Cyril Almeida may have seen it coming. The senior journalist from the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, has been barred from leaving his home country. He was put on the “exit control” list after writing a report describing an exchange in which the Pakistani Government apparently told military chiefs that the country would face international isolation if homegrown militants were not controlled.
Two years ago, at the Goa Arts and Literary Festival, Indian journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Samar Halarnkar joined Almeida on a panel discussion. The topic concerned the threats that had emerged to the media in India and Pakistan.
On being asked about the situation in Pakistan, Almedia had said that it been a particularly bad year for the media in Pakistan referring to the shooting of Hamid Mir, one of the country’s most famous journalists in April 2014. He also spoke about the media’s reluctance to show solidarity when, in the same month, the ISI had asked for GEO News, the country’s No. 1 news channel, to be shut down following criticism of the intelligence agency.
Sardesai spoke about how journalists in Pakistan have been braver than their Indian counterparts in the last 10 years, because they frequently face death threats. He went on to describe the difficulty of owning and running an independent news channel when 95% of the revenue came from advertising, and channels were completely reliant on cable distributors which were often run by political parties. He pointed to the Akali Dal's ownership of cablenetworks in Punjab, preventing any negative coverage of the party from being aired in the state.