IHC issues stay order on Interior Ministry’s decision

Cynthia Ritchie had challenged interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days in the IHC on Saturday. Photo: File

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 the blogger.

Ritchie had petitioned the IHC on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days.

In the petition, the US national has nominated the interior secretary, deputy secretary and the director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as respondents to the case.

She has argued that she fulfilled all legal obligations required of her in her visa application to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan, yet was turned down without explanation.

After hearing her arguments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie and issued notices to the home ministry, the DG 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.

The ministry, in an earlier response to the IHC, had stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 against the law.

It had mentioned that the blogger had applied for an extension in her work visa twice, but was instead given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy even though her company was not registered in Pakistan.

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IHC stays interior ministry’s deportation orders for Cynthia Ritchie

IHC CJ Justice Athar Minallah has also sought replies from Home Ministry, DG Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and other parties on Cynthia’s case 

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday stayed an Interior Ministry decision to turn down a visa extension application filed by US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie.

Ritchie had petitioned the IHC on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days.

In the petition, the US national has nominated the interior secretary, deputy secretary and the director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as respondents to the case. 

She has argued that she fulfilled all legal obligations required of her in her visa application to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan, yet was turned down without explanation.

After hearing her arguments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie and issued notices to the home ministry, the DG 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.

Read more: Cynthia moves IHC against interior ministry’s decision to reject visa extension

The ministry, in an earlier response to the IHC, had stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 against the law.

It had mentioned that the blogger had applied for an extension in her work visa twice, but was instead given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy even though her company was not registered in Pakistan.

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Cynthia moves IHC against interior ministry’s decision to reject visa extension

In its response to the IHC a day ago, the ministry stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 which was against the law — File photo

US Blogger Cynthia D Ritchie has submitted a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her a visa extension.

In the petition, Ritchie made the interior secretary, deputy secretary, and director-general Federal Investigation Agency parties to the case, stating that she had fulfilled all the legal obligations required of her — in her visa application — to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan.

Ritchie accused the interior ministry of denying her visa without any solid reason, her petition mentioning that rejecting her visa extension was a violation of the General Clauses Act and the country’s visa policy.

Interior ministry asks Cynthia Ritchie to leave Pakistan within 15 days

Earlier this week, the ministry had rejected Ritchie’s visa extension application and asked her to exit the country within 15 days.

In its response to the IHC a day ago, 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 on Friday had 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.

The response came after the IHC expressed displeasure over the ministry’s comments at the previous hearing, instructing it to provide relevant records of its business visa policy. 

Ritchie accuses PPP leadership of ‘harassment’ and ‘manhandling’

In a video broadcast live on Facebook in May, Ritchie had alleged that a senior PPP leader had raped her while two others had ‘manhandled’ her at a separate occasion.

She had stated that the incidents occurred in 2011 during the PPP tenure, when the individual she accused of rape had been a senior minister.

Ritchie had further alleged that two other senior party leaders — a federal minister and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani (who publicly responded to the allegation) — had “physically manhandled” her when the latter “was staying the President House”.

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