Former prime minister Yousaf Raza GillaniÂ has sent a defamation notice to Pakistan-based American blogger Cynthia Ritchie, who has accused him of “manhandling” her while he was “staying at the President’s House”.
The notice, sent through his lawyer on Wednesday, says she will be liable to pay Rs100 million for her defamatory allegations.
Ritchie had made the explosive claims on June 5, in a video broadcast live on Facebook.
She had then also accused former interior minister Rehman Malik of raping her and of the then health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin of also “manhandling” her, saying that the incidents occurred in 2011 when the PPP was in power.
Furthermore, she has claimed she, as well as her sisters, have been harassed online by various PPP members and supporters.
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.”
Online spat turns dark
The feud seemed to have begun with Ritchie’s “slanderous” remarks on Twitter against late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, but what the blogger claims likely stem from “dirt” she has on the party.
PPP has filed a complaint with the FIA for Ritchie’s tweet and claims Ritchie’s accusations against party leaders are in response to that.
Ritchie, in a Geo News interview with “Naya Pakistan” host Shahzad Iqbal claimed a PPP leader provided her information on Benazir Bhutto based on which she had posted the tweet.
She said that she would prove her allegations against senior PPP leaders in court and would present whatever evidence she had to authorities in Pakistan.
Ritchie said that she was “going nowhere” and was ready to face the consequences if her allegations were proven false.