Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday criticised India for refusing permission to five India-based foreign journalists to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to attend a session of its legislative assembly.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf in separate tweets alleged that free speech and independent journalism was shrinking in India.
Indian authorities declined Pakistan’s request to allow the five journalists to travel to Islamabad through Wagah as the border crossing is virtually closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the development.
The Wagah border crossing point was initially closed for few weeks in March last year and subsequently, the restriction was extended. It is now closed for all other categories of travellers except diplomats and some others.
Qureshi said the denial of permission by India to five international journalists to travel to Pakistan is another damning indication of shrinking space for free speech and independent journalism under a dictatorial regime.
Information Minister Chaudhry in his tweet said that the journalists were to attend a session of PoK assembly on August 5.
“These are actions of an insecure government that has much to hide and doesn’t want the world to see the reality” of Kashmir, Yusuf said.
Protests have been planned in Kashmir and Pakistan on the second anniversary of August 5 when India revoked the special status of its Kashmir in 2019.
India has maintained that the issue related to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was entirely an internal matter of the country.
The newly elected Legislative Assembly has also planned a session on the occasion and the journalists were to witness the proceedings.