Editorial: Government’s ECL blunder

Published: October 12, 2016
Cyril Almeida. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Cyril Almeida. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

There were many ways for the government to handle the front page report published in Dawn by the well-respected journalist Cyril Almeida. Sadly, it chose the worst possible option. Now it must pay the cost. No representative government in this day and age can put a journalist on the Exit Control List for his writings and not have its dignity shredded through ridicule, scorn and sheer contempt.
The report described what transpired at a high level meeting at which the civil leadership criticised the military’s policies on militancy. The story was based on anonymous sources which is not a rarity in journalism. Such stories require greater editorial vetting, fact checking and source-verification. Once the story is cleared for publication, and that too on the front page, it bears the stamp of the authority of the Editor. In this case, the Editor of Dawn has categorically stated he stands by the story. This is good enough for us. It should have been good enough for the government and the military. Even if it was not, the government exercised its right to issue a clarification which was duly published.

Govt dismisses ‘fabricated’ report, reaffirms army’s lead role in fight against terrorism

What is deeply troubling is the government’s ludicrous decision to place Mr. Almeida on the ECL. This is nothing but a brazen attempt to harass and intimidate a journalist and threaten not just his organisation but the media as a whole. It turns out however that the government is incompetent even in its bullying, which is evidenced by the damage it has managed to wreak on its own democratic credibility. It is shocking that after all these years in power, this government displays such scant understanding of media freedom. This raises some very disturbing questions about the capacity of the government to shape Pakistan into a modern, progressive and truly democratic society.

Let it be known to one and all in the government that the media stands united in support of Mr. Almeida and journalists’ right to write. We demand that the authorities remove Mr. Almeida’s name from the ECL immediately and desist from taking any other ill-advised step against the media.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • abreez
    Oct 12, 2016 - 7:11PM

    Both ‘Royal Houses’ are not on the same page, they were not on the same page and they will not be on the same page. Leg pulling on one end work for catharsis and on other end creates opportunities for those who want opportunities.Recommend

  • Pl_Paris
    Oct 12, 2016 - 7:40PM

    Thank you Tribune!!!
    Whether the story is factually correct or wrong, democratically selected Govt response was very unprofessional. It is very clear they know the story is correct but under pressure from Security agencies, they took this step to please them. But Govt must take tough action for betterment of Pakistan & future generations. Job of military is to secure borders and not to involve in any state policy matters.Recommend

  • Sweyha
    Oct 12, 2016 - 9:19PM

    Freedom of Expression gives you right to say your opinion.That is what newspapers do for people in democracy.I stand for Dawn for impartial and unbiased reporting ,Cyril for your courage and Tribune for this editorial.Kudos from other side of border!Recommend

  • tuk
    Oct 12, 2016 - 9:23PM

    Friction between governments and journalists exist everywhere, even in the West. Journalists have gone to jails for not divulging their sources. I would say the law of the land should be followed. Press also needs to understand that governments can’t function without keeping some things confidential. Recommend

  • Avtar
    Oct 13, 2016 - 2:08AM

    I have admired Cyril’s insightful analysis. It is tragic the establishment is so sensitive. May be he touched a truth nerve!!! I certainly hope Cyril does not disappear or exiled.Recommend

  • Sabi
    Oct 13, 2016 - 2:41AM

    The story raised the image of Military top brass finally being subservient to civil rule
    The reaction of the government destroyed the image created.Recommend

  • Shocked and Horrified
    Oct 13, 2016 - 3:14AM

    A journalist with impeccable credentials has been put on ECL by the powers that be. I fully support the journalist and the views expressed in this editorial.Recommend

  • Sara
    Oct 13, 2016 - 3:25AM

    Thankyou for showing solidarity with Dawn News on this. This impacts us all especially the Media as a wholeRecommend

  • Shocked and Horrified
    Oct 13, 2016 - 3:35AM

    A journalist with impeccable integrity has been put on ECL for publishing an article which has not gone down well with Powers that be. I for one fully support the journalist and the views expressed in the editorial. Period.Recommend

  • Reality
    Oct 13, 2016 - 5:43AM

    I have read Dawn newspaper and many news posts by Ciril Almeida. His postings are thought provoking, raise the right questions and very informative. He definitely stands apart and believe is widely respected. If he has written this article his writing cannot be questioned. I am sure the government and military have been embarrassed and put to shame. It has also highlighted what was known to everyone worldwide. It’s a shame and he should be let go free without being on ECL.Recommend

  • jimmy warsi
    Oct 13, 2016 - 5:51AM

    I am seeing these days loud hue and cry as if sky has fallen and everyone are now talking of freedom of expression, democracy and what not. With all my respect and a reminder what happened to media houses,intellectuals including justice system when voice, picture and write ups of Altaf Hussain Founder of MQM was suspended and suppressed on a narrative based on hatred that AH spoke against Pak Army and Pakistan. Today I am hearing same rhetoric coming from government minister, supporters and leaders of other political forces (Asif Zardari, Mehmood Achakzai and others).

    When will we as Pakistanis see Justice being done and not denied. Wake up Pakistan!!! Recommend

  • An Ordinary Pakistani
    Oct 13, 2016 - 6:41AM

    First, kudos to Tribune and its editor for taking such a bold stand in support of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Without such freedoms a democracy cannot function, cannot even survive for very long.

    Secondly, by trying to muzzle the national press, by harassing journalists and newspapers the current rulers have exposed their true faces. And they are anything but democratic.

    It is time that people wake up and raise their voices in support of journalists and the press to ensure that these undemocratic forces do not succeed in taking away people’s hard-won democratic rights and freedoms.

    More power to the people!
    More power to the national press! Recommend

  • TooTrue
    Oct 13, 2016 - 6:45AM

    Cyril Almeida is a national treasure. Long may he continue doing what he does best. We are with him.Recommend

  • Nikki
    Oct 13, 2016 - 7:20AM

    Journalists are not above law

    Pakistan comes first.enough said…Recommend

  • Maqsood
    Oct 13, 2016 - 7:36AM

    Keep your chin up young man. The nation and your journalism fraternity from all over the world stand behind you. Thank you for standing up and speaking truth. You made us proud of yourself. Recommend

  • Disgusting
    Oct 13, 2016 - 7:46AM

    Why was Cyril so keen to leave for Dubai so suddenly? Recommend

  • Arvind Deodhar
    Oct 13, 2016 - 7:52AM

    Pakistan into a modern, progressive and truly democratic society? – Pakistan thinks as if it is still in medieval period. It can never be Modern! Pakistan people are ruled by backward, nomadic, conservative clergies, it can never be Progressive! Pakistan is ruled mostly by army or under army’s directive. Even when the elections take place, they are always blamed to be rigged. Pakistan can never be Truly Democratic Society. By nature, the Muslims like to be governed by autocratic dictator, or a tyrant king. Democracy is not in their blood. Recommend

  • Feroz
    Oct 13, 2016 - 8:42AM

    Very strong support not just to an individual and his report, but a strong voice for freedom of the Press too. If the media does not stick together and support each other, it will keep getting targeted. Media has a job to inform readers truthfully what is going on in various places so citizens are made aware of reality. If government thinks report is false it should file a defamation case rather than indulge in abuse of existing laws. Hope wisdom prevails and journalists including Mr Almieda are removed from ECL. As long as a vibrant Press exists, a country has hope for transformation.Recommend

  • saleem
    Oct 13, 2016 - 10:42AM

    Sometime it seems that there is no government but only mafias. They take right action to privatize an airline and airline mafia creates havoc. They touch a lawyer for his misdoings and lawyer mafia gets into action. Now they rightfully put a media guy and media baradari is in action with editorials and what not. Can no media guy be investigated by this government ? are they above the law ? In this case , I definitely think that when it was heated situation, circulating an unfounded story (which both sides are denying except the story teller ) definitely needs investigation at minimum. Did you see ANY indian channel talking least sense … NO , because they are required by their govt to follow the line. Whereas in Pakistan , the journalists , for cheap publicity would start inventing the news. There has to be a line drawn somewhere !!!Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 13, 2016 - 1:02PM

    Nicely said……and now we know that its not only Imran Khan who shoots himself in the foot.Recommend

  • B.N.Gururaj
    Oct 13, 2016 - 1:10PM

    I have regularly read Mr.Cyril Almeida’s columns in the Dawn for about two years now. He gives balanced criticism of any topic at hand, not given to hyperbole. The solidarity shown by the Express Tribune in this matter is admirable. Media also has a duty to ensure that the Government or Military does not harass him or his family members.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar
    Oct 13, 2016 - 3:57PM

    How much Cyril Almeida and DAWN took money from anti-Pakistan elements, they have to tell to the nation. Even though anyone told them the story, they should not have published it in this newspaper. There are a lot of black sheeps in our society including writers and media must be exemplary punished. Recommend

  • Irfan
    Oct 13, 2016 - 5:04PM

    My fellow country men does not realize the importance of great game being played by international agencies in Pakistan and they fell prey to those tactics. Recommend

  • np
    Oct 13, 2016 - 7:51PM

    @Zulfiqar: Can you please explain what was sensitive in the story which has not already been reported? It actually showed Pakistan in a good light with civilians asserting that non-state-actors must be reined in for Pakistan’s own good.Recommend

  • A Y Shukri
    Oct 14, 2016 - 10:00AM

    I am surprised by the interest that Indian’s are taking in a Pakistani affair. I wonder why anyone who writes any thing against Pakistan or its institutions is always well respected by the Indians. Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Oct 14, 2016 - 7:07PM

    @A Y Shukri:
    Its mutual. Aren’t Kejriwal and Arunadhiti Roy rock stars in Pakistan??Recommend

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