The Interior Ministry has ordered American blogger Cynthia Ritchie to leave Pakistan within 15 days after rejecting her request for an extension in her visa, reported on Wednesday.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had also urged the Ministry to decide upon Ms. Ritchie’s stay in Pakistan and the extension of her visa.
In an earlier hearing, the court was told that her visa had expired on August 31. The Interior Ministry submitted a written report before the Islamabad High Court on a petition moved by a lawyer who belonged to PPP, seeking directives to deport the American blogger.
— Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) September 2, 2020
IHC sought interior ministry to explain business visa policy
The IHC on Tuesday, asked the interior ministry about the business visa policy and gave one last chance to the ministry to satisfy the court in the case of the deportation of American blogger, Cynthia D Ritchie.
Ms. Ritchie was restrained form speaking out against political figures of Pakistan. Her lawyer, Mr. Imran Feroze, assured the court that no such statements would be made by the blogger.
The order previously issued by the secretary interior was a confession of issuing work visa to Ms Ritchie, against the law. This order was brought up by Chief Justice Athat Minallah, who said the same had raised serious questions.
Interior ministry had decided not to deport US citizen Cynthia Ritchie. Interior ministry reversed this decision on PPP application seeking to deport US Blogger.
The MoI -under pressure best known to them- has for the first time, in my over 10+ years in Pakistan, rejected my Visa application. No reason has been given. We have a right to file an appeal & will do so. A higher forum must entertain my application & upon merits grant visa.
— Cynthia D. Ritchie (@CynthiaDRitchie) September 2, 2020
Earlier decision of the Interior Ministry regarding Cynthia Ritchie case
On 17th July, the Interior ministry said in its decision, according to security agencies report, that Cynthia had not been found involved in illegal and anti-state activities.
The interior ministry then gave a clean chit to US blogger Cynthia Ritchie. However, it is after the IHC directed the interior ministry to provide a copy of the decision, and after the hearing, that the ministry reverted its decision.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah during the hearing on Tuesday expressed displeasure with the Interior Ministry’s decision. Expressing dissatisfaction with the representative of interior ministry, the bench asked on what basis had the ministry made its decision.
`Is there any law or policy?’, The chief justice asked. He questioned whether the ministry had any documents which explained the visa policy for foreigners.
The court remarked that if someone were to come tomorrow on a business visa and give a statement against prime minister, would they be treated in the same way – with such lax attitude?
The Chief Justice of IHC stressed that the laws and policies must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner, the interior ministry however, had disregarded this fact in the matter at hand in its earlier decision.
During the hearing, the ministry’s representative was asked what would have happened if someone like Ritchie made a political statement against the prime minister or any other institution.
The ministry representative was unable to answer how the petitioner’s case was different. The chief justice said that if the appointed representative of the ministry failed to satisfy the court at the next hearing, the interior secretary would be summoned.
Cynthia Ritchie’s tweets: PPP seeks ISI’s help
It may be mentioned that Cynthia Ritchie had made several tweets against PPP leadership including Benazir Bhutto.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had approached Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)’s chief Lt. General Faiz Hameed to deport US blogger Cynthia Ritchie for giving defamatory remarks against the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on Twitter.
It was reported that PPP leader Sehar Kamran urged the intelligence agency to take immediate notice of the activities of Cynthia D Ritchie, and initiation of a process for her immediate deportation from Pakistan, as well as declaring her a persona non grata.
In her letter to ISI chief, Sehar Kamran said: “Ms. Ritchie has been playing an incendiary role, with what appears to be the aim of inflaming public sentiment, provoking widespread anger and offense among a significant portion of the population, as well as the millions of Pakistanis both at home and abroad who follow, love and respect Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.”
She said that the blogger’s derogatory and libellous comments are becoming increasingly offensive and dangerous, ranging from her outrageously false allegations against a “globally respected, twice elected democratic leader – and the first female Prime Minister within the Muslim world – to maligning one of the largest political parties in the country by insinuating its connections with anti-state entitle.”
Rehman Malik challenged US blogger Cynthia with Rs 500m defamation case
Earlier, PPP leader Rehman Malik filed a Rs 500 million defamation case against US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie. He called her allegations “false, frivolous and baseless”. He has filed his case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Moreover, a notice was sent to the US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie to rescind her accusation and issue an unqualified apology. Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik denied the rape allegations of American blogger Cynthia D Ritchie. He called the accusation ‘wild’ and ‘baseless’.
After categorically denying the accusations, Rehman Malik filed a defamation case the US blogger.
“Senator A. Rehman Malik has endorsed the statement of former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani wherein he has denied the allegations levelled by US Citizen Cynthia D. Ritchie,” said a statement released by the PPP leader’s spokesperson.
Rehman Malik said that these allegations are intended to malign and scandalize him with malafide intentions. Even former PM Yousuf Raza Gillani denied the allegations of Cynthia D Ritchie.