Fri, Oct 28, 2016 | updated 01:52 PM IST

Following Cyril Almeida row, U.S. expresses concern over 'freedom of press' in Pakistan

Updated: Oct 12, 2016 09:39 IST
Lahore [Pakistan], Oct. 12 (ANI): With the Pakistan Government placing Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida on the "exit control list (ECL) for his report in on the "confrontation" between its civilian and Army leaderships over Pakistan-based terror groups striking in India and Afghanistan, the United States has expressed its concerns about the difficulties and the dangers that journalists face in Islamabad.

State Department spokesman John Kirby asserted that 'freedom of press' was an issue that the U.S. continues to raise regularly with the Government of Pakistan, including concerns about the difficulties and the dangers that journalists face there.

"We're concerned about any efforts to limit press freedom or the ability of journalists to conduct their very, very important work," Kirby said.

Earlier, Almeida was placed on the exit control list following the writing of an article in which claimed that the civilian government's instructions were being ignored by Pakistan's military leadership.

Almeida said on Twitter that he had been told his name was on the "exit control list", a border control system.

The report, which was published last Friday, prompted threats on social media and was denied three times by the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

"I am told and have been informed and have been shown evidence that I am on the Exit Control List," he tweeted, followed a short time later by "I feel sad tonight. This is my life, my country. What went wrong."

Almeida on October 6th had broken the story of an "unprecedented warning" delivered by the civilian government to the military in the aftermath of India's surgical strikes at a meeting held on October 3 in Islamabad between the two leaderships.

The story also claimed there was a "verbal confrontation" between Prime Minister Sharif's brother and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar over the Army's support given to non-state actors like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

In his report, Almeida said leading civilian officials had warned the powerful army to renounce covert support for proxy fighters such as the Haqqani network allied to the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks -- or face isolation.

On Monday night Dawn's editor, Zaffar Abbas, issued a statement on an official Facebook page standing by a story which he said had been "verified, cross-checked and fact-checked". (ANI)