Islamabad: A petition has been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking the deportation of US blogger and journalist Cynthia Ritchie on the basis that she has overstayed in Pakistan and her visa expired in March this year.
Besides, the petition says she has tarnished the country’s image at the international front by leveling baseless allegations against former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
The court has fixed June 26 as the date of the hearing of the petition.
Ritchie earlier this month had alleged she was raped and molested by former Interior Minister and leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Rehman Malik, ex-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and ex-health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin in 2011 when the PPP was in power.
They have firmly dismissed her allegations threatening to take her to court for the ‘baseless’ charges. Malik whom she has accused of rape has even sent her through his lawyer a defamation notice.
Call for probe into molestation charges
However, Ritchie unperturbed by their threats and court notices, posted a number of pictures on twitter showing the above-mentioned PPP leaders in close proximity. Ritchie’s allegations created a stir in the PPP ranks and also generated a debate on social media that her allegations should be thoroughly probed. Voices were raised for and against her.
Tweets against Benazir
Even before these charges, she made the headlines by posting some controversial tweets about the PPP late leader former PM and mother of the party’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto, late Benazir Bhutto.
For those tweets, PPP Islamabad President Shakeel Abbasi got a local court issued directions for the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and police to probe her and she is facing an inquiry by the FIA cyber crime wing.
In the latest petition, the petitioner Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed has maintained that Ritchie’s visa expired in March 2020 and that her current stay in Pakistan is illegal.
The petitioner prayed that the court issued directives to deport her and to her movement be restricted till then or till her deportation or renewal of her visa.
Unclear source of income
The petitioner has also raised questions on her source of income. The US blogger has not disclosed any source of income, and if she is indeed engaged in any business activity, it should be registered with the SECP, states the petition.
The petitioner further adds that she leveled baseless allegations against Bhutto and brought a bad name to Pakistan and its leadership.
Petition is nothing but child’s play
While talking to Gulf News, Ritchie said she wasn’t bothered about such pressure tactics and they would not weaken her resolve. “Regarding Pakistan’s image, my work record over the years, including film and writings, speaks for itself. The rest is nothing but elementary school politics.”
About her visa expiry issue, she said renewal of visa was under process and the Interior Ministry had already granted all the foreigners visa extension until end of August, due to circumstances involving coronavirus.
Still to hear from #MeToo advocates
When asked if she received any message of solidarity from women rights NGOs or advocates of #MeToo, she said oddly, very few such messages were received. “However, the public response on social media is overwhelming and they are calling for thorough investigation,” she said adding “I’m going to do a poll on my Twitter about women’s rights orgs very soon.”