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Cynthia Ritchie to stay in Pakistan till next hearing: court

Extension in stay against possible deportation till Oct 13

Reporting | - Posted: Sep 22, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Sep 22, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Cynthia Ritchie to stay in Pakistan till next hearing: court

The Islamabad High Court extended its stay order against the possible deportation of US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie till the next hearing on October 13.

Two weeks ago, the IHC had stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie.

The Interior Ministry had on September 2 rejected Ritchie’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 IHC. During the hearing, her lawyer argued that the ministry never gave any reasons for rejecting her visa application. 

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had 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.”

On Tuesday’s hearing, Justice Athar Minallah said it is the interior ministry’s job to investigate this case.

The IHC chief justice questioned whether the government is willing to hold a transparent investigation against Ritchie’s allegations or not.

Ritchie, who identifies as a media director and producer, has accused former Malik of raping her and Makhdoom Shahabuddin of manhandling her in 2011. The accusation has been denied by the PPP leaders. 

Ritchie’s counsel said two hearings have been held, but Malik has not appeared in court.

“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”.

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