Senior Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida on Monday said he has been barred from leaving the country, days after he wrote a report in Dawn about an exchange between the country's military and civilian leadership. Almeida said he has been put on the country's Exit Control List for the October 6 report, which was titled, "Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military".

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office had issued a statement calling the report "false and fabricated". In the piece, Almeida had written that the government had urged the military to take action against militants in the wake of the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army.

It also said that the civilian government had “in a blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning” explained the country’s current situation of “diplomatic isolation” and that Islamabad’s current talking points on foreign policy were being “met with indifference in major world capitals”.

Senior government officials including Sharif and military officials led by Inter-Services Intelligence chief Rizwan Akhtar met on Monday to discuss the report. The government later issued a statement saying, “The participants were unanimous that the published story was clearly violative of universally acknowledged principles of reporting on National Security issues." It added that Almeida's report "risked the vital state interests through inclusion of inaccurate and misleading contents".

The government's statement said the prime minister had taken serious notice of the violations caused by the newspaper report and that Sharif has ordered “stern action” against those responsible.

The editor of the newspaper, however, said the story was duly verified before publishing.

NOTE: Dawn would like to clarify and state on the record several things. First, this newspaper considers it a sacred oath to its readers to pursue its reporting fairly, independently and, above all, accurately. The story that has been rejected by Prime Minister’s Office as a fabrication was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked.

Second, many at the helm of affairs are aware of the senior officials, and participants of the meeting, who were contacted by the newspaper for collecting information, and more than one source confirmed and verified the details.

Therefore, the elected government and state institutions should refrain from targeting the messenger, and scape-goating the country’s most respected newspaper in a malicious campaign. 

— Editor, Dawn

Pakistan has faced pressure from India to crack down on militant groups working inside its borders since the Pathankot attack in January. Following the attack on an Army base in Uri, Kashmir, on September 18, relations between the countries have deteriorated. India has accused Pakistan of harbouring the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which it says was behind both attacks, though Pakistan has denied the allegations. Both countries have also taken each other on verbally at United Nations meets.

On September 29, India also conducted surgical strikes along “terror launchpads” at the Line of Control, a claim Pakistan has dismissed as overblown.