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Pakistan puts Dawn's Cyril Almeida on exit control list for writing of govt-army rift

A prominent journalist has been barred from leaving Pakistan after he reported on a suspected rift between civilian and military leaderships during a crucial meeting in which the ISI was told its support for terrorist groups was leaving the country globally isolated.

Cyril Almeida, a columnist and reporter for the Dawn, tweeted that he has been told he has been put on 'Exit Control List' — a system of border control maintained by Pakistan government under an ordinance which allows it to bar people whose names appear on the list from leaving the country.

"Puzzled, saddened. Had no intention of going anywhere; this is my home. Pakistan," Almeida tweeted.

In one of his tweets, he also claims that the Pakistani immigration officers are asked to be on a lookout for him.

The Exit Control List is a system of border control maintained by the Government of Pakistan under the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance.

Almeida's story about the “unprecedented” showdown between the Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, and the army’s spy chief General Raheel Sharif triggered a controversy when it was published on 6 October.

Almeida was booked on a Tuesday morning flight to Dubai for a holiday with family. But on Monday evening he received word that he would not be allowed to board the plane.

Dawn’s editor Zaffar Abbas posted on Facebook, defiantly defending the newspapers position.

The development came less than a week after he wrote a front-page story in the daily about a rift between Pakistan's civilian and military leaderships over militant groups that operate from Pakistan but engage in war against India and Afghanistan.

On 6 October, Almeida, citing sources, reported in the widely-read daily that the civilian government has told the
military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan due to alleged support for militancy.

Pakistan government has thrice denied the story since.

The Foreign Office vehemently rejected the report and termed it "speculative". On Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered authorities to take "stern action" against those responsible for publishing the "fabricated" story.

"Prime Minister took serious notice of the violation and directed that those responsible should be identified for stern action," according to an official statement.

Almeida's scoop came amidst a backdrop of heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the attack on an Indian army base in Uri on 18 September in which 19 soldiers were killed by Pakistan-backed terrorists from the
Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit.

On 29 September, India carried out "surgical strikes" on seven terror launch pads across the LoC, and the Army said it had inflicted "significant casualties" on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has denied the surgical strike by India but has claimed two of its soldiers were killed in alleged ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops.

Various senior journalists stood in support of Almeida and criticised Pakistani government's actions. #StandWithCyril was seen trending.

Also read: Grounded Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida has Goan roots

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 11, 2016 17:48:27 IST