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The difference between ‘interference’ and ‘conspiracy’

"Interference is open and bitter, while a conspiracy is always silent, secretive and harmful. Countries interfere openly but they do not conspire openly"

The words “interference” and “conspiracy” are being used interchangeably in Pakistani politics by a bloc. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general (DG) in his press conference and National Security Committee meeting confirmed “interference”, however they denied the “conspiracy”. It was assumed that after these two major developments, this chapter will be closed. But the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) reinvented new semantics to refresh its flawed narrative.

So let’s clear the confusion.

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“Interference” is when you dictate to someone what to do. The US has this habit of dictating to everyone what to do. It calls out Iran for its atomic program. That’s interference. The US is no one to tell Iran what to do with its program. However, we cannot call it conspiracy.

The US called out India for buying oil from Russia. That’s interference. The US cannot dictate to India who to trade with. But we cannot call it a conspiracy because the US did not practically do something to stop this trade between Russia and India. The US was upset with Pakistan’s ties with China and Russia as well. It was upset because we did not call out Russia for intervening in Ukraine (we did call out Russia). The US cannot dictate to us how to make our foreign policy. That’s interference. However, we cannot call it a conspiracy.

Besides dictating to someone, sometimes even showing a concern is called interference. For example, if a country shows concern over occupied Kashmir, India quickly sends a diplomatic cable and tells them not to “interfere” in their domestic matters. Yes, showing concern for Kashmir is labeled as “interference” in India. Similarly, if someone calls out Israel for killing innocent Palestinians, it thinks they are interfering in its matters.

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In cases like Kashmir, Palestine, Syria and now Ukraine, “interference” is inevitable. When we see oppression, we cannot just close our eyes and mind our own business. We cannot shut our mouth just for the sake of trade and foreign interests. We have to speak up, even if someone labels our valid concerns as “interference”, as India does whenever we call it out for what it is doing in occupied Kashmir. But India still cannot call our foreign statement on Kashmir a conspiracy, can it?

The reason that both the ISPR and the NSC called this interference a routine is because countries do this on a daily basis. They interfere into each other’s matters.

Countries call out other countries and foreign offices send cables in response. In diplomatic sphere, the word interference has multiple connotations and contexts.

However, there is a fine line between interference and conspiracy.

Interference is open and bitter, while a conspiracy is always silent, secretive and harmful. Countries interfere openly but they do not conspire openly. If Indian foreign office issues statements on Balochistan, that is interference, but if it fans the insurgency there, that is a conspiracy. Kulbhushan Jadhav is a conspiracy. And surely, India will never write a letter to tell you that it is doing it. What India did through Abhinandan Varthaman was a conspiracy. Did it announce it is going to do it? Surely it did not because a conspiracy is not informed. It is executed secretly. And a sitting government never knows about this kind of conspiracies; it is the national security agencies who deal with the foreign conspiracies and, in our case, they do it very well.

It wasn’t Imran Khan who caught Jadhav; the agencies tracked and caught him. On February 27, 2019, interior minister (at that time) did not know that two Indian jets were coming to Pakistan; it was the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) who alerted and shot down the jets.

National security institutions tackle the “conspiracies” and the Foreign Office tackles the “interference”. The government is supposed to take care of the economy and public sector and the PTI government failed in its domain miserably.

Imran Khan had alleged that the US aided the opposition and paid his disgruntled members to ditch him at the last moment of the no-confidence motion. This theory was not mentioned in the letter. The US did not tell Imran Khan that this is how they are going to oust him.

This is a theory that the PTI tells to its followers over and over, which has been denied. Now, Imran Khan is misguiding his followers with a wrong translation of “interference” that we already discussed above.

Imran Khan made this accusation on the basis of his members meeting a foreign ambassador. A lawmaker meets a lot of people, including ambassadors, foreign envoys, politicians, etc, so one cannot accuse them of a wicked plot merely on that basis. Also, the no-confidence motion was in consideration for months and it was not an out-of-the-syllabus move. To counter the motion, Imran Khan was supposed to get a majority, but he did not approach his allies on time. Instead, he wasted his time in bullying disgruntled members and addressing masses that were not going to vote in the motion anyway. His negligence caused his ouster, not a foreign power. So instead of misinterpreting the word “interference”, he should come clean and tell people that he had been misguided about the letter as well and close this chapter to focus on elections and reinvention of the PTI.

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