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Dawn News Stand Cyril Almeida against Nawaz Sharif and Government The Pakistani military stoutly maintains that the Indian Army’s “surgical strikes” on Sept. 29 never happened. Yet, for an alleged non-event, there has been an astonishing amount of fallout within that country.

On Oct. 06 Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most prestigious English daily, published a sensational story headlined: “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military.” Written by Cyril Almeida, the newspaper’s best-known columnist, the story claimed that the Nawaz Sharif government had succeeded in getting the military to acknowledge the need to act against extremist groups employed in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Since then, Almeida has himself become the top story in the country, particularly after the civilian-led interior ministry added his name to the “Exit Control List” (ECL), which bars him from leaving Pakistan.

Sources told TOI that Pakistan’s military was very upset with the Dawn story and prevailed over the Sharif government to even rephrase its initial denial of the Dawn report, which was perceived as too mild. Almeida’s report was published a week after India conducted surgical strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir. The September 29 strikes were in retaliation for the September 18 terrorist attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists.

Observers believe this development doesn’t augur well for the media in Pakistan which has always been relatively robust. Almeida, too, is understandably upset.