Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar’s love for the camera is a blessing upon journalists, and Thursday's press conference proved no exception; where the Minister set out to explain his outrage and defend his decision to add to the population of the Exit Control List, one Mr Cyril Almeida, Dawn journalist.

The conference started with a round of self-congratulation, as Chaudhry Nisar expounded on the improvements made to the CNIC and passport issuing system. Turning to the issue at hand, Mr Nisar sought to elaborate why the highly sensitive story was untrue and yet, also why it had to be thoroughly investigated and the "leak" found.

Mr Nisar should have stopped there, or somebody else should have thrown themselves on the minister to provide protective cover, for his next few sentences were even more unfortunately worded. “This is the narrative of our enemies, and as a Pakistani, it is our responsibility to not publish it,” he told a roomful of journalists, sworn to uphold the public interest.  “If I was to tell you that Pakistan is going to sell its nuclear arsenal out of economic need, would you publish it?” Such cringe-inducing comparisons are best not made, especially not to a room full of journalists, and especially not by the person of the Interior Minister.

However, to respond to the rhetorical question posed by the minister, yes, that story would be published, and yes it should be published. Journalists are bound to report the news, not to pander to the ever-shifting notion of ‘national interest’. Especially as it has been the 'national interest' which has at times cost us elected governments; which the Minister would do well to remember.

The travel ban on Mr Almeida was lifted just one day after the Interior Minister breathed fire at his press conference. This is good news, but perhaps it is too little, too late. The government's treatment of Mr Almeida has been inked in history, Mr Nisar has been unable to identify the "leak" independently, and no regret has been expressed. It would have been better for all concerned if the government had stuck to one rebuttal, and exerted itself in private to find the "leak" that concerns it so. Rather than embarrassing itself flailing about in public.