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Pakistan lifts travel ban on leading journalist

October 14, 2016

Pakistan on Friday lifted a travel ban imposed on a leading journalist for reporting that civilian officials had clashed with the country’s powerful military over its alleged covert support for militants.

“It has been decided to delete the name of Cyril Almeida…from the Exit Control List,” an official memorandum issued by the ministry of the interior and obtained by AFP said.

No further details were given on what prompted the government to remove Almeida’s name.

Islamabad’s interior minister on Thursday branded Almeida’s report — which sparked an uproar with its claims that top officials had warned the army to stop supporting proxy fighters abroad — the “narrative of our enemies”.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan added that an inquiry was being held into whether the journalist should be prosecuted.

Amnesty International slammed the ban as “crude” and called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to “remember his promise” to improve conditions for journalists.

For years Pakistan has been accused of cracking down on only those Islamist groups which have turned their guns inward towards the state, while harbouring those who fight abroad for its strategic ends.

Pakistan is routinely ranked among the world’s most dangerous for journalists, and reporting critical of the military is considered a major red flag, with journalists at times detained, beaten and even killed.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.