“Foreign Minister, your scarf has slipped off your head”

On her show aired yesterday on CNN, Christiane Amanpour suddenly stopped in the midddle of posing hard hitting questions to the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, and informed her that her scarf had slipped off.

Yes, you heard me right: sandwiched in between questions about Osama Bin Laden and Pakistan’s relations with India, Amanpour found it perfectly natural to make this interjection.

Here is the relevant section from the transcript of that interview:

AMANPOUR: I just want to let you know that your scarf has slipped off your head. If you — if you care, you can put it back on right now. Otherwise, I can continue.

KHAR: Sure. Please continue.

AMANPOUR: OK. Perfect.

I was so shocked and enraged at this inappropriate and impertinent interruption that I found it hard to focus on the interview from then on. I have to wonder as to what was going on in Amanpour’s head when she said this.

– Did she think the Foreign Minister was sinning and perhaps she wanted to set a believer straight?

– Was she just being courteous to her guest, along the lines of “hey chica, just to let you know you’re flashing some cleavage there. Better fix it!”.

– Or was she scared for her guest’s life thinking some mullah in Pakistan will kill Khar for *gasp* showing off her hair?

You expect more awareness from a seasoned journalist like Amanpour. Or perhaps she was trying to be a bit too culturally aware. But anyone who has seen any pictures of Hina Rabbani Khar knows that she wears her scarf symbolically as part of her political persona (I don’t have any issues with that). Sometimes it does slip off and she fixes it without being too bothered by it. No one has ever thought it was such an issue before. And even if it weren’t symbolic and it, horror of horrors, briefly slipped off- why make such a fuss about it?

Would Amanpour have stopped the Ugandan President (who was the guest before Khar) to inform him if, let’s say, his spectacles had slipped off his nose? “Mr. President, I want to let you know that your glasses have slipped off your nose. If you care, you can put them back on right now. Otherwise, I can continue.”

President: Of course Christiane! Thank you for letting me know. How else could I  have answered such important questions about foreign policy if my glasses had not been securely fixed to my nose!

I have to give it to Hina Rabbani Khar though. For the briefest second she seemed confused or amused by this interruption, but after fixing her scarf, she continued to answer questions with a lot of poise and presence of mind.