Karachi, Oct 12 (IANS) The Karachi Press Club has asked the government to withdraw a travel ban on a Dawn journalist who reported alleged differences between the military and civilian leadership over terrorists.
The News International on Wednesday quoted the Club’s President, Fazil Jamili, as saying that the government acted in haste by putting Dawn staff writer Cyril Almieda on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The ECL bars people from leaving Pakistan.
“The Ministry of Interior did not even follow the required legal course in this matter in putting someone’s name on the ECL without a court order,” Jamili said.
“If the government wants to take legal course against Dawn or the said correspondent, it has every legal right to do so, but, before any judicial order any such move would mean putting undue pressure on the newspaper and harassment of the journalist,” the statement said.
“Without any case or proper inquiry, putting the name of a journalist on ECL would be considered as an attempt to suppress the media.”
Almeida’s report said that the civilian leadership had bluntly told the military-intelligence leadership that Pakistan faced global isolation until action was taken against terrorists.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office has thrice denied the report.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International condemned the Pakistan government for imposing a travel ban on Almeida.
“It is one thing for the authorities to dispute and contradict a media report. But it is quite another to threaten a journalist under the guise of national security,” said Amnesty’s Audrey Gaughran.
Human rights activists urged the government immediately to lift the travel and other restrictions on Almeida.
The ban “will cause distress to all those, at home and abroad, who believe in the freedom of expression and the rights of journalists”, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said.