A Pakistan-based American blogger, Cynthia D. Ritchie, has levelled grave accusations of rape against former Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and alleged that the senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader laced her drink with sedatives prior to the sexual assault in 2011. Ritchie made the allegations during a Facebook live, which went viral on Twitter on Friday.
The US blogger further accused former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and former Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin of physically manhandling her inside ex-President Asif Ali Zardari’s House in Islamabad.
The conflict between the PPP and Pakistan-based American blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie intensified on Friday after the latter came out with allegations of rape and assault against some top PPP leaders.
After her allegations brought a whirlwind of conflict in Pakistan's politics, Ritchie tweeted, "Occurred at IM's house in min enclave 2011 around the OBL incident. I thought it a meeting about my visa but I was given flowers/a drugged drink. I kept quiet - who in PPP gov't would help me against PPP IM (referring to the Interior Minister Rehman Malik). Recently they attacked family; I've had it. Ready to face any accuser."
In a subsequent tweet, Ritchie said, "And, yes, I did tell someone at the UsEmb in 2011, but due to 'fluid' situation and 'complex' relations between US and Pakistan, response was less than adequate. I've been engaged to a wonderful man who I met in PAK. He encouraged me to speak out, so we can move on as a couple."
While Malik could not be reached for a comment despite multiple attempts, Gilani and his son strongly denied the allegations, The Dawn newspaper reported.
The blogger also stated in her video that she was reserving "some of the more graphic details" because her audience could include children and would be happy to go into detail with the "appropriate, neutral investigative journalists" and that she "will be ready to meet any and all investigators, as is required by law, as early as next week".
"I was physically manhandled by then Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani -- while the latter was staying at the President's House," she said.
Ritchie has close to 220,000 followers on Twitter, who ran supportive hashtags such as "pride of Pakistan" (#CynthiaIsPrideOfPakistan) since she made the allegations public on Friday.
In a tweet before going live on Facebook, she alleged that members of "#ZardarisFilthyPPP" were threatening her because "they know that over the years I have been raped/assaulted by men in the highest ranks of PPP. They don't want the world to know."
"Recently they (PPP members) attacked family; I've had it. Ready to face any accuser," she said, adding that she was encouraged "to speak out" by her fiance, who she met in Pakistan, so that the duo can "move on as a couple".
In the explosive video, the blogger alleged that she has been "harassed for years now by the PPP". "I have received countless threats against my life, rape threats, claims that PPP has my father," she claimed, adding that she has "evidentiary support" of everything she has been alleging.
Besides, Ritchie claimed that she had informed about the incident to "someone" at the US Embassy in 2011, however, "due to fluid situation and complex relations between US and Pakistan, the response was less than adequate".