July 8, 2013
His Excellency Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Office of the Prime Minister
Via facsimile: +92-51-2852663
Via email: [email protected]
Dear Prime Minister Sharif:
We are writing to express our deep concern about the expulsion of at least three foreign journalists from Pakistan. While Pakistan remains a dangerous country for journalists, we are concerned that it is also fast becoming inhospitable to international correspondents.
As you may know, shortly before your election victory in May, The New York Times' Islamabad bureau chief, Declan Walsh, was unexpectedly expelled from the country under the interim government. Despite protests by the editors of more than a dozen prominent international news outlets, Pakistani authorities have not allowed Walsh permission to return to his post.
Also recently, the two sole Indian correspondents based in Pakistan, Anita Joshua of The Hindu and Rezaul Hasan Laskar of the Press Trust of India, were asked to leave Pakistan after being denied extensions to their visas. In addition, the journalists who are slated to succeed Joshua and Laskar at the end of their expected reporting tenures in Islamabad are still awaiting clearance to enter Pakistan. They applied for visas more than a year ago.
While we are cognizant of the sensitive relations between your country and neighboring India, the expulsions of the only two Indian journalists in Pakistan runs counter to your recent overtures to Delhi following your election victory. Foreign journalists like Walsh, Joshua, and Laskar provide millions around the world with a deeper understanding of the events in your country.
Your election marks a historic moment in Pakistani history as the first complete democratic transition of power. We hope you will continue your commitment to democracy in Pakistan. One way to demonstrate this would be to ensure that foreign journalists enjoy full access to freely report in Pakistan, without the threat of expulsion. We urge you to use your mandate to reinstate these journalists and grant clearances to their successors.