The Hina-Bilawal Rumour

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It would take remarkable naïvete to give credence to such clumsy mudslinging

It’s often interesting to read Pakistani newspapers to see how everything comes back to India. Take gossip of the alleged affair between their foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar and the Bhutto heir apparent Bilawal. A column in The News International headlined ‘Educated but diseased mind behind campaign against Khar, Bilawal’ blames the Pakistani opposition for planting the news in a Bangladeshi newspaper, and says: ‘As expected, Indian publications and broadcast media picked the story up, as befits their obsession with Khar’s ‘glamorous looks’.’

It was a Dhaka tabloid called Blitz that first published the story. That itself makes the whole thing suspicious. There is zero credible attribution in its report. It mentions a western intelligence source as giving out the information, and intelligence sources are as good as figments of imagination. It reads like a TV serial—Bilawal, it claims, told Zardari that if he opposed the relationship, he would go to Switzerland and settle down with Hina, who is on the verge of divorcing her husband. The last line of the story is equally salacious: ‘Earlier this year, Bilawal Bhutto was caught in a sex scandal with some unknown females.’

It would take remarkable naïvete to give credence to such clumsy mudslinging, but the world, especially the media, are full of naïve people. In both Pakistan and India, mainstream media have regurgitated the gossip without verifying the facts. Social networking has got into the act. And, like all such items, it has now a life of its own. Recently, it was alleged that the ISI was behind the plant.

Do note that the stupidity of the reporting does not mean that there is no affair. What it means is that, on the basis of existing public information, there is no reason to believe there ever was an affair.