ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Friday decided to remove Cyril Almeida’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) three days after the senior journalist was put on the no-fly list for publishing a ‘controversial’ story.
“Reiterating full support to freedom of the press and the independence of media, and as a good-will gesture, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has ordered removal of the name of a journalist from ECL who had filed an inaccurate and fabricated news item about a national security meeting,” read a statement issued by the interior ministry.
It said the removal of Almeida’s name from ECL “would in no way affect the ongoing inquiry into the matter and the inquiry would continue to its logical conclusion.”
The interior minister took the decision after meeting with representatives of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) in Islamabad. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin Ali Khan were also present during the meeting.
The APNS and CPNE delegation consisted of CPNE President Zia Shahid, APNS President Sarmad Ali, CPNE Secretary General Aijazul Haq and APNS Secretary General Umar Shami. Senior journalists Arif Nizami and Mujeebur Rehman Shami accompanied the delegation as well.
Talking to the delegation, Nisar reiterated his call that independent media must play its role “not only towards safeguarding national interests and security but also to counter negative propaganda of the enemies of state.”
“Unverified and speculative news items citing sources on national security issues must be refrained from,” he added.
The information minister, meanwhile, said the government had firm belief in freedom of press and had proved it time and again that it cannot compromise on it.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2016.