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Pak govt denies CNN access to Lal Masjid

world Updated: Jul 13, 2007 19:56 IST
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Pakistan government has barred the US television channel CNN from entering the Lal Masjid complex accusing it of telecasting a "highly biased and misleading" report against the country.

The battered mosque was opened to the media for the first time on Friday after the military operation against militants.

Officials said CNN was denied access to the Lal Masjid for telecasting a "highly biased, inaccurate and misleading report" on Pakistan to create an impression that the country was not doing enough to curb terrorism and extremism.

Nick Robertson of CNN had contacted the Pakistani authorities seeking access to North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Balochistan to do a story highlighting Pakistan's efforts to stamp out terrorism and extremism.

The CNN team was given maximum access and was even provided a helicopter, Dawn quoted an official as saying.

The team conducted dozens of interviews but chose to pick up five negative interviews, including that of former ISI chief Gen (retd) Hameed Gul, Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Amir Mir, he said.

Moreover, the right to reply was also denied to the government when a contact was made to this respect. "We are not a banana republic. If we can give access, we can also deny the same when necessary," the official said.

A CNN spokesperson, on the other hand, said: "The actions by the Pakistan government are regrettable. We remain committed to reporting from Pakistan."