A Caucasian (white) American woman, Cynthia D. Ritchie, living in Islamabad for the last several years, has recently created a storm with an abusive tweet about former Prime Minister, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
is one of several self-styled ‘Gora Pakistanis’ who praise Pakistan on
social media while enjoying Pakistani hospitality though she goes
farther than most in supporting the current ruling party (PTI), abusing
its opponents, defending the Pakistan army, and attacking its critics.
is supposed to be a ‘social media influencer.’ But she is not published
outside Pakistan, her film on Pakistan has been seen mainly by
Pakistanis, and her social media following is also largely among those
Pakistanis who feel good at seeing a white skinned person praising their
It makes one wonder who she is influencing.
have been rumors that ‘Cynthia Baji,’ as she is known to her
supporters, or ‘Ritchie, the Bitchie,’ as she has been nicknamed by
those she routinely abuses and attacks, enjoys the support of ISPR or
other powerful quarters in the country. Cynthia herself brags about he
connections to the security establishment in her social media posts.
Ricthie has cultivated an image in Pakistan of being an American who
supports Pakistan. But there is no evidence that she has done anything
to support Pakistan in America. She has never testified before Congress,
written an oped in a U.S. newspaper, or appeared on U.S. television.
Nor has she registered in the U.S. under law as a lobbyist for Pakistan.
In an article
on a Pakistani website, Cynthia Ritchie “describes herself as a global
citizen” and claims that “her childhood desire to be Indiana Jones led
her to Pakistan and the love for [Pakistan’s] people keeps bringing her
back.” India Jones, as we know, was a fictional adventurer and professor
of archaeology, not a self-proclaimed media consultant with no
Ritchie churns out great words for those who want to hear positive
things about Pakistan from foreigners at a time when most international
news outlets do not say enough good things about Pakistan. But what is
the point in a foreigner saying good things about Pakistan to
Pakistanis. Where is her media influence when it comes to the
nobody knows how Cynthia Ritchie pays for her lifestyle, her residence
in Islamabad’s posh E-7 neighborhood where nuclear scientist Dr. A.Q.
Khan once lived, her travel, or the boozy parties that attract powerful
members of Rawalpindi-Islamabad society.
someone in the Pakistan government or armed forces is paying her to
praise Pakistan to Pakistanis, that is a waste of Pakistan’s meager
Moreover, those who have watched the Netflix series ‘The Spy’ would notice the similarity in the conduct of Cynthia Ritchie and the show’s chief character, the real life Israeli spy, Eli Cohen.
arrived in Damascus, Syria in 1961, pretending to be of Syrian origin
and to love Syria. He praised the Baath Party and cultivated ties with
senior military officials. He even became a confidante and adviser to
the Defense Minister. In 1965, he was discovered as a spy while
transmitting intelligence to Israel by wireless.
the time he was discovered, Eli Cohen had done much damage to Syria.
His ‘affectionate’ and seemingly harmless gestures contributed to
Syria’s military defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Cohen’s most
famous achievement was the tour of the Golan Heights in which he collected intelligence on the Syrian fortifications there.
Spy’ ostensibly pretended to sympathize with soldiers exposed to the
sun, and helped plant trees at different positions, supposedly to
provide shade. During the 1967 war, the Israeli army used the trees as
targeting markers for their artillery. This resulted in Israel being
able to capture the Golan Heights in two days.
is interesting to note that all the so-called ‘Gora Pakistanis’ who
shower praise on Pakistan to win access and influence in Pakistan
started showing up after the U.S. raid on Abbottabad targeting Osama bin
Laden. Is that just a coincidence or did someone discover a new
technique for embedding intelligence gatherers in a Pakistan that had
become more security conscious?
is a deadly weapon and foreign intelligence services must have noticed
the Pakistani desire for international praise and ‘positive image of
Pakistan.’ Have they exploited it by sending the likes of Cynthia
Ritchie, who became known only after their arrival in Pakistan? Spies
usually have simple back stories and their background is always mired in
is known about Cynthia Ritchie’s life before she found proclaimed her
‘love for Pakistan.’ On social media, she describes herself as ‘World
Traveler. Communications Consultant. Producer.’ But Ritchie has yet to
complete her Master’s in Strategic Communications from George Washington
University and, except a strong social media presence and occasional
articles in Pakistani media, she has no serious track record as a
According to an earlier article on New-Pakistan, “There used to be a website www.cynthiaritchie.com, which had her biography but it has been disabled since New-Pakistan raised questions about
her qualifications.” Now that website is only password accessible
–hardly how eputable international media consultants operate.
her bio was accessible, Ritchie claimed that she had made “ TV
commercials for AT&T, Political Campaigns, HGTV” but did not explain
what political campaigns she worked on or what she did on HGTV—”an
American basic cable and satellite television channel,” which primarily
broadcasts reality programming related to home improvement and real
is clear that Cynthia Ritchie is, at least, a charlatan, and possibly
an individual who might pose a threat to Pakistan’s national security by
living in Pakistan and embedding herself in Pakistan’s ruling party and
the military officers’ corps.
person with no security clearance and an unexplained past shows up on
stage with known propagandists for Lashkar-e-Taiba and attends parties
with the rich and famous as well as the influential and powerful.
not be surprised when an India-American operation targets Dawood
Ibrahim or Hafiz Saeed the night after Cynthia Ritchie boards her final
flight out of Islamabad.