Ministers, NSA condemn India for denying foreign journalists permission to visit Pakistan via Wagah

Published August 4, 2021
Pakistan condemns Indian government's decision to not let a group of foreign journalists pass through Wagah border and into Pakistan. — File photo
Pakistan condemns Indian government's decision to not let a group of foreign journalists pass through Wagah border and into Pakistan. — File photo

Senior ministers and national security adviser on Wednesday criticised New Delhi for denying permission to five foreign journalists based in India to visit Pakistan, saying that free speech and independent journalism was shrinking under the "insecure" Indian government.

The statements from Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf surface a day after the Modi-led government, according to The Times of India, declined Pakistan’s request to allow the journalists to travel to Islamabad through Wagah border.

The report says the Wagah border crossing was closed for all travellers, except “diplomats and some others” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a communique sent to the interior ministry by the Foreign Office, seen by Dawn.com, the five foreign journalists included the South Asia bureau chiefs for The New York Times, The Economist, Reuters news agency, ARD German and Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Switzerland.

The journalists were to arrive in Pakistan through Wagah border on August 3 along with Jamil Ahmad Khan Baitu, the press attaché at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, and return to India on August 7.

Reacting to the Indian government’s decision, Qureshi expressed his displeasure, tweeting that the space for independent journalism was shrinking under Modi's “dictatorial regime”.

Chaudhry, also through a tweet, said the journalists were to attend a session of Azad Kashmir Assembly on August 5, as he urged New Delhi to “allow independent Journalists to visit IOK and let them report facts”.

NSA Yusuf also condemned India, saying, “these are actions of an insecure government that has much to hide and doesn’t want the world to see the reality of AJK”.

Yusuf, in a recent interview with India's The Wire, had said a window for improved relationship between Pakistan and India was open but insisted it was India that had to create the “enabling environment”.

The security adviser added that many voices in Pakistan were sure that the incumbent Indian government will not let that happen.

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