PR KARACHI - APNS President Sarmad Ali and Umer Mujib Shami Secretary General, in a joint statement, have condemned the decision of the government to place the name of the Dawn assistant editor in the Exit Control List, demanding immediate reversal of the action.

“The APNS believes that the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the articles 19 and 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan and is one of the basic pillars of a democratic society. The news story published was contradicted by the government repeatedly over the course of last few days. That contradiction was also published prominently in all the major newspapers, including Dawn, and flashed on electronic media as well. Without going into the merits of the contents of the story, it will suffice to say that it should have been the end of the matter. In this day and age where all kinds of unfounded allegations and conspiracy theories find their way to the electronic and social media, singling out a story and making it a reason for not so cordial civil-military relations or blaming it for creating fissures between the same seem absurd to say the least. It is really very disturbing to see a democratic government reacting in an arbitrary manner and opting for “shooting the messenger,” an approach that is reminiscent of an era of oppression and repression which many thought was confined to history books. The government can always take any complaint against the newspaper to the Press Council, a legal forum created for this very purpose rather than acting in a one-sided manner,” Sarmad and Shami affirmed.

“APNS vehemently opposes this approach and reminds the government that print media in this country has always remained the cornerstone of democratic traditions and any attempt to stifle it is in fact an attack on the very foundation of democracy itself. It is demanded that the name of Cyril Almeida be immediately taken out of the ECL and he be allowed to perform his professional duties freely,” they concluded.