Barkha Dutt’s complaint on twitter got the attention of the Pakistani establishment.
In the past few days, India-based journalists have found it impossible to get a visa to go to Pakistan and cover the fallout of the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
But a complaint on Twitter by NDTV’s Barkha Dutt apparently got the attention of the Pakistani establishment and now Islamabad is loosening up.
Twitter diplomacy, dare I say?
Ms. Dutt expressed her irritation on Twitter on May 3, writing, “Hugely frustrated at not being able to report the osama story from Pakistan. If someone can beam me up or get me a visa am eternally yours.”
That plea ricocheted around the micro-blog site and responses poured in from supportive fans and heckling detractors alike.
Then, the next day, Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, seemingly came to the rescue. “Madam Barkha Dutt, pl inform me who has rejected your visa. There r no such visa restrictions imposed by the Govt.,” he tweeted. “Please approach Mr. Shahid Malik, Pak High Commissioner in New Delhi, with my reference.”
A spokesman for Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi would not comment on the Twitter exchange, but acknowledged that Pakistan has revised its policy toward India-based journalists in recent days.
“We were not issuing visas before as per the policy of the government—but we will be starting Monday,” the spokesman said.
In the days immediately after the raid on bin Laden, journalists in New Delhi who were hoping to head to Pakistan—even those who regularly travel there—had difficulty getting new visas. But journalists who already had visas for Pakistan were able to travel there freely.
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Why was Pakistan blocking visas in the first place? It isn’t clear. Maybe Islamabad didn’t want a bunch of nosey Indian scribes poking around in Abbottabad? Or maybe there was some miscommunication between the interior ministry and the high commission amid the confusion of the bin Laden raid?
Either way, making a fuss on Twitter turned out to be more effective than arguing with bureaucrats in person.
Follow Mr. Sharma on Twitter @AmolSharmaWsj.
Fuente: India Real Time