Nor is Talat alone in suffering from this forked tongue affliction. The Quilliam Foundation, a UK anti-extremist think tank, recently held a function in Islamabad. The event gathered together some of Pakistan’s media elite, youth activists, reformed terrorists and foreign journalists. One of the speakers at the event was Hamid Mir. I have it on good authority that Mr Mir was the voice of rational moderation that day. He talked unequivocally of his disgust with the intelligence agencies, he explicitly condemned the Taliban as anti-Islam forces and passionately argued — in English — that the only future for Pakistan was democracy and that it should be protected at all costs. Yes, I am talking about Hamid Mir, host of “Capital Talk”. Version 2.0 of Hamid Mir had transformed, becoming the personification of enlightened moderation. But then he was speaking in English and not to his usual Geo constituents.
Of course the reason that the Hamid Mirs and Talat Hussains of this world can get away with this duplicity is due to the linguistic Berlin Wall that the establishment likes to retain. Project an urbane, liberal image to the West with your (mostly) rational, logical and relatively free English media, and feed the wider public bile, conspiracy theories and irrational, simplistic nonsense in Urdu, thus ensuring that a suitably malleable, impressionable public can be whipped up when said establishment is fed up with the present government.
Do you remember when AQ Khan was forced to apologise to the nation for giving away nuclear secrets for personal gain? In what language did the disgraced scientist speak to his countrymen? English, of course. The establishment didn’t want the father of the bomb discredited as a money-grubbing chancer in the eyes of the public. Change the language and you change the audience. …
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