Two Indian journalists based in Islamabad have been asked to leave Pakistan in a week’s time after their visas were not renewed for the last two months. No reasons have been given for the move.
The Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi said it had not received any communication from the foreign ministry in Islamabad on this issue. There was no official word from the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi either.
The two journalists, Snehesh Alex Philip from the Press Trust of India and Meena Menon from The Hindu, were “verbally” told by the Pakistani foreign ministry Thursday that they should leave the country “within a week”, it is learnt.
Philip and Menon went to Pakistan in August 2013 and were given visas for three months and they were renewed every three months.
Their visas were valid until March 9 and both journalists had submitted applications to renew them before the expiry date. After the visas expired, they were issued letters stating their visa renewals were being processed. This is standard practice for foreign journalists in Pakistan, it is learnt.
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However, they were called on Thursday and asked to make preparations to leave in a week.
Philip and Menon, it is learnt, asked the officials in the Pakistani foreign ministry to inform them about this “in writing”. However, they had not received any response until Friday evening.
While their visas were not renewed, it is also learnt that Philip’s wife — who had been given a single-entry visa — came back to India in December and had not been given a visa to return to Islamabad to join her husband, sources said.
Pakistan and India have an agreement that each is allowed two journalists in the other’s capital: one from a news agency and the other from a newspaper. There has not been a journalist from Pakistan in Delhi since 2011.