ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has rejected visa extension application of US blogger Cynthia Ritchie and asked her to leave the country in 15 days.

An official said that the Interior Ministry rejected Ritchie’s application and asked her to leave the country within 15 days.

The development came after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on July 10 expressed dissatisfaction over the Ministry of Interior’s order related to the validity of Ritchie’s visa and gave the government a final opportunity to render proper assistance.

The IHC had sought an explanation from the Interior Ministry about the status and terms and conditions of the visa issued to Ritchie.

The reply submitted by the ministry before the IHC stated, “Since the validity of business visa of Ms Cynthia D Ritchie has been extended till 31-08-2020 by virtue of general visa extension given to all foreigners in Pakistan due to 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.” Ritchie accused the PPP leadership of “harassment” and “manhandling” in a video broadcast live on Facebook in May. Ritchie had alleged that senior PPP leader Rehman Malik had raped her, while two others had "manhandled" her on a separate occasion.

She had stated that the incidents occurred in 2011, when the PPP was in power.