Pakistan puts Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida on exit control list; minister says no rift between Sharif govt, Army

Pakistan government has repeatedly denied the story of a rift between civilian and military leaderships by Cyril Almeida, a columnist and reporter for the Dawn newspaper.

Updated: Oct 11, 2016, 17:04 PM IST
Pakistan puts Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida on exit control list; minister says no rift between Sharif govt, Army
Pic courtsey: Facebook

Islamabad: A day after barring a prominent Pakistani journalist from leaving the country after he reported on a rift between civilian and military leaderships, a minister here on Tuesday said that the Nawaz Sharif government and Army are on the same page on terror.

Talking to CNN-News 18, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Barjees Tahir tried to insist that media is free in Pakistan, “but if they don't follow a law, it is wrong.”

Cyril Almeida, a columnist and reporter for the Dawn newspaper, tweeted that he has been told that he has been put on 'Exit Control List' - a system of border control maintained by Pakistan government which allows it to bar people whose names appear on the list from leaving the country.

The development has come less than a week after he wrote a front-page story in the widely-read daily about a rift between Pakistan's civilian and military leaderships over jihadi groups operating from Pakistan but engage in war against India and Afghanistan.

Maintaining that there is no rift between the Nawaz Sharif government and Army, Tahir told the channel that Almeida should come out with the source of investigation.

“It was irresponsible of the reporter to file a story of this kind,” said the minister, adding: “It's a preventive measure and it is a transparent enquiry.”

On October 6, Almeida, citing sources, reported about a verbal clash in a meeting of top officials of civilian government of Sharif and spy chief of military-led Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) over alleged support to militants.

His report said the civilian government told the military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan due to their alleged support to militancy.

Pakistan government has repeatedly denied the story.

"(The) Prime Minister took serious notice of the violation and directed that those responsible should be identified for stern action," according to an official statement.

Almeida's scoop came amidst a backdrop of heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the attack on an Indian army base in Uri on September 18 in which 19 soldiers were killed by Pakistan-backed terrorists belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit.

On September 29, India carried out "surgical strikes" on seven terror launch pads across the LoC, and the Indian Army said it had inflicted "significant casualties" on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has denied the surgical strike by India but has claimed two of its soldiers were killed in alleged ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops.

(With Agency inputs)