ISLAMABAD-The Ministry of Interior Friday informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the US citizen Cynthia D Ritchie is not involved in any illegal or anti-state activities.

The Interior Ministry submitted this before a single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Ather Minallah who conducted hearing of a petition filed by an office-bearer of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Ch Iftikhar Ahmad against Cynthia Dawn Ritchi and requested the court to deport the US citizen.

Clearing the US citizen from her involvement in any wrongdoing, the interior ministry submitted a report telling the court that her visa is valid till August 31 as visas of foreigners were extended till that said date due to pandemic. The report said that Richie had also filed a separate application for an extension of her visa. The decision on the application would be made after August 31 in accordance with the law.

The reply submitted by the ministry stated, “Since the validity of business visa of Cynthia D Ritchie has been extended till 31-08-2020 by virtue of general visa extension given to all foreigners in Pakistan due COVID-19 situation, while her application for extension of visa was received in MoI and is under process, there is no violation or illegality on the part of respondent to stay in Pakistan till 31-08-2020.”

It added, “Her application for visa extension beyond 31-08-2020 will be decided after receipt of requisite input/ clearance from the concerned stakeholders in accordance with visa policy. Since this ministry has not received any adverse report on the activities of the respondent on social media as alleged by the petitioner, no action is required by MoI at this stage. However, the Respondent is required to strictly comply with the laws of Pakistan while staying and doing business in Pakistan.”

Then, the IHC bench directed the ministry to provide a copy of the decision to the parties and deferred the hearing till July 24 for further proceedings.

The petitioner 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. 

The petitioner asserted before the court that Cynthia is a foreign national and is 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 has expired in the month of March owing to which her stay in Pakistan has become illegal.

Talking to the journalists after hearing, Sardar Latif Khosa Advocate leader of PPP and counsel for the petitioner said that he was not satisfied with the document presented by the ministry.

He alleged that the ministry had tried to mislead the court and the interior secretary was not taking action according to law. Khosa asserted that they would prove that the visa is incorrect and that she is involved in anti-state activities.