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Plagiarism: Mona Sarika's Short, Disgraced Career

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The scandal surrounding the writer Mona Sarika continues to unfold after the Wall Street Journal removed an article titled "New Global Indian" that she wrote for its online column.

The WSJ's apology said that the article by "Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarized from several publications.......Ms. Sarika also re-used direct quotes from other publications, without attribution, and changed the original speakers' names to individuals who appear to be fabricated. The column is the only work by Ms. Sarika to be published by the Journal, and it has been removed from the Journal's Web sites."

Ms Sarika has form. After checking several columns she had written for the esteemed Foreign Policy magazine, Huffington Post sent the FP editors an email, asking about one article called "Pakistan's Coming Horror".

The email sent to Foreign Policy reads -

I note that a Foreign Policy published an article on October 30, 2009 by Ms Sarika titled "Pakistan's Coming Horror".

On checking this article it appears that Ms Sarika may have fabricated a person, and also plagiarized a 'quote' from another source.

In the article, Ms Sarika writes

"When people leave their homes in the morning they fear for their lives," Taj Javed, a freelance journalist, told me. "People are very scared and you can easily see it; there are fewer people on the streets. When I see security forces, I feel there will be soon another attack. We are sick and tired of the attacks."

This is very similar to the following quote from a blog on BBC News article titled "Pakistanis reflect on army offensive" published online on 17 October. The entry was from Basma Khan, from Lahore.

"I support the army action - something must be done to stop the militants. The lack of security is affecting all of us in Lahore. When people leave their homes in the morning they fear for their lives. There are so many security forces here in Lahore that I actually feel more unsafe now. It makes me think there will be another attack soon. Everyday I have my ID checked or my car stopped. I see police and armed security forces everywhere. It is sad that the image of Pakistan has become so tarnished by the terrorists. They are distorting the image of our country and of Islam. The militants recruit young and innocent people who do not have exposure to the cities or the outside world. But most people in this country just want peace. We are sick and tired of the attacks. I hope that actions will speak louder than words, and people will see that the army is doing all it can do to crush these militants. I hope the world will see that it is the Pakistani people who are the most threatened by these terrorists."

Foreign Policy magazine have now removed the article for the site and have replaced it with this statement :

In her Oct. 30, 2009 article for ForeignPolicy.com, "Pakistan's Coming Horror," freelance writer Mona Sarika plagiarized and misattributed quotes from these sources ...... on the BBC's Web site and, we believe, may have fabricated her interview subjects. We have pulled the article and will not run work by Ms. Sarika again. We apologize to our readers. --Foreign Policy

The Huffington Post had previously been a victim of Ms Sarika's style of journalism. On June 24 it published an article titled "Uncertainty Among Sri Lankan After the War." One of the people 'quoted' in the article, Indi Samarajiva who later complained about the article. Read more here.

Huffington Post has now placed a notice on Sarika Mona's bio-line that reads

Editor's Note: Due to repeated instances of plagiarism and misattribution, both on HuffPost and elsewhere, Mona Sarika's work will no longer appear on The Huffington Post.

Mario Ruiz, Vice President of Huffington Post Media relations, responded to questions via email.

"Once we establish that a story or blog post has been plagiarized, we remove the story from our site and revoke the plagiarist's right to ever post on The Huffington Post again. We also remove all other posts by that blogger and add a note as to why we've done so."

"This has actually been a very rare occurrence over the four-and-a-half years we've been publishing," he said. " Our policy on any factual inaccuracy (not just plagiarism) is that any time the factual accuracy of a post is called into question, a blogger has 24 hours to either back up their facts or correct the error. If they don't, their blogging privileges will be revoked."