Earlier this summer, as U.S. Army helicopters began evacuating stranded people from Pakistan's flood-ravaged northwest, one Pakistani newspaper chose to focus on a more sinister dimension of American military activity in the country.
According to sources cited in an article in the Pakistani daily, the Nation, Washington is constructing a "huge base" in Islamabad to "control" South Asia. American soldiers and "personnel of Blackwater" will soon arrive, with a Guantanamo Bay-style detention camp to follow. The article noted that the base lies near Pakistani nuclear sites, offering "all kinds of opportunities" for Washington.
While many Pakistanis reject such talk, many others, particularly members of the country's free-wheeling media organizations, peddle it so frequently that it has inspired a joke: The only growth industry in Pakistan is the conspiracy theory.