US bars Pak newsmen from briefing -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

US bars Pak newsmen from briefing

KANDAHAR- Pakistani journalists were banned to attend the daily briefings of US Marines at ‘Kandahar airport’ after being declared as security risk.

Major Chris Hughes conveyed the decision, which was attributed to higher US authorities, to Pakistani newsmen at the main airport gate the other day. The journalists have been denied permission on one pretext or other for few days for attending the briefing about US Marines activities, ranging detention of Arab fighters and Afghan leaders and their future plan.

“A ban has been put on the entry of Pakistani journalists at Kandahar airport area as we continue to receive threats so we cannot take risk in this regard”, explained Major Hughes. He also said that he wanted to tell the Pakistani journalists about the latest situation that the US authorities were not going to give them permission to participate in any activity of the US forces in the airport.

When one of the Pakistani journalists protested over this discrimination and contended that the journalists from every country including from the Arab countries are allowed, but only Pakistanis are denied permission, Major Hughes explained that he himself did not agree with the decision, but it were the higher authorities who decided this and they have to implement that.

“In the wake of threats to us, our authorities think that anyone may manage to enter in the airport and security zone under the garb of Pakistani journalist, so we do not want to take risk”, the US Marines Public Affairs Officer explained.

Pakistani journalists are treated separately than rest of their colleagues belonging to other countries for the sake of security, as the newsmen from all over world are acceptable in the briefing, but not Pakistanis. The anomaly of the policy is that, if the contention for this irrational and unjust decision is accepted, than the journalists from Arab countries may pose more threat to the US forces than Pakistanis.

Some of the Pakistani newsmen who are five in number and associated with national newspapers and foreign news agencies and TV network, were first told to ask their editors or authorities to send E-mails to Pentagon recognizing as their staff members and permission for attending the briefings. When it was done, it was again suggested that E-mail should be addressed to US Marines Public Affairs Officer. Kandahar airport.

When again this procedure was followed, so finally these journalists were told that they are security risk for Americans, so they are banned inside the airport. The explanation of the US authorities are convincing, but there must be some other reasons for banning the journalists whose country being an ally presently is fully cooperating with the United States in the fight against terrorism. The US instead of making its foolproof security arrangements, it banned Pakistani journalists. The newsmen even newcomers particularly from western countries are allowed to attend the briefings, exempting them from the procedures of editors or organizations recommendation through E-mails after just checking their passports and Press cards.

The media men from a country are being discriminated that provided its six airports to the US forces, despite public protest and lost his over seven military personnel during shifting of Al-Qaeda members from one area to another besides handing over 30 Arab fighters to the United States.

Meanwhile, to preempt the questions about the ban on Pakistani journalists, US Marines Lt. James Jarvis declared before the Sunday briefing started formally, “ no question about ban on Pakistan journalists”.
Source: The Nation
Date:1/14/2002