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Pakistan: Political parties slam deportation of US journalist
Political parties in Pakistan have criticised the deportation of Nicholas Schmidle, an American journalist. Schmidle had written how the Taliban in Pakistan easily carried out barbaric activities, due to the government leniency.
POLITICAL PARTIES in Pakistan have strongly condemned the deportation of a reputed American journalist, Nicholas Schmidle, by the local authorities.
Schmidle was 'punished' for a detailed article he wrote about the Taliban's presence in Pakistan and how they are easily able to carry out their barbaric activities, in the face of a lenient government. Schmidle's deportation comes on the heels of a report by Reporters Sans Frontier (RSF) that described Pakistan as "the most dangerous Asian country for the media in 2007."
The RSF also observed that the climate of extreme censorship prevents the media from carrying out a satisfactory coverage of the upcoming elections on February 18.
The RSF also said that the year 2007 has particularly been a bad year for Pakistani journalists as six of them lost their lives in the line of duty, while 30 were seriously injured in various incidents including police clampdown.
Describing the deportation of the American journalist as "outrageous," Sherry Rehman, central information secretary of Pakistan Peoples Party said that despite the lifting of the so-called emergency, the regime continues to hound media on one pretext or the other. "Schmidle's deportation is the continuation of a deliberate policy of persecuting the media since his article comprehensively detailed the intricacies of the establishment-Taliban nexus that has resulted in the strong presence of the Taliban across the length and breadth of the country."
Rehman said that the ill treatment meted out to the American journalist is one more reminder of the fact that an authoritarian leadership never has tolerance for independent voices.
"How many people can they continue to deport and arrest? The fact is that the country is at its lowest ebb and questions raised about its stability have never sounded as strong as they do today.
PPP also deplored the mass arrests of journalist after the Dec 27 violence. "We have noticed that out of the 34 journalists booked for rioting in Sindh, 19 were from Daily Kawish or the television station KTN.
Many of them have been critical of the regime and they have been falsely implicated on charges of rioting so that they could be taught a lesson. According to the RSF, ten have already been arrested and face the possibility of long jail terms under an anti-terrorism law. We, at the PPP, are very concerned for their safety."
Demanding immediate release of the arrested journalist, and lifting of the ban on the entry of foreign journalists to the country, Rehman said that the party stands with the media in their struggle for freedom.
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