ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoIB) has expressed concerns over the failure of the interior ministry to seek its endorsement while issuing visas to foreign journalists, granting extensions to them and cancelling them.
The MoIB has taken up the issue with the interior ministry in the wake of expulsion of Declan Walsh, the bureau chief of New York Times, from the country.
In a letter sent to the interior ministry on Tuesday, the MoIB observed that the former had bypassed the Rules of Business 1973 under which visa-related matters of foreign journalists were to be routed through the external publicity wing of the information ministry.
Referring to the case of Mr Walsh, the letter said he was granted extension in visa after expiry of his eighth extension on Jan 11 without endorsement of the information ministry and later the extension was cancelled without consulting the ministry.
It asked the interior ministry to explain why it had bypassed the MoIB while granting extension to the visa and later cancelling it.
Mr Walsh was handed over a note issued by the interior ministry on May 9, two days before general elections, and asked to leave the country in 72 hours. The note said his visa had been cancelled because of his ‘undesirable activities’ but offered no explanation.
Mr Walsh had been working in Pakistan since 2004.