LONDON/ISLAMABAD: Senior unnamed PPP officials have blamed Pakistan’s powerful spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for running a defamation campaign against Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a leading London newspaper said on Friday.
Claims of an affair between Hina Rabbani Khar, the 34-year-old foreign minister, and the 24-year-old scion of the country’s most powerful dynasty made it to British press on Friday as The Daily Telegraph devoted a sizeable coverage to the rumours that had fuelled feverish speculation after they were reported in a Bangladeshi tabloid.
According to The Blitz Weekly, the married foreign minister, who has two young children with her millionaire husband, and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the PPP Co-Chairman,want to marry and have been regularly talking on the telephone and sending cards to each other. The tabloid claimed President Zardari was firmly opposed to their alleged relationship and had sought details of their mobile telephone conversations to establish the facts.
The paper said that Ms Khar and her husband had dismissed the claims as “reprehensible” and “trash”, but they had been reported widely in Pakistan where they spawned conspiracy theories among Islamabad’s political classes.
The paper quoting senior PPP figures as saying that they believed the claims were part of a plot by the country’s feared Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency to damage Hina Khar’s reputation because it blamed her for her part in facilitating a UN investigation into hundreds of missing people detained by the security forces.
A PPP official told The Daily Telegraph that the “ISI expects the United Nations’ Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to recommend senior army and intelligence officials be charged for their role and blame Hina Khar for allowing the delegation into the country”.
“They are not happy with her,” the official told the paper. “The UN mission received a cold reception but Hina was called in by the president to meet him and the army chief. She crossed some red lines.”
The paper noted that Hina Khar, the daughter of a powerful Punjab landowner, had been the subject of rumours concerning her private life since she first became a minister in General Musharraf’s government in 2004.
There was speculation then that she might marry a prime minister of the past, but instead she married businessman Firoze Gulzar. She, later, contested the polls as a PPP candidate in 2008 and was appointed as finance minister in the new PPP-led government. She won many admirations for her stylish clothes and designer bags during her visit to India last year where the two countries made significant progress in improving their relationship, added The Telegraph report.
Meanwhile, In Islamabad the defence sources have rejected an impression given by a London newspaper involving Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in allegation mongering with reference to a story appeared in a tabloid of Bangladesh, and termed it baseless and having no foundation.
“The intelligence gathering agencies of Pakistan have got nothing to do with such speculations and as such no problem exists between the foreign minister and any agency,” the sources reminded.
The sources reminded that political parties don’t offer their comments on such issues through unnamed spokesman and for the reason it can be said with fair amount of certainty that it is the handiwork of the elements that want to create trouble for Pakistan.
It is not something new because such people have been fabricating misleading and mischievous stories in the past. The sources termed the effort involving the agencies as rubbish and worst shape of yellow journalism.