ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed Secretary Interior to hear the US citizen Cynthia Dawn Ritchie’s visa issue and pass a speaking order in this matter.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by an office-bearer of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Ch Iftikhar Ahmad against Cynthia Dawn Ritchie and deferred the hearing till July 10 after issuing the aforementioned directions.

During the hearing, Ali Asghar Joint Secretary Ministry of Interior appeared before the court while Sardar Latif Khosa Advocate represented the petitioner. However, the joint secretary could not properly assist the court regarding the relevant law, rules and regulations applicable in case of different categories of visas.

He stated before the court that the visa of the respondent No 1 (Cynthia) had expired in March and that she has applied for extension. He further informed that the respondent had entered Pakistan on the basis of a Business visa.

After hearing, the IHC bench noted in its order that it would be appropriate not to make any observation lest it may prejudice the case of either of the parties.

Justice Athar stated in the order, “The Secretary, Ministry of Interior is, therefore, directed to afford an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner and respondent no.1 and thereafter pass a speaking order.

He added, “This Court expects that the Secretary, Ministry of Interior will pass a speaking order before the date fixed and a copy shall be placed on the record of this Court. The petitioner shall be at liberty to file his grievance petition before the Secretary, Ministry of Interior on or before 06- 07-2020.”

Later, the court adjourned hearing in this matter till July 10 for further proceedings.

The petitioner asserted before the court that Cynthia is a foreign national and staying in Pakistan without a valid visa. He added that her visa had expired and yet respondents are not proceeding against her in accordance with law.

His counsel contended that she is not a registered voter and yet has been allowed and facilitated to interfere and comment on political matters. He argued that she is being facilitated to tarnish the image of the country by bringing political leadership into disrepute through false and concocted statements/allegations.

He also argued that activities of the Cynthia are in violation of the terms and conditions of the visa which was earlier granted to her while the respondents are refusing to act in accordance with law.

In his petition, Iftikhar cited Cynthia, Secretary Cabinet Division, Secretary Interior, Director General (DG) Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Chairman Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan as respondents.

Iftikhar who is secretary general of PPP Rawalpindi city moved the court through his counsels Ch Furrukh Isamil and Ch Tanveer Akhtar saying that as per his knowledge the visa of Cynthia expired in March owing to which her stay in Pakistan became illegal.

He added that she should have left the country or should have been deported by the respondents but they have failed to perform their duties which they were obliged to perform under the law which necessitated filing the petition.

The petitioner also adopted that Cynthia is claiming through media that she is indulging into certain kinds of investigations in Pakistan but to the knowledge and information of the petitioner, no such license has been issued to her by the government of Pakistan to carry out any kind of investigations.

He claimed that Cynthia “who is an alien, has been able to make an access to the sensitive institutions of the country. It is known that she is involved in anti-state activities and her such acts of omissions and commissions may prove detrimental and fatal to the country.”

He maintained that if she is carrying on with any business then she should be registered with SECP and if not then how she is doing the business in Pakistan. “She has also not disclosed her source of income and the details of income tax, if any paid by her. All these things/ information are necessary to be disclosed in the public interest,” added the petitioner.

He continued that she is also levelling defamatory allegations against a deceased leader and former prime minister of the country and thus scandalising the reputation of country at international level, the process of investigation is already pending before the FIA, hence her activity may be restrained as per law.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to direct the respondents to deport Cynthia as her visa has expired and not extended till date. He also requested the court that the activity of Cynthia may be restrained within the limit prescribed by law for immigrants.