Pakistani columnist Mehr Tarar, who was embroiled in a controversy surrounding the death of former Union minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar, has broken her silence on the issue in a book slamming the media for dragging her in an "unsavoury story across the border".
In her book titled ‘Leaves from Lahore’ to be released next month, Tarar writes, “When bits of your personal life become a part of breaking news; when your life is caricatured into a few lines of half-truths and paraphrased analyses, you watch in helplessness and achieve a state of icy silence. Of wordlessness.”
Who is Mehr Tarar?
The 294-page hardbound published by Har Anand Publications, a collection of Tarar’s writings, blogs and jottings in recent years, covers a broad sweep — from life to love to cricket, politics, terrorism and Bollywood.
The Lahore-based author says in one of the passages, “When there is not much to a story that the media thought would become the next Clinton-Lewinsky or Sarkozy-Bruni story, most journalistic ethics are side-stepped and a no-holds barred attack is launched and your life turns into a cacophony of a scandal. You watch your life being discussed by strangers who do not have the remotest idea of who you are.”
Saying that she was "deeply pained" by the media onslaught, Tarar writes, "When your name becomes entangled in a drama in which your involvement was on a scale much less than what was being reported, no half measures are taken. You can only save yourself the harm of being attacked online by keeping quiet. Once you counter-attack, you become an accomplice in your own virtual lynching.”
Tarar, who has not named Sunanda Pushkar in the book, told Hindustan Times on phone that she had never met or spoken to Pushkar and it came as a surprise when she (Pushkar) sent her emails.
The book mentions Tharoor only in passing, but does praise him for his “very cool words” and “mesmerising voice”.
Calling Tharoor "a friend", she said whatever relationship she had with Shashi in the past ended before the unfortunate incident of January 2014. "Pushkar’s death had no connection with this, but I was dragged into a vicious and slanderous campaign," she said.
Tarar said she had not been in regular touch with Tharoor since Pushkar’s death a year and a half ago. "I wrote on his grandmother's demise, and he sent a two-line thank you. Also the same on his son's wedding,” she said.
Tharoor said that he does not comment on "any details of what remains an ongoing investigation".
"However, what she said is accurate...The only communication we have had with each other since 2013 was a courteous exchange of emails regarding my son’s recent wedding,” the former minister said in his email response to HT.