Interior Ministry Admits Cynthia Ritchie Was Twice Issued Visa In Violation Of Policy
Two days after it asked US citizen Cynthia Ritchie to leave Pakistan within 15 days, the Ministry of Interior has admitted that the US blogger was issued a business visa twice — in 2018 and 2019– in violation of visa policies and legal requirements.
According to journalist Zahid Gishkori, Cynthia’s visa was extended even though she failed to submit supporting documents to qualify for such an extension under the business category.
On Sept 2, the interior ministry asked Cynthia D Ritchie to leave Pakistan within 15 days while rejecting her request for an extension in her stay. The ministry had decided on the issue after it was told by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to decide on the plea filed by Cynthia seeking an extension in her visa.\
Pakistani authorities admitted that American blogger @CynthiaDRitchie was issued business visa in violation of policy twice in 2018 & 2019. Supporting documents (submitted by her) qualifying as legal requirement for issuance of extension under business category were not met. pic.twitter.com/EdqR32OjNk
— Zahid Gishkori (@ZahidGishkori) September 3, 2020
However, Cynthia didn’t take the decision lightly. She had said the ministry decided against her ‘under pressure best known to them’. She had said she would file an appeal against the decision and demanded that ‘a higher forum must entertain my application’ and grants her ‘visa upon merit’.
On July 17, the Ministry of Interior gave US blogger Cynthia Ritchie a clean chit over the complaints filed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) against her. The ministry also decided not to deport the blogger from Pakistan and allowed her to stay in the country till August 31.
Working With ISPR?
Though the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief Major Gen Babar Iftikhar reportedly denied his department’s involvement with Cynthia, the US filmmaker has claimed multiple times that she was working on film projects with the ISPR and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
Despite @OfficialDGISPR categorical denial @CynthiaDRitchie writes in her visa renewal application that she’s working with ISPR and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on various projects pic.twitter.com/DUyLyCdFfe
— Mubashir Zaidi (@Xadeejournalist) June 25, 2020
In his visa renewal application, she had claimed to be working with ISPR and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on various projects.
On July 18, the Ministry of Interior also informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that US blogger Cynthia was living in Pakistan on an ‘extended’ visa and she was working on film projects in collaboration with the military’s media affairs wing and KP government.
“She also attached a letter no. 01/IAAD/2018 dated 27.12.2018 from ISPR stating that Walkabout Films Private Limited is undertaking various projects in collaboration with ISPR and she is working with Walkabout Films on some projects,” the report submitted to the court said.
On June 5, the blogger stirred a storm in the national mainstream by accusing the then Interior Minister, PPP’s Rehman Malik of raping her. In a live video on her Facebook page, she had also accused former minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and ex-premier Yousuf Raza Gilani of manhandling her.
Prior to that, on May 28, Ritchie posted remarks against the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, termed by the PPP as ‘derogatory and slanderous’.
She is also facing a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inquiry for making defamatory remarks against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on social media.
Moreover, a criminal case was also registered against Cynthia for allegedly violating banking rules by providing ‘forged documents’ and ‘fake information’ to open her account in a branch of HBL in Islamabad.