Pakistan imposes travel ban on prominent journalist amid government criticism


A Pakistani journalist has been barred from leaving the country after a controversial article. His report came amid growing tensions in the region over Pakistan’s alleged ties to militant groups.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Cyril Almeida said on Tuesday on the social media platform Twitter that the government had added him to the so-called “Exit Control List,” which bars him from leaving Pakistan.

The announcement follows an article Almeida wrote for the prestigious English-language “Dawn” newspaper in which he reported that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had called on the country’s powerful military to renounce support for militant groups fighting against neighboring India, including the Haqqani network affiliated with the Afghan Taliban.

The article spawned an immediate backlash against Almeida when it was published last Thursday, as well as repeated denials from Sharif’s government. Later, Almeida posted his frustration following the announcement of his travel ban.

“Dawn” rejects criticism

Almeida’s article was published during a time of rising tension in the region, after an attack on an Indian army base in the disputed region of Kashmir left 19 soldiers dead. New Dehli has claimed the militant group behind the attack is based in Pakistan.

Following the incident, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan pulled out of a regional summit to be held in Pakistan, forcing Islamabad to postpone the event.

Following accusations by Sharif’s government that Almeida’s story was “fabricated,” “Dawn” published a statement denying the claim.

“The story that has been rejected by Prime Minister’s Office as a fabrication was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked,” the newspaper said. “Therefore, the elected government and state institutions should refrain from targeting the messenger, and scape-goating the country’s most respected newspaper in a malicious campaign.”

blc/jar  (AFP, dpa)