Pro-Pakistan US traveler Cynthia D Ritchie leaves Islamabad unserved

By Sana Haroon

“Imagine me, as a foreigner, arguing with Pakistanis as to why they should travel in their own country. If you can’t convince yourself to explore and invest in your own nation, why would you speak ill of the international community for doing the same?”

Writer of such in-depth and beautiful expression mentioned above, Cynthia D Ritchie, has been travelling and promoting Pakistan since many years. Her writings have been appreciated not only by Pakistani and foreign readers but also by several important and influential officials of Pakistani government.

Alas, she left Islamabad today not with a pleasant mood when she read a fake news about her arrest in a local online newspaper. After posting news, online newspaper accepted that she was not arrested or investigated.

Online Newspaper reported that she was off loaded from Doha-bound flight at Islamabad International Airport and was arrested by officials of Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) of Pakistan due to her overstay in this country she promotes through her writing.

One of her article published in a local English daily titled “Pakistan through a different lens” was published just a day before this incident she faced today.

Cynthia D Ritchie has been travelling and promoting Pakistan since many years

Freelance director, producer and communications consultant writes that

“It’s been almost 10 years since most of my family and friends thought I’d lost my mind by travelling to Pakistan. So, what is there to Pakistan?

The crowded, littered streets, poor infrastructure, education and healthcare crises, religious extremism, child labour, gender discrimination, corruption, abuse of power, and perhaps worst of all, media contributing to the decline in the perception of self and others; causing us to call into a question who we are as citizens of this world, as followers of our chosen faiths and as cultures within cultures, restricting our movements and thereby eliminating priceless education in the form of travel.

I’ve met Karachiites who’ve never been to Peshawar, Lahories who’ve never been to Karachi, and I’d wager that most Pakistanis have not explored the northern areas like they should. Why? Because they are afraid, based on their viewing the world through a lens clouded by years of propaganda.

Imagine me, as a foreigner, arguing with Pakistanis as to why they should travel in their own country. If you can’t convince yourself to explore and invest in your own nation, why would you speak ill of the international community for doing the same?

According to a series of tweets she posted, her love for this country remains unshaken even after such an unpleasant situation she faced.

Pakistani authorities should take notice of this incident and should take action against responsible officials of FIA who were instrumentals to leave an unpleasant impression of Pakistan on a writer who has always been positive and proactive to promote Pakistan.

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She had been traveling to tribal areas and had been promoting infrastructure developments done by Pakistan Army in previously Out of Bound areas. She has also been promoting how Pakistan won the war against terrorism in Afghan bordering areas.

Instead she should have been appreciated and honoured by the government officials for prompting Pakistan which desperately needs a soft image in the world, she was disturbed before her departure from Islamabad.

Will any investigation be carried out about what happened at Islamabad International Airport on October 15 and would an action be taken against those who left a bitter impression of Pakistan on an American travel writer Cynthia D Ritchie who has been writing positively about our country?