=> ISLAMABAD: The Institute of Strategic Studies Isla -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

=> ISLAMABAD: The Institute of Strategic Studies Isla

ISLAMABAD: The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) has jumped in the dispute involving the deported New York Times writer Nicholas Schmidle, saying he had been a researcher with the institute for two years and had no journalistic credentials.

The ISSI clarified that Schmidle had originally approached the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in January 2006. He said at that point of time he had been awarded a fellowship from the Crane-Rogers Foundation to be a Phillips Talbot Fellow with the Institute of Current World Affairs after finishing his MA degree at a university in Washington.

A press release contented that he wanted to continue his studies for two years in Pakistan researching the historical emergence of Pakistan’s national identity.

The ICWA in Washington DC is an academic organization with no journalistic affiliations.

The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad was approached in January 2006 by the HEC asking if the ISSI would host him. As is the tradition at the ISSI, foreign scholars and researchers are always welcome, and so it was in the case of Schmidle.

Upon communication with him, it became evident that he wanted his wife to accompany him, without mentioning that she too would later be taking up degree courses at the International Islamic University, when he requested assistance in terms of proceeding for his visa.

According to the ISSI, the entire correspondence regarding his visa with the departments concerned including Pakistan’s embassy in Washington has been made public.

Schmidle was provided office space; he was also provided with visiting cards with the ISSI monogram stating that he was ISSI Visiting Research Fellow. The institute is firm on its position and its press release said at no point in time was permission sought by Schmidle to visit various parts of Pakistan. Occasionally he informed the DG of his visits. Although, he was requested to present his findings in various seminars and in-house meetings at the ISSI, he did it only once over the two years.

The ISSI claimed that on his request for an extension of his stay at the ISSI that was coming to an end on January 25, 2008, he was informed that the ISSI has already committed to host a number of other foreign scholars from Italy, Myanmar and China, and therefore he could not be accommodated beyond January 25, 2008.

The DG ISSI, in a letter in which it was also stated that, as per normal routine, the Interior Ministry would be sent a copy of the letter, informed Schmidle of this. Informing these ministries was necessitated because the granting and extension of his visa were contingent upon his being hosted as a research fellow by the ISSI. Subsequently, Schmidle informed the Director General about the visits to his home by the police on January 9, 2008 while he was on his way to India for a conference. Schmidle managed to get rid of them through his connection with Tariq Aziz, the press release said.

The ISSI is not aware of what happened between January 9-11, and only found out about his deportation after he had left.

The ISSI said “since all journalists, even those critical of Pakistan have managed to come to the country, the question is why Schmidle chose to present himself as a researcher, rather than a journalist? From the foregoing, it is clear Schmidle came to Pakistan as a researcher rather than a journalist. Why was this cover necessary, especially since it will make it more difficult for the ISSI to host American scholars in the future?

ìThe ISSI feels its open-door policy for researchers and its hospitality was badly abused by Schmidle.”

The ISSI has appealed that while political proclivities may differ, we at the ISSI do request the journalist community and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to at least keep the facts clear about the case.

Source: The News