Curbs on Indian reporters only for their safety
NEW DELHI- Pakistan, responding to criticism from an international journalist rights group, said that Indian reporters hoping to cover the US attack crisis had been denied travel visas for their own safety.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a letter to President Pervez Musharraf this Week that the restrictive policy” had seriously impeded the Indian press and international media companies with staff based in New Delhi.
“CPJ urges Your Excellency to ensure that journalists are not barred from Pakistan on the basis of their nationality or ethnic background,” the New York-based group said.
“Because the current crisis is one of truly global proportions, it is crucial that journalists from around the world are granted unfettered access to countries currently on the. ‘Frontlines’, such as Pakistan.”
An official at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi said 10-12 Indian journalists had applied, so far unsuccessfully, for visas to travel to Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks.
He quoted the Pakistan foreign office spokesman as saying, “since we cannot guarantee their safety while they are here, we are for the time being not issuing them any visas.“
The crisis over the assault on Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, has aggravated tension between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan.
India has been dismayed by Washington’s renewed amity with its Cold War ally, Pakistan, as part of an effort to build a global coalition against terrorism. It alleges Pakistan is itself a source of terrorism, particularly in occupied Kashmir.
A Pakistan’s local newspaper said last month that the government was “not issuing visas to Indian journalists, saying that they have nothing to report from here except anti-Pakistan stories.”
‘The government took this decision after reading and watching the unabated atrocious campaign against Pakistan in the wake of (the) terror attack in the US,” the newspaper said.
There are only two Indian journalists based in Pakistan.
CPJ said journalist of Indian origin holding citizenship from Western countries had been waiting for visas since mid-September, while non-Indian journalists typically receive visas within days, if not hours, of submitting applications.
An American journalist of Indian descent who reported from Pakistan for The Hindustan Times for more than a month said this week that he had been sent out of the country. The official at the Pakistani High Commission explained that the journalist had gone to Pakistan on a tourist visa.
Source: Business Recorder