The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered a US blogger Cynthia Ritchie on Tuesday not to leave the country until the next hearing of a case accusing her of staying in the country without a valid visa.
Earlier this month, the court overruled a Ministry of Interior decision to deport Cynthia Ritchie following the rejection of her application for the visa extension. The US blogger subsequently challenged the decision in the high court in Islamabad, claiming the ministry rejected her application “under pressure”.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Tayyab Shah reportedly represented the federal government, the court directed the ministry to provide records of foreigners deported from the country so far. Ritchie’s counsel told the court she was not involved in any illegal activity during her stay in Pakistan.
After hearing the arguments, the court ordered the blogger will stay in Pakistan till the next hearing. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah also questioned the procedure followed for awarding of business visas and requirements sought in this regard.
“How many people the interior ministry has deported so far over the violation of visa?” remarked the judge, adding that there was a need to investigate the allegations of contempt of slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto against Ritchie.
The judge was surprised if the government had any willingness to carry a transparent investigation into the allegations, observing the accusation were in fact serious and merit a probe. Later on, the chief justice of Islamabad high court adjourned the hearing till 13 October.
It is worth mentioning that Cynthia was also involved in a defamation case where she accused Rahman Malik the former Minister for Interior from Pakistan People’s Party for alleged harassment.