IHC asks ministry to decide on Cynthia Ritchie visa extension by 15th

July 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD : The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday directed the Ministry of Interior to decide upon US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie’s stay in Pakistan and the extension of her visa until July 15 and then inform the court. The IHC was hearing a petition seeking deportation of Cynthia Ritchie as per the law. Chief Justice IHC Athar Minullah conducted the proceedings. The petition is filed by a supporter of Pakistan People’s Party, Iftikhar Ahmed who is seeking Ritchie’s deportation on grounds that her visa has expired. Deputy Attorney General Syed Mohammad Tayyab Shah submitted an interim report on behalf of the federal government, telling the court that the petitioner has not appeared before the Interior Ministry about his plea. To which, Justice Minullah remarked: “This is a sovereign state, we are watching the conduct of the ministry”. He further said that there is no reason for proceedings as “the law should take its own path”. Justice Minullah asked the Interior Ministry to decide upon the plea according to law. The court directed the parties in the case to appear before the ministry on Wednesday at 1:00pm and record their statements. The IHC also urged the ministry to decide upon Ritchie’s stay in Pakistan and the extension of her visa until July 15 and then inform the court. The US blogger, along with her lawyer, also appeared before the court. In an earlier hearing, the court was told that Ritchie’s visa had expired earlier in February and since then she has been staying in Pakistan with an invalid visa. Separately, Ritchie moved the High Court last month, in a bid to stop the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from registering a case against her. The move came after Additional District and Sessions Judge (ASJ) Jahangir Awan had directed the FIA to register a case against Ritchie, who has levelled harassment allegations against the PPP leadership after a public spat with the party. The plea, however, was quashed by the IHC. The court said that it could not interfere in the FIA’s investigations and ordered the agency to continue its probe into the US blogger according to law. In a video broadcast live on Facebook last month, Ritchie had alleged that senior PPP leader Rehman Malik had raped her while two others had “manhandled” her at a separate occasion. She had stated that the incidents occurred in 2011 when the PPP was in power, and when the individual she accused of rape had been a senior minister. Ritchie had further alleged that former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani and a federal minister had “physically manhandled” her when the former was staying at the President House.

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