ISLAMABAD: Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid has asked the interior ministry to review the case of the Islamabad Bureau Chief of `The New York Times’, Declan Walsh, who was expelled by the caretaker government last month.
The minister took action after he received on Saturday a joint letter signed by senior journalists belonging to over a dozen major foreign media organisations, protesting against the expulsion of Mr Walsh and urging the PML-N government to reinstate Mr Walsh’s visa and allow him to return to Pakistan to continue his professional responsibilities.
In reply to a question, Mr Rashid told Dawn that he was unaware of the grounds on which Mr Walsh had been expelled. However, he added, the interior ministry had been asked to review the decision since Mr Walsh had been discharging his professional duties in the country for about 10 years. “We are writing to protest the Pakistani government’s recent move to expel Declan Walsh, without clearly specifying the allegations against him or allowing him an opportunity to respond to them,” says the letter addressed to the information minister.
The joint letter signed by editor-level officials of organisations ABC News, AP, AFP, Al Jazeera, Media Network, BBC, The Economist, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, ITN News, The Los Angeles Times, Spiegel Online and VOA was copied to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, APNS, CPNE, Safma, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontieres.
According to the letter, Mr Walsh was not given any explanation of his alleged wrongdoing despite repeated requests. He was escorted by security forces to the airport in Lahore and forced to fly out of the country on May 12.