ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani government ordered the Islamabad bureau chief for the New York Times to leave the country on the eve of landmark parliamentary elections, according to the newspaper’s website.
Declan Walsh, 39, was told early Thursday morning that his visa was being canceled and that he had to leave the country within 72 hours, the paper’s website reported. A group of police delivered Walsh a letter from the Interior Ministry telling him that his visa was being revoked “in view of your undesirable activities.”
Pakistan’s parliamentary and provincial assembly elections on Saturday mark the first democratic transition of one civilian government to another in a country with a long history of military coups and political ousters.
Walsh has lived and worked in Pakistan for the last nine years. He worked for Britain’s Guardian newspaper as its Islamabad bureau chief before joining the New York Times in January 2012. The New York Times’ website said Executive Editor Jill Abramson submitted a letter of protest to Pakistan’s interior minister, Malik Muhammad Habib Khan, asking for the reinstatement of Walsh’s visa and calling him “a reporter of integrity who has at all times offered balanced, nuanced and factual reporting on Pakistan.” She called the rationale for ministry’s order “vague and unsupported.”