NEW YORK: Pakistan has declined to renew the visas of the only two Indian journalists based there, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a government official. The two have been told they must leave the country within a week, the newspaper said
Meena Menon of the Hindu newspaper and Snehesh Philip of Press Trust of India were informed Thursday by the director of the External Publicity Wing, a department within the Ministry of Information that deals with foreign journalists, that their visas wouldn’t be renewed, the report said.
An official at the External Publicity wing, Altaf Hussain, would say only that a statement about the visas of the two Indian journalists would be forthcoming later from the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
MK Razdan, editor in chief of Press Trust of India, was quoted as saying by the Journal, “We have no confirmation” as of Friday afternoon of the expulsion of the PTI reporter. A senior official at the Hindu wasn’t available for comment, it said. A representative of India’s Ministry of External Affairs said he had no immediate comment.
Pakistan and India have an agreement that each is allowed two journalists in each other’s capital: one from a newswire and the other from a newspaper. There hasn’t been a Pakistani journalist in Delhi since 2011.The Indian journalists arrived in Pakistan in Augt 2013. Their visas were valid until March 9, 2014, and both j had submitted applications to renew their visas. After their original visas expired, they were issued letters stating that their visa renewals were being processed, as is standard practice for foreign journalists.
Ms Menon and Philip were summoned to the External Publicity Wing on Thursday and told to start making preparations to leave within a week, the Journal said.
Meanwhile, Committee to Protect Journalists voiced deep concern over the Pakistam’s move. “Prime Minister Sharif expressed a strong commitment to improving press freedom environment in his meetings with CPJ this year, and he should ensure that visas are renewed for both Ms Menon and Snehesh Alex Philip,” CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Bob Dietz said in a statement.–Special Correspondent