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Cynthia Ritchie given 15 days to leave Pakistan


The Ministry of Interior on Wednesday rejected US blogger Cynthia Dawn Ritchie’s visa extension request, ordering her to leave Pakistan within 15 days.

A day earlier (on Tuesday), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had asked about the business visa policy and gave one last chance to the interior ministry to satisfy the court in the case of the American blogger.

During a hearing of the case, the court restrained the blogger from speaking out against political figures of the country and her lawyer, Imran Feroze, assured the court of not making any statements.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah said in his written order that the order issued by the interior secretary was a confession of issuing work visa to Ritchie against the law. The interior secretary’s decision raised serious questions, the chief justice said.

He added that either the interior ministry was unaware of the visa policy or it had ignored it in the recent case. Laws and policies must be applied in all cases in a non-discriminatory and transparent manner, the chief justice stressed.

The recent decision of the interior secretary contradicted the previous decision. The interior secretary relied solely on Rtichie’s statement and did not cite any law. The interior ministry could not answer the court’s questions about the secretary’s decision, he noted.

During the hearing, the ministry’s representative was asked what would have happened if Rtichie made a political statement against the prime minister or any other institution. The ministry representative said that those would be detained and deported.

However, the ministry representative was unable to answer how the petitioner’s case was different. The chief justice said that if the appointed representative of the ministry failed to satisfy the court at the next hearing, the interior secretary would be summoned.

The US blogger has been engaged in separate cases pertaining to defaming slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and accusing former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of physically manhandling her, and Senator Rehman Malik of raping her in 2011. 

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