Cynthia Ritchie, one of a handful of ‘Gora Pakistanis’ is once again in the news.
In May 2020, Ritchie created a storm with an abusive tweet about former Prime Minister, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The social media controversy that began with these allegations by Ritchie turned murkier after she lobbed rape accusations against former interior minister Rehman Malik and asserted that she had been “investigating” the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).
Ritchie is one of several self-styled ‘Gora Pakistanis’ who praise Pakistan on social media while enjoying Pakistani hospitality though she goes farther than most in supporting the current ruling party (PTI), abusing its opponents, defending the Pakistan army, and attacking its critics. here have been rumors that ‘Cynthia Baji,’ as she is known to her supporters, or ‘Ritchie, the Bitchie,’ as she has been nicknamed by those she routinely abuses and attacks, enjoys the support of ISPR or other powerful quarters in the country. Cynthia herself brags about he connections to the security establishment in her social media posts.
During the recent court hearings on her visa, the court “restrained the blogger from speaking out against political figures of the country and her lawyer, Imran Feroze, assured the court of not making any statements. Chief Justice Athar Minallah said in his written order that the order issued by the interior secretary was a confession of issuing work visa to Ritchie against the law. The interior secretary’s decision raised serious questions, the chief justice said. He added that either the interior ministry was unaware of the visa policy or it had ignored it in the recent case. Laws and policies must be applied in all cases in a non-discriminatory and transparent manner, the chief justice stressed.”
Further, according to the Chief Justice’s remarks at the hearing, “The recent decision of the interior secretary contradicted the previous decision. The interior secretary relied solely on Richie’s statement and did not cite any law. The interior ministry could not answer the court’s questions about the secretary’s decision. During the hearing, the ministry’s representative was asked what would have happened if Richie made a political statement against the prime minister or any other institution. The ministry representative said that those would be detained and deported. However, the ministry representative was unable to answer how the petitioner’s case was different. The chief justice said that if the appointed representative of the ministry failed to satisfy the court at the next hearing, the interior secretary would be summoned.”
Finally, the Chief Justice “expressed his displeasure that the interior ministry had not issued a clear order regarding the plea for the deportation of Richie, and asked as to what was the ministry’s policy. No-one cared, if anyone came from abroad and did anything here, he said. The deputy attorney general informed the court that Richie had stated in a statement before the interior ministry that she was not affiliated with any government agency in Pakistan. However, the chief justice remarked that it had been stated earlier that she was working with the ISPR and the K-P government.”
In the end, the court questioned whether there would be the same policy if Richie gave the statements against the present government. “If someone else comes tomorrow on a business visa and gives the statements” against the prime minister, would that person be treated in same way.