The New York Times‘ Islamabad bureau chief has been expelled from Pakistan right before national elections. The two sentence letter delivered to foreign correspondent Declan Walsh accused him of unspecified “undesirable activities,” the Times said Friday.
The ministry did not give any detailed explanation for the expulsion order, which was delivered by police officers in the form of a two-sentence letter to the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, at 12:30 a.m. Thursday local time at his home.
“It is informed that your visa is hereby canceled in view of your undesirable activities,” the order stated. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”
The timing of the order means that Mr. Walsh must exit Pakistan on the night of the elections, the first in the country’s history in which one elected civilian government completes its term and hands over power to another elected government.
The Associated Press has more on Walsh:
Walsh, who worked for The Guardian newspaper of Britain prior to joining the Times, was quoted as saying that his expulsion was “a complete bolt from the blue. I had no inclination that anything of this sort was coming.” He has lived and worked in Pakistan for the past nine years.
In recent days, Walsh reported on political patronage in Pakistan and the fatal shooting of the prosecutor who was investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Saturday’s election marks the first time in Pakistan’s 65-year history that a civilian government has completed a full term and successfully transitioned a new government in democratic elections.
(Photo credit Declan Walsh)