Cyril Almeida

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Cyril Almeida
Born
Karachi
Nationality Pakistan
EducationB.A. in Jurisprudence
Alma materUniversity of Oxford, Lahore University of Management Sciences
OccupationJournalist
EmployerDawn
Known for2019 World Press Freedom Hero
ChurchCatholic
Personal details
DenominationCatholicism

Cyril Almeida is a Pakistani Journalist who serves as the assistant editor and columnist for Dawn.[1] Born and raised in Karachi, Almeida received his B.A from LUMS and studied jurisprudence as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.[2][3][4]

Almeida was barred from leaving Pakistan after he wrote a news article after 2016 India–Pakistan military confrontation, and hinted at a rift between Pakistan's civilian and military leadership.[5] Reportedly, he was put on the Exit Control List.[6] However, after three days of criticism by media and human rights groups, his name was lifted from exit control list on 14 October 2016.[7][8]

Life and career[edit]

Almeida belongs to a community of Goan Catholics who migrated to Karachi more than a hundred years ago. His family is said to speak Konkani at home. Many members of the community left for western countries after the Partition, but about 15,000 members still live in Pakistan.[1] Reportedly, he first visited Goa, India in 2012 to participate in an arts and literary festival, and then followed it up with two more visits.[1]

He earned an undergraduate degree in economics from the Lahore University of Management Sciences in 2003. He was a Rhodes Scholar in 2004 and received a second BA in jurisprudence from Oxford University.[9]

After studying in England, Almeida returned to Karachi. He practised law for about a year and changed careers to become a journalist with Dawn.[10] In 2013 he was promoted to Assistant Editor of Dawn.[11] He is also an occasional contributor to other news media.[12]

2016 Travel ban[edit]

In October 2016, Dawn published a front-page article by Almeida, which said that some in the Pakistan's civilian government confronted military officials at a top-secret national security Committee meeting. They said that they were being asked to do more to crack down on armed groups, yet, whenever law-enforcement agencies took action, "the security establishment ... worked behind the scenes to set the arrested free". He reported that the civilians warned that Pakistan risked international isolation if the security establishment didn't crack down on terrorist groups operating from Pakistan.[13][14][15]

Following the news article published, both the offices of Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif denied the version of events printed in the article and called it as fabricated story.[16] Sharif ordered authorities to take action against those responsible for publishing what he termed as a "fabricated" story about the military and ISI after the Pakistan's chief of army staff Raheel Sharif called on him to discuss national and regional security issues.[17]

Dawn said that the Cyril Almeida report was "verified, cross-checked and fact-checked" and it stood by the story. The Editor-in-Chief of Dawn urged the government to refrain from "scapegoating" the newspaper in a "malicious campaign".[5][18] Another Pakistani daily, The Nation, backed Cyril Almeida's right to write and questioned the government's ability to monopolise the discourse on "national interest". It also questioned why action against Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed should be considered danger to "national security".[19][20]

On 14 October 2016, the government decided to remove his name from the exit control list.[21] Military sources said that they were not angry with Almeida but they were worried about government officials leaking details of the meeting. The army maintained that it was a "false and fabricated story" and it represented a breach of national security.

On 29 October 2016, the government held Pervez Rasheed, the minister for information, responsible for leaking the information that led to Cyril Almeida's news report. The minister was made to resign.[22]

2018 treason charges[edit]

On 12 May 2018, Cyril Almeida published an interview of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, where Shaif is reported to have said, in connection with the trial of the accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks:

Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?

After the interview was published, the Pakistan Press Council issued a notice to Dawn stating that it published information that "may bring into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its sovereignty or integrity as an independent country." The distribution of the newspaper was subsequently blocked in parts of the country. Scholar Madiha Afzal states that the Pakistani military was behind the efforts of censorship.[23]

In September 2018, Azhar Siddiqui, a lawyer, petitioned the Lahore High Court, accusing Nawaz Sharif and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of treason. He alleged that Abbasi had leaked the minutes of the National Security Council to Sharif, whose statement contained such information. Almeida was asked to appear before the court and, when he failed to appear in three sittings, a non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against him. He was also placed on the Exit Control List, banning travel abroad. It was unclear whether the treason charges also applied to Almeida.[24][25][26][27]

Award[edit]

In April 2019 Almeida was named the International Press Institute's 2019 World Press Freedom Hero.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c D. P. Satish (11 October 2016), "Grounded Pakistani Journalist Cyril Almeida Has Goan Roots", News18, retrieved 11 October 2016
  2. ^ "Cyril Almeida's principled patriotism - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  3. ^ [files.rhodesscholarshiptrust.com/enews1/CompleteListofRhodesScholars.xls "List of Rhodes Scholars - The Rhodes Trust"] Check |url= value (help).
  4. ^ "Dawn's Cyril Almeida is only the latest victim of Nawaz Sharif's dangerous game with the Pakistani army". Quartz. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida 'barred from leaving country'". BBC News. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Pakistan cracks down against journalist Cyril Almeida over rift with army controversy". The Financial Express. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  7. ^ Pakistan lifts travel ban on journalist whose scoop angered army, The Guardian, 14 October 2016.
  8. ^ Government decides to strike Cyril’s name off ECL
  9. ^ Goa Arts and Literary Festival 2013
  10. ^ Ahsan Butt (3 September 2009), "A Conversation With Dawn Editorial Writer And Op-Ed Columnist Cyril Almeida", Asian Correspondent, retrieved 11 October 2016
  11. ^ The Guardian 14 May 2013
  12. ^ Al Jazeera 6 May 2013
  13. ^ "Pakistan: Cyril Almeida of Dawn 'on Exit Control List'". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Sharif govt puts scribe who reported on rift with Pak army on 'Exit Control List' - Times of India". The Times of India. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  15. ^ Salman Masood (11 October 2016), "Reporter Who Wrote of Military Civilian Clash Says He Can't Leave Pakistan", The New York Times (Asia Pacific ed.), retrieved 11 October 2016
  16. ^ "Dawn's Almeida placed on ECL". The Nation. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida banned from leaving Pakistan after report on civilian govt-military meet". The Indian Express. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  18. ^ Story rejected by PM Office was fact-checked: Dawn newspaper, Daily Pakistan, 11 October 2016.
  19. ^ How Is Action On Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed Danger To Security, Asks Pak Daily, NDTV News, 13 October 2016.
  20. ^ How to Lose Friends And Alienate People, The Nation, 12 October 2016.
  21. ^ Government lifts travel ban on Cyril Ameida, The Express Tribune , 14 October 2016.
  22. ^ Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed asked to step down amid Dawn story probe, Dawn, 30 October 2016.
  23. ^ Madiha Afzal, Pakistan’s censorship model: An image- and identity-obsessed country, Brookings Institution, 30 May 2018.
  24. ^ LHC issues Cyril Almeida’s non-bailable arrest warrant, The Express Tribune, 25 September 2018.
  25. ^ Pak Journalist Whose Reports Angered Army To Be Arrested For Treason, NDTV News, 25 September 2018.
  26. ^ Lahore court issues arrest warrant against Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida, places him on no-fly list, The Indian Express, 25 September 2018.
  27. ^ Court issues non-bailable arrest warrants for Cyril Almeida, Sama, 24 September 2018.
  28. ^ Al Jazeera 25 April 2019