Reporter Ordered To Leave Pakistan Ahead Of Elections

A New York Times reporter was ordered to leave Pakistan ahead of the country’s elections. The move was announced by the newspaper, who detailed that its Islamabad bureau chief was forced to leave for unspecified “undesirable activities” inside the country.

The Times added that it strongly protested the move to order Declan Walsh to leave and is seeking to have him reinstated.

The Pakistan ministry did not detail the expulsion order, which was delivered by two police officers to Walsh’s home at 12:30 am local time Thursday. The order stated:

“It is informed that your visa is hereby canceled in view of your undesirable activities. You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

The timing of the reporter’s order to leave Pakistan means that Walsh will have to leave on the night of the elections. The event is historic for the country, as it is the first time where one elected civilian government will complete its term and hand power over to another elected government.

Declan Walsh is a veteran correspondent and has worked and lived in Pakistan for nine years. Along with working to the New York Times, Walsh previously was employed by The Guardian. He has written extensively about Pakistan’s violence political confrontations, Islamist insurgency, and tense relations with the United States.

Danielle Rhoades Ha, a company spokeswoman, stated that the Times is protesting the reporter’s order to leave the country. In a letter to Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson wrote, “We respectfully request that you overturn this decision and allow Mr. Walsh to remain in Pakistan.

Abramson added that the accusation of undesirable activities “is vague and unsupported, and Mr. Walsh has received no further explanation of any alleged wrongdoing.”

Advocates for free press in the country expressed their anger at the news of the New York Times reporter being ordered to leave. They added that it reinforced Pakistan’s reputation as very inhospitable to journalists.

[Image via Geoff Livingston]