The Islamabad High Court has stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting American blogger Cynthia D Richie.
During a hearing on Monday, the court issued notices to the Interior Ministry and other respondents in the case. Richie has been directed to submit her statement.
The Interior Ministry had on September 2 rejected Richie’s request for a visa extension and told her to leave the country within 15 days or face deportation.
She filed a petition challenging the decision in the Islamabad High Court. During the hearing, her lawyer argued that the ministry never gave any reasons for rejecting her visa application.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah noted that it is not necessary to mention why a visa was rejected. When Pakistanis’ visas are rejected, no reason is given, he said. “We will make sure the petitioner gets complete justice.”
The respondents in the case—the Interior Ministry, FIA DG and others—have been directed to submit replies.
Ritchie, who identifies as a media director and producer, has accused Rehman Malik of raping her and Makhdoom Shahabuddin of manhandling her in 2011. The accusation has been denied by the PPP leaders.
“In 2011, I was raped by the former interior minister Rehman Malik. That’s right. I’ll say it again. I was raped by then interior minister Rehman Malik,” she had said in a Facebook Live session.
“I was physically manhandled by [former] federal health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and PM Yousaf Gilani while he was staying at President House.”
Later, she wrote in a post that the “incident” occurred at the “IM’s house in ministers’ enclave in 2011” around the time of Osama Bin Laden’s assassination. “I thought it was a meeting about my visa but I was given flowers/ a drugged drink. I kept quiet.” She claimed that her family was recently attacked and she is “ready to face any accuser” now.
On May 29, multiple PPP workers had filed complaints against Ritchie on May 29. A letter was written to the FIA’s Islamabad office by PPP District President Advocate Shakeel Abbasi, urging the agency to take action against Ritchie. The letter, dated May 28, 2020, called the blogger’s remarks “extremely derogatory and slanderous”.