From verbal accusations to legal defamatory notices

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Rehman Malik, Yousuf Gilani and

Cynthia Ritchie engaged tug of war

Nation special report

ISLAMABAD:  Amidst worrying situation developed by deadly Coronavirus pandemic, political rivalry and NAB’s punitive actions against certain politicians, another very serious but interesting saga has overpowered all scams and shadowed print and electronic media.

The sexual scandal has been claimed by US blogger Cynthia Ritchie against three PPP leaders, Rehman Malik, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Makhdoom Shuhabuddin. The verbal fight has reached the stage of legal notices. Rehman Malik has sent two notices and Yousuf Raza Gilani despatched one notice to Synthia Dawn Ritchi whose beauty is being discussed more than her claims. Now Synthia has also sent a legal notice of Rs120mn to former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in which she threatened to take legal action against him unless he tendered an apology, on Thursday.

Ritchie sent the notice through her counsel Nasir Azeem Khan Advocate, in which she stated that Gilani had harassed her and damaged her reputation by making false accusations.

She alleged that the former prime minister had harassed her “in connivance” with ex-interior minister Rehman Malik 2011. The legal notice accused the PPP media cell of harassing Ritchie on social media as well.

Saying that she was defamed locally and internationally, the US blogger called on Gilani to apologise to her. Ritchie warned that in case the PPP leader did not apologise for levelling allegations against her within 14 days, she would initiate legal action against him.

Ritchie made headlines when she accused former interior minister Rehman Malik of raping her in 2011, during a video broadcast live on Facebook.

She also accused then health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin of “manhandling” her, whiel saying that Gilani had given her an awkward hug, stating that the incidents occurred in 2011 when the PPP was in power.

Gilani had also sent a defamation notice of Rs100 million to Ritchie after she went public with accusations against him. The legal notice was sent to the US citizen through Gilani’s lawyers who asked her to respond within 14 days.

Malik, Gilani and Shahbuddin have categorically rejected Ritchie’s allegations. 

Further allegations:

Two days after former interior minister and senior PPP leader Rehman Malik demanded that the name of Cynthia D. Ritchie be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), the American blogger has alleged that the Pakistan Peoples Party is trying to get her deported.

However, hours later, she shared a confidential document, dated June 8, 2020, about the directive given for putting her name on the no-fly list to ensure her presence before the relevant authorities and courts of law, and tweeted: “‘Confidential’… If true, I don’t have to worry about filing for extension, now.”

She also raised the questions of security of former prime minister and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto on Dec 27, 2007. In one of her tweets, the American blogger said: “I saw bad things from Blackwater operatives & I formally complained to US Ambassador @MunterCameron at the time. Journos should ask when/who authorized/facilitated Blackwater’s presence in Pak? Zardari? Rehman Malik? Why did BB request Blackwater’s protection?”

She further said: “Why inadequate security the day of BB’s assassination? Of all the people in PPP who were in positions of power at the time of BB’s death Zardari, Rehman Malik “security advisor”, former Amb Hussain Haqqani then @sherryrehman … who is still alive? How did they benefit?”

In another series of tweets, the American blogger said prime minister’s adviser Babar Awan, besides Mr Malik, had shared the blame for the security lapses. She tweeted: “Thank you to PPP/BB loyalists who shared information with me: ‘The former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was left to the mercy of her assassins by her security chief who abandoned her in the minutes before her death, a key witness has told the United Nations inquiry into her death. Chaudhry Mohummad Aslam, one of Ms Bhutto’s protocol officers who was guarding her vehicle when she was shot, said that Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik and current law minister Babar Awan were to blame for security lapses which allowed her killers to strike.’”

Earlier, Rehman Malik, who is also chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, had demanded that the US blogger be placed on the ECL and asked the interior secretary, Islamabad police chief and chief commissioner to provide her foolproof security during her stay in Pakistan as apprehensions had been expressed in a TV show about her safety.

The chairman also transferred the suo motu notice proceedings regard-ing her highly defamatory tweets about Benazir Bhutto to the Senate Standing Committee on IT and Telecommunication.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Senator Malik said the PPP leader had not yet responded to Ms Ritchie on her defamatory tweets and not passed any derogatory remarks against her in reaction.

Mr Malik has said he considers it below his dignity to respond to such allegations as he believes in getting justice through court of law for which he has already served two notices on her.