The Pakistan government on Friday lifted a travel ban imposed on journalist Cyril Almeida over a report he wrote about a rift between the civil and military leadership.
The government’s decision followed a meeting between interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and information minister Pervaiz Rashid and representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors.
The government put Almeida’s name in the Exit Control List (ECL) after he filed a report in the Dawn newspaper on October 6 about a tense, high-level meeting between civilian and military leaders during which foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry reportedly said Pakistan was facing growing international isolation for failing to tackle terrorism.
Quoting anonymous sources, the report said civilian officials called for the military not to interfere if law enforcement agencies tried to arrest members of terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Almeida tweeted a photo of an official letter regarding the removal of his name from the ECL.
"All concerned are requested to take immediate action in the matter" - yes, please! pic.twitter.com/nz7AY19G4P— cyril almeida (@cyalm) October 14, 2016
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army’s top commanders on Friday expressed serious concern at the publication of a “false and fabricated story” about an important security meeting held at the Prime Minister’s House “in a national English language daily”.
Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif chaired the conference of the Corps Commanders at the General Headquarters, during which participants said they viewed the report as a “breach of national security”, according to the military’s media wing.
The commanders carried out a review of the internal and external security situation, with “particular focus on the prevailing situation on the Line of Control and army’s operational preparedness”, the military said.
On Thursday, the interior minister had defended the imposition of the travel ban and told reporters that Almeida would not be allowed to leave Pakistan until the completion of a government committee’s inquiry into the report. The committee will decide if anyone is to be prosecuted for the story, he added.
The government denied the report three times but the Dawn stood by the story and Almeida, a columnist and assistant editor at Pakistan’s most influential English daily. He also received support from other media organisations and rights groups in Pakistan and abroad.