IHC stays ministry’s decision in Ritchie visa rejection case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued a stay order on US national Cynthia D Ritchie’s plea against the Interior Ministry’s decision to turn down a visa extension for her.
The IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie and issued notices to the ministry, director general (DG) Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and others. The court also ordered the blogger to submit an affidavit detailing her allegations in the document.
“Visas of Pakistanis are denied every day and no reason is provided,” Justice Minallah remarked. He assured that the petitioner gets complete justice in the case.
Earlier, challenging the Interior Ministry’s decision to deny her a visa extension, the US Blogger Cynthia D Ritchie on Saturday last submitted a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Ritchie made the interior secretary, deputy secretary, and director-general Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) parties in the petition, stating that she had fulfilled all the legal obligations in her visa application to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan.
Ritchie accused the Interior Ministry of denying her visa without any solid reason. She said that rejecting her visa extension is a violation of the General Clauses Act and the country’s visa policy.
On Friday last, in its response to the IHC, the ministry stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 which was against the law. It mentioned that the blogger had applied for her work visa extension two times, but she was given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy, adding that her company was not registered in Pakistan either.
The interior ministry also submitted its comments to the High court in Cynthia D Ritchie’s case, stating that the American blogger should be stopped from making controversial statements that go against the basic rights of citizens.
Earlier on Wednesday last, the Ministry of Interior rejected the application of US National Cynthia Dawn Ritchi for extension in visa and directed her to leave Pakistan within fifteen days.
The ministry had been directed by Islamabad High Court (IHC) to take a decision on the matter after it was informed that the American blogger’s visa had expired on August 31. Last month, IHC had given three months to the ministry for deciding the deportation of Ritchie.
In a video broadcast live on Facebook in May, Ritchie had alleged that PPP leader and then Interior Minister Rehman Malik had raped her while former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and a federal minister had ‘manhandled’ her at a separate occasion. She had stated that the incidents occurred in 2011 during the PPP tenure. – TLTP

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