This picture taken on February 24, 2013 shows Pakistani youth crossing a street during a nationwide power blackout in Karachi. Pakistan was hit by a nationwide blackout for more than two hours after the breakdown of a major plant caused power stations to stop working across the country, officials said on February 25. — AFP Photo

On Sunday night, a large part of the country was plunged into darkness.

But while the lights went out in major cities, Twitter and other social media forums lit up with panic, or perhaps relish, as people started speculating on terrorist attacks, cyber attacks and even a military coup:

The panic spread quickly, and soon people started receiving text messages claiming that ‘something wasn’t right’ – despite the fact that power outages, although not on the same scale, are a regular occurrence in Pakistan.

The blackout isn’t the only phenomenon people think is the result of a ‘conspiracy’.

Our politicians and media also use the word “saazish” (conspiracy) regularly to talk about everything and anything. Across the spectrum – whether from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) the country’s leaders speak of sinister plans to derail democracy, for example.

Even Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the right-wing conglomerate Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) see eye-to-eye on ‘the foreign hand’ in Pakistan.

It appears, therefore, that ‘unseen forces’ make up a major component of public discourse in Pakistan – on television, in drawing rooms, and at public and political gatherings.

But how much of this is justified? Is it naïve, or even ludicrous to pin down the various ills Pakistan faces – whether a weak civilian government, constant power outages, or terrorism – to a conspiracy? Do these conspiracies have some truth to them?

Even if they are unlikely to be true, given Pakistan’s rocky political history, is it only natural for people to assume the worst when an unprecedented blackout occurs, like the one on Sunday?

After all, even a recent blackout in the US created a frenzy laden with conspiracy theories. The questions to ponder on is – In Pakistan, are conspiracies the domain of the paranoid, or the realistic?

Updated Feb 26, 2013 02:07pm

Comments (10) (Closed)

Zeeshan Shamsi
Feb 27, 2013 06:27pm
If they didnt crash a helicopter this time we would never know who came and for
s ali haider
Feb 27, 2013 06:13am
yes of course it was the conspiracy , just a admonition that we can come again
Agha Ata (USA)
Feb 27, 2013 02:53am
There are so many conspiracies against Pakistan that It must be a conspiracy itself! I am sure.
Feb 27, 2013 03:38pm
It could have been undertaker.
Agha Ata (USA)
Feb 26, 2013 03:48pm
It is, indeed, a well organized black out. It must have taken a lot of competent people to do it. :)
Farooq Ali
Feb 27, 2013 12:13pm
Look into your bags if something is missing or not you will know was the blackout by design or default .
Karachi Wala
Feb 26, 2013 06:32pm
I think if the title of this article modified, it will make more sense. "Conspiracy theories in- Brain Lights out".
Feb 26, 2013 06:27pm
Conspiracy theories are a part and parcel of people with a dishonest and deceitful mindset that naturally views everything with suspicion. Pakistan as a nation and society have done away even with a semblance of ethics and morality.
Moeen uddin
Feb 26, 2013 02:57pm
Nothing surprises us anymore. Inefficiency, mismanagement are the hallmarks of present administration. Conveniently, we blame foreign agencies. Trouble is, no one is accountable,minister of water & power department is still there but few at lower level will lose their jobs.
Feb 28, 2013 08:57am
I have heard them all, from Bin Laden still being alive and Malala was never shot in the head. The problem is Pakistanis believe them, that is worrying, they will believe anything that does not incriminate Pakistan. Who turned the Lights out????