Letter of protest: Foreign media want Walsh back in Pakistan

Published: June 22, 2013
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Write to information minister to reinstate visa of expelled NYT bureau chief. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPERSS

Write to information minister to reinstate visa of expelled NYT bureau chief. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPERSS

ISLAMABAD: 

Foreign media organisations sent a letter of protest on Friday to the information minister against the expulsion of Declan Walsh, The New York Times bureau chief for Islamabad.

The letter sent to the Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid sought re-instatement of Walsh’s visa.

With the signatures of 17 heads of prominent foreign media outlets in Pakistan, the letter states: “Mr Walsh is a respected journalist of high standing who has lived and worked in Pakistan for nine years for both The Guardian and The New York Times newspapers but in the early morning hours of May 9, police officers delivered a two-sentence letter to Mr Walsh’s home in Islamabad informing him that his visa was cancelled because of unspecified “undesirable activities” and ordering him to leave the country within 72 hours.”

Walsh received no further explanation of his alleged wrongdoing despite repeated requests. He was eventually escorted by security forces to the airport in Lahore and forced to fly out of the country on May 12, it said.

“We fully recognise the Pakistani government’s legal right to control who enters the country and to accredit foreign journalists. But we do not agree with the use of this power to stifle freedom of the press,” it added.

The manner in which the Pakistani government expelled Walsh runs counter to its claims of respecting press freedom and threatens the entire journalist community of the country.

“We therefore ask the government to reinstate Mr Walsh’s visa and allow him to return to the country in line with the nation’s stated commitment to press freedom,” the letter said.

The information minister Pervaiz Rashid when contacted, told The Express Tribune: “I have not seen the letter yet, therefore I am not in a position to comment on the issue, once I’ll receive the letter, I’ll talk to the interior minister and then we will determine what to do next.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • ahmed
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:43PM

    I have read few articles of Walsh, and i think he is hundred time better journalist then Pakistani, his articles give detail account about Pakistan, and his through research make them readable, i am great fan of Mr. Walsh, and i think he should be allowed to come back n Pakistan.

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  • Pakistani
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:52PM

    well as a country, we have a right to give visa to whom we want and to whom we don’t.
    When we applied for US or UK viza, it is clearly mentioned there, that your visa may be rejected without giving any reason.
    so thank you mr walsh, you are not welcome any more. go home.

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  • sm
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:57PM

    who is this “walsh”? who are these independent “17 heads” of prominent (BIASED!!) foreign media? why should Pakistan govt should be bothered about this? who are they to dictate terms to Pakistani govt?

    Pakistani govt did the right thing by throwing them out.I hope India also does the same by throwing them all out. We have seen their so called “press freedom ” when these western media were cheer leading the bombing campaign by international forces in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and now funding of Syrian rebels, while threatening Iran.

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  • Jun 22, 2013 - 1:55PM

    The NYT should send him to any other country in trouble, most probably Muslim, such as Egypt, Yemen, Iraq. What’s the big fuss here?

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  • Marvi Jabbar
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:17PM

    Walsh back was surely involved in illegal contents that is why we threw him back.

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  • Parvez
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:39PM

    When a country feels threatened by a single journalist ………….. then there is something wrong with the country and not the journalist.

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  • FAZ
    Jun 22, 2013 - 4:05PM

    @Parvez:
    Go to USA. Write an article “9/11 was government funded and orgainized”. See who is threatened and to what extent..

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  • FAZ
    Jun 22, 2013 - 4:07PM

    @Parvez:
    Go to USA. Use your freedom of expression according to your own standards. See what happens..

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  • Tulla
    Jun 22, 2013 - 4:11PM

    Legally speaking, Pakistan has the sovereign right to decide about entry and exit of foreigners in its territory. The issue of foreign journalists’ claim to press freedom can’t legally override Pakistan’s sovereign rights. That is why the letter reportedly mentions the ‘disagreement’ of the writers of letter with the action of Government of Pakistan rather than any legal posturing.

    Visas in nearly all the countries are issued on the basis that the host country retains the legal right to cancel it without providing any reason. If such an incident would happen to any Pakistani journalist in any developed country nobody would care to discuss or engage upoin it.

    Nevertheless, it will be good to get some details of what were the undesirable activities that the journalist was accused off.

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  • Gratgy
    Jun 22, 2013 - 4:54PM

    Walsh writes beautifully about his pakistan in an unbiased way. Maybe He was thrown out because the army could not understand what he wrote

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  • Mj
    Jun 22, 2013 - 7:07PM

    @FAZ:
    That’s a silly response. Nothing would happen to you. Just ask Michael Moore, David Icke, and thousands of ‘truthers’ out there.

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  • Arun Khatri
    Jun 22, 2013 - 7:55PM

    walsh is an MI6/CIA asset. so should stay out.

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  • Msnto
    Jun 22, 2013 - 8:11PM

    Declan…sorry to say, but you had become quite boring and unimaginative in your last years in Pakistan. Try working in some other countries now. Give somebody younger and fresher to come in your place in Pakistan. Thanks.

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  • IC
    Jul 3, 2013 - 10:01AM

    @Mj:
    What about Snowden? Freedom of speech right? All he did was “inform” the the American public. Now he’s on the run. Go figure.

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