ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) the name of Cyril Almeida, the Dawn journalist whose story on a high-profile security meeting has forced the government to initiate an inquiry to identify the person responsible for its leak.

The decision was taken by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan during a meeting with senior office-bearers of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) here on Friday.

The minister reiterated the government’s full support for the freedom of press and independence of media and ordered the removal of Mr Almeida’s name from the ECL as a goodwill gesture.

“Removal of the name of the journalist would in no way affect the ongoing inquiry into the matter and the inquiry would continue to its logical conclusion,” the minister said.

He insisted that the news report was “inaccurate and fabricated”.

Corps Commanders express concern over ‘feeding’ of fabricated story of an important security meeting held at PM House

Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid and Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin Ali Khan were present at the meeting. The media delegation consisted of APNS president Sarmad Ali, CPNE president Zia Shahid, APNS secretary general Umar Shami, CPNE secretary general Aijazul Haq and senior journalists Arif Nizami and Mujeebur Rahman Shami.

Chaudhry Nisar told the delegation that independent media must play its role not only in safeguarding the national interest and security but also countering the negative propaganda of the enemies of the state. Unverified and speculative news items on national security issues citing unnamed sources which crossed ethical boundaries of responsible journalism must be avoided, he added.

The issue was discussed not only at the meeting between the interior minister and the APNS-CPNE delegation but was also deliberated upon at a Corps Commanders conference.

According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations, the participants of the Corps Commanders conference on Friday expressed serious concern over feeding of false and fabricated story of an important security meeting held at the Prime Minister House and viewed it as breach of national security.

Moreover, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told a press briefing that the story by the Dawn journalist was based on assumptions. “Pakistan is not being isolated internationally. It is just propaganda,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2016