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Pakistan Defends Decision To Bar Leading Journalist From Leaving Country

Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida

Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida

The Pakistani government has defended its decision to bar a prominent Pakistani journalist from leaving the country because of an article he wrote about a rift between the government and the military.

Cyril Almeida said on October 11 that he was on Pakistan's exit-control list and is not allowed to travel abroad.

Pakistani Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan told reporters on October 13 that Almeida would not be allowed to leave the country until the completion of a government committee's inquiry into the story, which the authorities claim was fabricated.

The committee will decide if anyone should be prosecuted in relation to the story.

Almeida is a leading columnist and assistant editor at Dawn, one of Pakistan's most-respected English-language dailies.

Human rights activists urged the government immediately to lift travel and other restrictions on Almeida.

Almeida's October 6 story was about a high-level security meeting between military and government officials over the possible arrest of anti-India militant group members that became very intense.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP