PTI peace march: Pakistan High Commission denies receiving journalists' visa applications

Published: September 29, 2012
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Pakistan mission rejects PTI statements in which the party claimed that two foreign journalists were denied visas.  PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan mission rejects PTI statements in which the party claimed that two foreign journalists were denied visas. PHOTO: FILE

The Pakistan High Commission in London has rejected news that two foreign journalists who were invited to cover the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) South Waziristan peace march were denied Pakistani visas. The party had earlier issued a statement claiming that the two journalists had been denied visas.

In a statement sent to The Express Tribune, the Pakistan High Commission categorically denied the news and maintained that it had not received any visa applications from journalists Carol Grayson and Yacine Helali, as claimed by the PTI.

The statement added that the Pakistan High Commission has always been “generous” in issuing visas to journalists, however, “it has to follow certain rules, regulations as well as security requirements for areas such as South Waziristan where war against terrorism is on”.

“These constraints are essentially for the safety of journalists to secure them against any untoward incident that could lead to embarrassment for Pakistan in foreign media. Therefore, the Pakistan High Commission, London has to seek clearance from relevant security agencies for necessary action,” the statement added.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Jihad Bil-Qalam
    Sep 29, 2012 - 5:03PM

    It makes a lot of sense. Does it mean that PTI’s earlier statement about Pakistan High Commission’s rejection of the visa applications of Carol Grayson and Yacine Helali was inaccurate! It appears that Carol Grayson and Yacine Helali did not receive their Pakistani visas simply becuase they did not apply, and not becuase their visa applications were rejected by the High Commission. PTI should explain why they tried to make political mileage out of the lack of interest of the jounalists in coming to Pakistan to participate in the PTI’s Waziristan march, by issuing a clearly wrong statement.

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  • Pungi
    Sep 29, 2012 - 5:18PM

    Ataghfirullah!!

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  • Carol Grayson
    Sep 29, 2012 - 5:43PM

    My colleague Yacine Helali and I went to Bradford Consulate where we completed forms and were told it could take months for a visa to be issued for filming the peace march. We asked to leave our forms with them and we would return with any additional informational that would help with clearance as we were assured that PTI was covering security for the march which consulate did not accept. We had letters of invitation with us direct from PTI advising Consulate give us multiple entry visas for continuation of our media activities. Peace activists in the US were given visas. We rang PTI for advice and they assisted suggesting that we contact London High Commission and we were asked to submit personal information by email which we did immediately and said we were ready to return to Bradford or London again ASAP in person with our completed forms which we had tried to hand in at Bradford. We had numerous phone calls assisted by PTI, asking when we could be interviewed at High Commission offices as we were were running out of time We had PTI officials, a human rights lawyer, trade union person and a press officer assisting on our behalf but we were told that there was a problem with Islamabad, that they weren’t being clear and that they felt PTI could not offer security though they had already arranged it. Therefore they could not issue a visa to a “no- go” area Waziristan and that the Mehsud tribe that were organising security with PTI had themselves asked for security. Neil Williams (who at worked at Reprieve) was also not granted a visa and a journalist in the US gave up when he discovered how long it would take. It seems the process is very selective. For example we understand others from the UK were given visas, so why not us… There is no doubt that there is a security issue in Pakistan regarding journalists as they are frequently picked up, beaten, tortured even killed as happened to my colleague Saleem Shahzad last year. Pakistan has an appalling safety record for journalists. Its about time that these cases were investigated more thoroughly to see who is doing this and that they are held fully accountable… It seems to me that independent journalists are at most risk, those that seek to verify fact and wont be manipulated by state agencies. At the end of the day, the people will judge the situation for themselves in the run up to the elections… It makes sense to have a party in power that will allow a free press and do all it can to protect journalists…

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 29, 2012 - 6:15PM

    PTI’s lies exposed. Now party will announce that it has cancelled Peace March because Governmet of Pakistan blocked Waziristan map on Internet.

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  • Ali
    Sep 29, 2012 - 6:28PM

    Mr Pakistani High Commission uncal sam must be vvvvery very happy with you
    cous you had stop the journalists from showing his Evil face to the world.

    brvo.

    sham on you.Recommend

  • Carol Grayson
    Sep 29, 2012 - 8:16PM

    You are completely and have submitted my comments to this paper for publication…

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  • Carol Grayson
    Sep 29, 2012 - 8:24PM

    @Ali: I am waiting for my comments to be printed on here about our visa…

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  • Imran Con
    Sep 29, 2012 - 9:25PM

    @Ali:
    Yeah, as if those people were some make or break requirement. Do you think other countries come to Pakistan to get the news articles published? Most countries consider sending their people there to be a death wish. Not to hide anything.
    What’s stopping you from exposing this evil face any other day of the year, anyways? That march has as much, maybe even less, credibility upon arrival as a small group of journalists.

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  • Pungi
    Sep 29, 2012 - 9:37PM

    ComeOn you guys!
    Check the tweets of these journos on twitter & you will get the truth who is lying!

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  • Raj - USA
    Sep 29, 2012 - 10:36PM

    I believe that these journalists did not apply for visas. I doubt that even those who have got their visas shall attend the peace march. They all must be watching IRI polls. The vortex created by the receding tsunami shall be disastrous to PTI. Of course IK has nothing to loose. He never had anything to begin with.

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  • Ahmad Rizwan
    Sep 29, 2012 - 10:36PM

    I am a witness to the fact that these people did apply for the visa well in time and they were being told that the decision is pending. It is only in the last couple of days has the High Commission said that they cannot issue the visa citing “security concerns” despite the fact that other journalist from US media have been given permission not just from US but here in London. It speaks volumes about the double standards. I am one of those who have resigned from my job in the UK just so I can go back and serve my country. With no job prospects etc. I have taken the plunge because I believe in the future of Pakistan not individual politicians, they are here today and gone tomorrow. The loyalty should be with Pakistan and its image rather than personalities.

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  • Abdullah
    Sep 29, 2012 - 10:50PM

    Classic anti-PTI supporters are commenting without even seeing that Carol Greyson herself has commented above telling the truth…lol

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  • Carol Grayson
    Sep 29, 2012 - 11:15PM

    As it happened my colleague took a photo in the Consulate at Bradford when we went to hand in our applications initially (which were they didn’t accept) intending to add it to our film and discussed the difficulties on our Facebook pages at the time… plenty of witnesses to those discussions.We are not in the habit of driving for hours to other cities for nothing, our purose was to obtain a visa. This was prior to contacting the High Commission. If you want to know why I am supporting the peace march and am against drones read my article on here. I was also a victim of US “collateral damage” (though not drones) my husband and brother in law were killed by the state so I stand in solidarity with other victims of US “collateral damage” in Waziristan. I would have thought that any political party that cared about civilians being unlawfully killed would join in a peace march… this is not about political scoring… its about saving lives! http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/disowning-the-drones-by-carol-grayson/

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  • Pungi
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:09AM

    Thankyou! Carol Grayson for the clarification..!
    In Pakistan justice is usually delayed unfortunately..that’s why it took long for your comments approval..!

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  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Sep 30, 2012 - 7:46AM

    Our High Commissioner in UK, Wajid Shams-ul-Hassan denies that the mission received visa applications from foreign journalists Carol Grayson and Vacine Helali whereas comments on the news items by one of the two, Carol Grayson, present an entirely different story, and considering the standards of ethics and integrity displayed by very many of our officials, it is not very difficult to determine whom to believe.

    I think Wajid Shahms-ul-Hasan is the same person who had collected the cartons containing evidence of the Swiss case, bypassing our Swiss embassy officials, which shows very clearly where his loyalty lies. He is also the person who declined to come to Pakisan when called by Memo Commission, claiming inability to do so due to ill health and I wondered at that time what was such a sick person doing in an important High Commission. By the look of it, he is still around and kicking.

    As for fears expressed by the High Commissioner for the security of journalists, and the attempt to avoid embarrassment that any untoward incident could cause, I would say that these are not the faint-hearts who enter the field of journalism and many journalists give away their lives covering difficult situations and even war fronts. As for embarrassment, if our government has been trying to avoid it, I would say it has failed miserably because it seems to be not much else but an utter embarrassment, locally as well as at international level.

    Karachi
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  • Raj - USA
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:21AM

    @Raj – USA:
    It is now clear that I was wrong and my earlier comments where I thought these journalists did not apply for the visas was not correct.

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  • Dr. A.K.Tewari
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:29AM

    This seems to be a created controvercy just to get excuse to withdraw proposed march by PTI

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  • Carol Grayson
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:36AM

    Thanks Riz for bearing witness to the difficulties of our application and others for believing us. Officials kept changing the goal posts as to what was required in our circumstances and level of security risk depending on who was applying. For example there are some older retired ladies on the peace march from America, they were given clearance for a visa but surely the same security risks apply to them… We had taken the stance to be open and apply under a business visa for media as we had nothing to hide. We simply wanted to film victims of drone strikes and the peace march. The documentary has been over two years in the research and planning stage as initially I was writing articles on drones and building up my contacts on the ground in Pakistan, I then decided to make a film. I am pleased that you are returning Riz, honest people are needed to build a new Pakistan and I am sure we will meet up in the near future as I am intending to reaapply for a visa. We may miss the march itself but we still want to document the victims. I have answered questions for reporters in Pakistan and hopefully that interview will be online soon regarding drones.

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  • Umer
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:02AM

    @ Carol Grayson
    Thanks alot for commenting of this page. Finally the people know that actual cause of visa denial.

    @ people against PTI
    So if PTI holds the peace march you will have the decency to appologize publicly !

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  • Pakistani
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:44AM

    Thanks Carol for at least trying.

    I hope you get to Pak somehow and can help us stopping this massacre.

    Apologies on behalf of my fellow countrymen who are putting up senseless comments.

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  • Bilal Magsi
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:24PM

    Thanks Carol for clarification. As a staunch PTI supporter and hatred towards drones attack, we are disappointed on the denial of visa. We will support PTI in this march and hopefully it will prove success in highlighting issues of drone victims. Hope innocents get some relief and justice.

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