37 British journalists issued visas to cover Pakistan elections

A representational image of a press helmet. — Anadolu Agency
A representational image of a press helmet. — Anadolu Agency
  • Visa request for polls’ coverage received from 14 countries.
  • Global observers start arriving in Pakistan as polls inch closer.
  • Pakistani govt says it is committed to free and fair elections.

LONDON: The international observers on the invitation of the caretaker government are set to monitor the February 8 general elections, including dozens of foreign journalists who have also been issued visas for coverage of polls.

The government said the issuance of visas showcases the commitment to ensuring free and fair elections in accordance with the constitutional mandate.

The caretaker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are committed to conducting elections with fairness and adherence to the constitutional mandate, said a source commenting on the visas issued to journalists and observers.

On February 8, Pakistan’s general elections guarantee a prompt and democratic power transition and the state institutions are resolute in guaranteeing free and fair elections and are committed to fulfilling their roles within the constitutional parameters assigned by the government, said the senior government source.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commission in London has granted visas to 37 British journalists, including The Times‘ Christina Lamb, for coverage of the upcoming general elections. Lamb was previously deported from Pakistan and later denied visas over several years. Teams from CNN, Sky, BBC, and ITV are also on their way to Pakistan to cover the electoral proceedings.

Some have already arrived and the remaining are reaching this week. The Telegraph and Channel 4 News teams are set to provide coverage for the polls.

According to the high commission in London, all of them will contribute to ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections, in accordance with the directives of the Pakistani government.

According to a list seen by Geo News, the 37 journalists including Christina Lamb, The Times; David Smallwood, CBC; Ben Famer, The Telegraph; Dominic John, CNN; Krever Mick Brinkman, CNN; Shelley Joanna Marie, CNN; Lynne O’ Donnell, Foreign Policy Magazine; Messey Dean Anthony, Sky News; Steven Harry Gerald, Sky News; Britton Jake Anthony, Sky News; Cordelia Lynch, Sky News; Sharp Duncan, Sky News; Scholes Katherine Victoria, Sky News; Adam Campbell, BBC News; Mohamed Madi, BBC News; Jamie Paul Jones, BBC News; Paul Michael Adams, BBC News: and Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News.

The list also inlcudes Imogen Alexandra Berenice, BBC News; Cunningham Christopher, Sky News; Mockler Richard, Sky News; Crawford Alex, Sky News; Pachael Thorn, Sky News; James Pensley, Sky News; Emma Murphy, ITV; Lucky Watson, ITV;Natalie Wright Producer, ITV; Natasha Tierney, ITV; Mark Nelson, ITV; Kenneth Stewart, Sky News; Stuart Ramsay, Sky News; Dominique Van Heerden F, Sky News; Martin Vowles, Sky News;Toby Nash, Sky News; Millicent Florence Teasdale, Channel 4 News; Freddie Gower, Channel 4 News and John William Bevir, Feature Story.

On Jan 23, caretaker Federal Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi mentioned that 49 visas for Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi had been issued, with 32 requests still under process. The manual visa system in India was causing delays.

Additionally, 174 requests for the electoral authority’s Accreditation Cards for foreign media and their Pakistani staff were processed. There were 25 applications from the UK, eight from Russia, 13 from Japan, two from South Africa, and five from the Commonwealth under the International Observers category.

Ambreen Jan, the Press Information Department executive director general for the External Publicity Wing, stated that visa applications for election coverage were received from 14 countries, with a total of 81 foreign journalists applying.

Out of these, 49 visas have been issued, and the remaining applications are under process. Additionally, there are 55 applications for International Election Observers.

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