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Pakistan denies visas to Kashmir journalists

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | January 03, 2004 16:24 IST
Last Updated: January 03, 2004 16:25 IST

The Pakistan high commission in New Delhi has denied visa to several Kashmir-based journalists who want to cover the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Islamabad.

And this after repeatedly assuring that all Indian journalists would be allowed to visit Islamabad.

The SAARC summit: The Complete Coverage

"I had applied for visa on December 21 through the Ministry of External Affairs," Sushil Vakil, editor, Samachar Post, told rediff.com "I was asked to check with them on December 26. Since then I have been regularly in touch with the external affairs ministry... each time I am asked to revert the next day. A couple of hours before the last Indian Airlines chartered flight was to take off on December 2, I was told that I would not be allowed to go."

Interestingly, the ministry issued him a ticket on December 26. He was supposed to board the January 2 flight.

Asked why he was denied visa, he said: "Because Pakistan does not want to see journalists like myself in Islamabad covering the SAARC summit. They have denied visas to the Kashmir-based journalists because we have been openly writing against them and exposing the Pakistani designs in sponsoring terrorism on Indian soil. We have questioned the Pakistan claim on Jammu and Kashmir."

Samachar Post was one of the first English dailies from the valley before Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee.

Over three hundred Indian journalists have gone to Pakistan to cover the summit.

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