Senator Rehman Malik, through his lawyer, has sent a legal notice to Islamabad-based American blogger Cynthia Ritchie, it emerged on Sunday, asking for an "unqualified public apology" and withdrawal of rape allegations within 15 days.
Ritchie, who was at the centre of a controversy last week when she tweeted what the PPP described as "derogatory and slanderous remarks" about slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has accused Malik of raping her in Islamabad in 2011.
In a live video on her Facebook page on Friday, she also accused former federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of "physically manhandling" her while Gilani was staying at the "President's House" — a charge denied by both the senior PPP leaders.
The notice, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, acknowledges that Malik — a former interior minister and senior PPP leader — met Ritchie in his office in Ministry of Interior in the presence of Azam Swati's daughter regarding a visa issue. "Any other meeting regarding your visa with [Malik] is out of the question," it says.
Referring to Ritchie's tweet regarding Benazir Bhutto, it says Malik "noticed all of a sudden you emerged on [the] social media scene and began a smearing campaign" against the late prime minister, adding that subsequent action was taken by PPP leaders.
The notice also mentions a tweet by Ritchie on June 2 in which she had accused Malik of illegally issuing a Pakistan Origin Card to a foreigner, adding that the claim was "strongly rebutted" by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
"Since you failed in your accusation, you started his character assassination by levelling bogus and disparaging allegations on June 5 through your Twitter and Facebook accounts," the notice says of the rape allegation.
Due to the "false, frivolous and baseless allegation", the reputation of Malik has "adversely suffered at the national and international level", it says.
Malik, through the notice, has demanded from Ritchie Rs500 million in damages, a "prompt" withdrawal of the allegations "in the same manner in which it was released and posted on social, print and electronic media" within 15 days of receiving the notice, as well as an "unqualified apology".
In case of non-adherence, Malik will initiate civil and criminal proceedings against Ritchie, says the notice.
Dawn.com has reached out to Ritchie for her comment.
Ritchie, after coming forward with the accusations, has said that she will also initiate legal proceedings against Malik.
In a tweet earlier today, she said "this week will involve criminal proceedings, finally, against PPP, Rehman Malik, et alia. US Embassy in Islamabad has been informed, of course, and I anticipate meetings to follow through with these matters".
In a statement on Saturday, Gilani had announced that he would be filing a defamation case against Ritchie, saying that she had "violated" his "respect by making such unfounded allegations".