The US has expressed concern over the difficulties and dangers faced by journalists in Pakistan but refrained from commenting on the travel restrictions imposed on a Pakistani scribe for reporting a rift between the civilian and military leaderships. “I’m aware of the reports of restrictions on Mr. (Cyril) Almeida’s travel. I would refer you to the government of Pakistan for information on that,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference on Tuesday.
“On press freedom, it’s obviously an issue that we continue to raise regularly with the government of Pakistan, including our concerns about the difficulties and the dangers that journalists face there,” he said.
“We are concerned about any efforts to limit press freedom or the ability of journalists to conduct their very, very important work,” Kirby said. Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Pakistan to “immediately lift the travel ban” on Almeida.
“Pakistan can be a dangerous place for journalists, but the nation has a proud tradition of a fiercely independent press,” said CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Steven Butler. “Unhappiness with a press report should never be used as an excuse to restrict the freedom of a journalist,” he added.
Under Secretary, State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon held a working lunch with the Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani. There was no readout of the meeting. Almeida, a prominent Pakistani journalist, has been barred from leaving the country after he reported a rift between the civilian and military leaderships over the powerful ISI shielding terror groups like the Haqqani network and LeT that led to Pakistan’s international isolation.