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Friday Jun 05 2020
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Blogger Cynthia Ritchie accuses senior PPP leaders of rape, sexual assault

American blogger Cynthia Dawn Ritchie, who is currently based in Pakistan, made startling allegations against senior PPP leaders in a Facebook live video while addressing cyber harassment targeted at her. Photo: Still from video.

An ongoing social media spat between Cynthia D. Ritchie, an American blogger based in Pakistan, and various PPP leaders took a dark turn on Friday after Ritchie took to Facebook to level several serious allegations against the party's senior leadership.

In a video broadcast live on Facebook, Ritchie alleged that one of the party's senior members had raped her while two others had "manhandled" her at a separate occasion.

She stated that the incidents occurred in 2011 when the PPP was in power, and when the individual she accused of rape had been a senior minister. Geo News has attempted to reach out to the accused for comment but received no response so far.

Ritchie further alleged that two other senior party leaders — a federal minister and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani (who has publicly responded to the allegation) — had "physically manhandled" her when the latter "was staying the President House".

In a subsequent textual post on Facebook, Ritchie said that the alleged rape incident had occurred at the accused's residence in Islamabad's Minister's Enclave in 2011, "around the [time of the] OBL (Osama Bin Laden) incident".

"I thought it was a meeting about my visa but I was given flowers [and] a drugged drink," she claimed, adding that she had "kept quiet" about the incident because "who in the [ruling government] would help me against the [accused minister]?"

However, she said she did tell someone about the incident at the US Embassy in 2011, but "due to 'fluid' situation and 'complex' relations" between Washington and Islamabad, she said the response "was less than adequate".

Gillani responds

Responding to the allegations against him, former premier Gillani asked: "Can a prime minister ever commit such an act at the Aiwan-e-Sadr?"

"What was the lady levelling such accusations doing at the Aiwan-e-Sadr?" he continued, adding: "Who gave her the right to accuse politicians like this?"

He said responding to such statements would be "disgraceful".

Gillani said that he may have gone to the Aiwan-e-Sadr to meet the president or a delegation.

The former prime minister said that Ritchie "should be ashamed of herself for saying such things".

He noted that Ritchie had recently levelled several accusations at former Pakistani prime minister and late party leader Benazir Bhutto and "no one can tolerate such accusations".

"I am not worried about what was said about me. I am more concerned about the baseless accusations levelled at Shaheed Benazir."

"Ali Haider Gillani and Ali Qasim have approached the court in this regard," he said.

Later, in a conversation with Geo News, the former premier said that he had met Ritchie a while back at a diplomat's residence and had met her subsequently on various occasions in large gatherings.

"I am not aware of her background. She contacted my son Ali Qadir Gillani a while back. She told my son his father is an honourable man and he should inquire after me on her behalf."

PPP moves FIA against Ritchie over 'slanderous' remarks

Earlier, the PPP had requested the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) Cybercrime Wing to take immediate action and initiate proceedings against Cynthia D. Ritchie for "extremely derogatory and slanderous remarks" regarding Benazir Bhutto.

"Through this application, it is brought to your notice that a woman, who goes by the name of Cynthia D Ritchie on Twitter has passed extremely derogatory and slanderous remarks about Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, through her Twitter handle/account," the letter dated May 28 read.

"Her remarks being false, untrue, defamating and slanderous as they are, have caused immense pain and agony to the millions across Pakistan who revere and hold Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in high esteem," it said.

"Your office is requested to take immediate action and initiate proceedings against this woman as prescribed by the law and under your mandate. A photocopy of the tweet, a true portrayal of her sick and disgusting mind is attached with the application," the letter added.