Declan Walsh, The New York Times Pakistan bureau chief, has officially been placed in category A of the Black List (BL), with the government declaring him persona non grata, documents available with The Express Tribune reveal.
According to the letter issued by Shahid Riaz, assistant director (BL Cell) at the directorate general for immigration and passports, Walsh has been blacklisted on the recommendation of the interior ministry and will no longer be able to avail visa facilities without the prior approval of the immigration and passports authority.
Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Information and Broadcasting Minister Pervez Rasheed, Walsh has requested the minister for his assistance in reinstating the visa.
Walsh, who has been covering Pakistan for the New York Times from London, has said in his letter that “The New York Times has been unable to ascertain the reasons for the visa cancellation, other than the “undesirable activities” that were cited in the interior ministry letter. I have been based in Pakistan since 2004 and I hope that my record speaks for itself.”
Unravelling the mystery
According to the contents of a report prepared by an intelligence agency, Walsh was expelled due to false journalism against Pakistan and violating his terms of stay by visiting prohibited areas without a no objection certificate (NOC).
The report says that the journalist has, overtime, produced inaccurate and defamatory pieces about Pakistan with one creating the impression that the country’s nuclear weapons storage areas were being attacked.
In addition, Walsh had also been violating rules and regulations by visiting troubled areas without an NOC.
“…Walsh has frequently been advised to refrain from violating procedures. Nevertheless, disregarding instructions he continued to visit various no-go areas without clearance,” says the report.
The report also states that despite the ministry recommending non-extension of his visa, Walsh had managed to secure a one-year extension using political influence.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2013.