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October 14, 2016

‘Reporter, whistle-blower can’t leave for abroad unless probe completed’

Top Story

October 14, 2016

Nisar says national security compromised

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar on Thursday said the enemies of Pakistan benefited from Cyril Almeida’s concocted news report, helping them prepare a “charge sheet” against Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference here at the Nadra Headquarters, the minister said Almeida’s presence in the country was a must, as he was required to face an inquiry into an issue of national security.persons, who were part of the matter, would also not be allowed to go abroad unless they faced the inquiry.

“If Cyril Almeida had not booked a flight for abroad, his name would not have been put on the Exit Control List. Not a single Pakistani should be added to the ECL without a thorough investigation,” the minister reiterated.

A high-level security meeting was convened recently which agreed that an inquiry must be carried out, as the news story had dealt a blow to the national security, he said.“It was pertinent that the ‘whistle-blower’ must be identified,” he stressed.

According to the journalist, all the participants of the meeting contacted him and denied the report, Nisar claimed.He said the issue grew only because the journalist was adamant about what he had reported and stood by the story even when all the stakeholders had informed him about their denial.

A committee has been formed to probe the report and the investigation would be completed within three to four days, he announced.Answering a question about Almeida’s addition to the ECL, the federal minister said at around 5:00pm, he got to know that the journalist was set to leave for Dubai at 9:00pm.

When a meeting earlier that day decided to hold an inquiry, it was pertinent that the central character of the issue, the journalist, be stopped from leaving, he said.However, the minister said the journalist was a free man in the country and could exercise all his rights as the restriction was in force until the completion of the probe.

He further said the name of the reporter would not have been put on the ECL if he was not to fly abroad before the completion of the inquiry.Nisar said India benefited from the news story to further its anti-Pakistan propaganda in the world.

He said after the news came, the matter should have ended but Cyril Almeida tweeted: “I stand by every word written.”He said Cyril Almeida himself stated that when he checked with sources, they denied the story but the news was still published by Dawn.

“At present, Cyril is a free man and there will be no pressure on him. However, during the inquiry he would be asked about the evidence available to the government about the story.”

He said the narrative given in the story was of enemies as one can see from the coverage of Indian electronic media and others like the Hindustan Times, The Times of India and The Hindu.“National security was compromised because of the story. Cyril Almeida was put on the ECL as he was booked to catch a flight for abroad without taking part in the inquiry. If he had gone abroad, then the government would have been blamed that it allowed him to go,” he added.

The minister said the US courts had ruled that if a national security matter was involved, then the media had to reveal the source. However, he said the media considered that its sources should be protected, but at least the government could verify the facts of a news story.

The minister said he respected the media freedom and he would be the last person to undermine it.He said the newspaper repeatedly plainly refused to publish a clarification issued by the government.

Asked about an unknown military source that stated that the army had nothing to do with putting Cyril’s name on the ECL, he said the source should come forward and then he will respond on the issue.

The minister said he would meet the representatives of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) on Friday (today) to discuss the issue.