ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued a stay order against the ‘deportation’ of the US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie and sought report from the interior ministry.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah while issuing stay order on the US blogger’s petition sought a comprehensive report from the interior ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency.

In the petition, Ritchie made the interior secretary, deputy secretary, and director-general Federal Investigation Agency parties to the case, stating that she had fulfilled all the legal obligations required of her — in her visa application — to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan.

Ritchie accused the interior ministry of denying her visa without any solid reason, her petition mentioning that rejecting her visa extension was a violation of the General Clauses Act and the country’s visa policy.

Justice Minallah observed that it is not a valid ground to challenge the denial of visa.

He, however, remarked that since she is facing and pursuing multiple cases in courts, this might be a reason for seeking extension in the visa.

Earlier last week, interior ministry had rejected the visa application of Ms Ritchie asking her to leave Pakistan in 15 days.

The blogger, however, challenged the interior ministry’s decision before the IHC.

On Sept 4, the ministry submitted a report in the IHC stating that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 which was against the law.

It said that the blogger had applied for her work visa extension two times, but she was given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy, adding that her company was not registered in Pakistan either.

The interior ministry also pleaded with the court to stop the American blogger from making controversial statements that go against the basic rights of citizens.

The interior secretary had conceded in the report submitted before the IHC that in the past, Ms Cynthia D Ritchie was granted work visa in violation of the applicable policy/laws.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2020

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