ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad-based US national claimed on Friday that she was assaulted and raped by top politicians of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party almost a decade ago. The charges, denied by all the three men she has accused, came after days of an online conflict with the PPP.
The American woman, a blogger and travel writer, left millions of Pakistani social media users stunned with her allegations that she was raped by Rehman Malik of the PPP at his house around the time that Al Qaeda Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid. Malik was the home minister then. “In 2011, I was raped by the former interior minister Rehman Malik. That’s right, I’ll say it again. I was raped by the then interior minister Rehman Malik,” she said in a live video on her Facebook page. She added that she was raped after her drink was laced with a drug at his residence.
The blogger also accused former federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of “physically manhandling” her while Gilani was staying at the “President’s House”.
While Gilani said he would take legal action against his accuser for her “defamatory” remarks, Rehman Malik said he respected the woman and would not go to court to clear his name.
Ritchie said she had not talked about “some of the more graphic details” because her audience could include children but added that she would be “happy to go into more detail” with neutral investigative journalists, Dawn reported.
She said she was now engaged to a man in Pakistan and it was he who had encouraged her to speak out “so we can move on as a couple”.
Despite denials and threats of legal action by the Pakistani politicians she has accused, the American woman said she would name many more among the Pakistani political elite, including those belonging to former PM Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
While most social media activists sided with the US blogger, many have questioned her allegations and the length of time (almost a decade) that has passed between the alleged crimes and her accusations.
The blogger, however, has mentioned in one of her tweets that she had informed US embassy officials in Islamabad about the incident in 2011 but, given the nature of the US-Pakistan relationship at that time, the “response was less than adequate”.
Many also believe that her accusations are at somebody’s behest to malign the already cornered political opposition. In her tweets, she has been posting photographs of her trips to Pakistan’s Northern Areas along with senior military and police officers.
Despite staying in Pakistan for years, the blogger remains an enigma for many Pakistanis who think she might have been used, along with a few other Western social media influencers, to beef up the country’s image in the eyes of global social media users.
The blogger has been commenting about the PPP leadership for days now and the subjects of her tweets have included former PM Benazir Bhutto and known second-line political PPP personalities. There were calls by party officials to investigate the American woman’s motive for coming to Pakistan and staying on for years.