Pakistani columnist and socialite Mehr Tarar has declared that Naila Inayat, a Pakistani journalist with verified Twitter account, is actually a person who doesn’t even exist. Quote tweeting a tweet saying that Ms. Inayat is a fake, fictitious twitter character, Tarar said that she has raised this suspicion earlier also.
Mehr Tarar claimed that no one in Pakistan has met this person, or for that matter, has even heard of her. It is pertinent to note here that Ms. Inayat has written articles in various Pakistani and international mainstream publications. But Ms. Tarar believes that all these publications were dealing with an imaginary person till now.
The tweet that Ms. Tarar was quoting itself was quoting another tweet, which had claimed that Ms. Inayat was created by The Print, news and affairs website launched by Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta. Pakistani Twitter user Maria Sartaj wrote that “A reporter no one had heard of in Pak became the biggest messenger of anti-minority news from Pak”.
A large number of Pakistani social media users made similar claims, which seem ridiculous in the face of it.
The Print was launched by Shekhar Gupta (and Barkha Dutt, who mysteriously dropped out) in 2016, while a simple look at Ms. Inayat’s Twitter profile itself shows that she had been writing for various publications much before the website came into existence. Following is a tweet of hers from 2013, which shows an article authored by her for USA Today:
There are many such tweets and articles from her that are from era when Shekhar Gupta’s website didn’t exist. In fact, most of the articles by Ms. Inayat are in non-Indian publications, and thus the claims of her being imaginary and crated by some Indian journalist are laughable. Yet, someone as senior like Mehr Tarar made resorted to such means.
However, not everyone in Pakistani was party to this weird conspiracy theory. Author Salman Rashid replied to Mehr Tarar, saying that he had met Ms. Inayat personally at The News on Sunday, a Pakistani weekly, in 2007. It may be noted that Ms. Inayat’s Twitter profile mentions that she had worked in the weekly earlier.
The attack on Ms. Inayat by Islamists from Pakistan is understandable, as she has become very popular on social media in India recently due to her reporting on atrocities on minorities in Pakistan, especially kidnap and forced conversion and marriage of Hindu, Sikh and Christian minor girls by Muslim men.
Mehr Tarar had become very popular on social media in India after she was ‘accused‘ of having an affair with senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor back in 2014.