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49 Foreign Journalists Issued Visas for Polls in Pakistan

49 Foreign Journalists

Pakistan has undergone continuous political instability over the past decade. The main reason behind this is recurring political differences between the civilian leadership, the military establishment, and the judiciary. The Election Commission of Pakistan has set February 8, 2024, as the date for the next general election. This is due to the distance from Pakistan’s traditional supporters, the intense economic conditions, and the internal security situation.

On Tuesday, Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi said that some elements spread rumors that “to participate in the general elections, Pakistan will not allow any foreign journalist and commentator.” Which is against the facts.

He was addressing the press conference with many personalities. These include Secretary of Information and Broadcasting Shahra Shahid, Executive Director General External Publicity Wing Ambrin Jaan, Dr. Tariq Mehmood, a Principal Information Officer, and Pakistan Saeed Sheikh, a Director General of Radio.

Murtaza Solangi also said that about 49 visas for Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi were issued today. Thirty-two requests for visa approval from different countries are still pending and being processed.

He said that these 32 visa applications for election coverage were under process and were received at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. This application was being processed due to the manual visa system in India for the issuance of visas.

He said that so far, 174 applications for ECP accreditation cards have been received and processed for foreign media representatives and their associated Pakistani staff based in Pakistan.

49 Foreign Journalists Issued Visas for Polls

In response to a question from the media, he said that many applications are processed in the category of international observers. Only 25 applications from the United Kingdom, 08 from the Russian Federation, 13 from Japan, 02 from South Africa, and 05 from the Commonwealth of Nations are included.

For local Pakistani media houses, Accreditation cards were also processed. Murtaza Solangi said that 6,065 journalists had been processed. This includes 1200 from Lahore, 1470 from Karachi, 1050 from Peshawar, 600 from Quetta, 355 from Hyderabad, 250 from Faisalabad, and 290 from Multan. He said that “the media will go and cover other cities instead of besides Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi.”

“The last date for the visa application was January 20, which has passed. However, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Minister of Information were still receiving visa requests. These requests have been processed daily, “the Minister of Information said.

Ambreen Jan, an executive director general of EP Wing, said that visa applications were received from 14 countries for coverage of elections. She added that 81 journalists from different countries applied for visas. Among them, 49 journalists got their visas while others were in the process.

She said the Election Commission of Pakistan had issued a Code of Conduct for international media and Observers. These codes had been shared with them. She added that 55 applications were received for International Election Observers.

She said the Press Information Department would set up a media cell for election coverage. The purpose of this cell is to provide facilities to the media. This cell will also be operational in the EP Wing to provide facilities to foreign journalists for 24 hours of elections.

Replying to a question, Murtaza Solangi said that “it is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens. The state has to take necessary steps to provide security to the foreign journalists and observers.”

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