Americans already have them under surveillance, and have been watching them for quite some time,” he added.

Now that’s funny.

But imagine my surprise when I read this in the Washington Post:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Twice in recent weeks, the United States provided Pakistan with the specific locations of insurgent bomb-making factories, only to see the militants learn their cover had been blown and vacate the sites before military action could be taken, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

U.S. officials say they do not know how the operation was compromised. But they are concerned that either the information was inadvertently leaked inside Pakistan or insurgents were warned directly by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI.

So there it is. Reality imitates satire in Pakistan. Hah?

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