The government of Pakistan is expelling two Indian journalists, a move that New Delhi calls a “retrograde step.”
Press Trust of India‘s (PTI) Snehesh Alex Philip and The Hindu‘s Meena Menon received letters late Tuesday evening from the Pakistan government’s External Publicity Wing notifying them that it would not extend their visas and giving them until May 20 to leave the country.
“We have been given no notice, no reason and no rationale for this virtual expulsion by the Pakistan government that keeps affirming that they want improved relations with India, PTI‘s Editor-in-Chief and CEO M. K. Razdan said.
The move comes days ahead of installation of a new government in India and diplomatic observers say that the Pakistan’s unilateral action will not go down well with New Delhi.
“It is regrettable and unfortunate that the two Indian correspondents in Pakistan have been asked to leave prematurely and suddenly only a few months after their arrival there,” Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
Pakistani authorities have so far made no statement.
Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan reached an agreement 40 years ago that would allow two reporters from each country. India says that allowing journalists would be an important means of building confidence between the two countries.
It was just one year ago that Pakistan also expelled New York Times Islamabad bureau chief Declan Walsh.
“Pakistan’s media community is effectively under siege,” David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director, said in late April on releasing that report. “Journalists, in particular those covering national security issues or human rights, are targeted from all sides in a disturbing pattern of abuses carried out to silence their reporting.”