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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 November 2007, 16:08 GMT
Pakistan orders UK reporters out
Pakistani soldier
Pakistan has been under a state of emergency for a week
Three reporters from the Telegraph newspaper group have been ordered to leave Pakistan within 72 hours.

Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim Khan said Isambard Wilkinson, Colin Freeman and Damien McElroy were told to leave because of "offensive" coverage.

President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency a week ago, blaming militant violence and interference by the judiciary.

The Telegraph said it was trying to establish the facts of the situation.

Mr Khan said the foreign journalists had been using "foul and abusive language" against Pakistan and Pakistan's leadership.

They were using foul and abusive language against Pakistan and Pakistan's leadership
Tariq Azim Khan
Deputy Information Minister

Mr Khan did not specify which article had prompted the expulsion, but an editorial on the Telegraph website prompted a response from the press officer of the Pakistan embassy in London on Friday.

The editorial, which was titled Bankrupt Relationship, described Gen Musharraf's rule as a "combination of incompetence and brutality".

A comment beneath the editorial from Imran Gardezi at the Pakistan High Commission said: "The language used for the President of Pakistan in your leading article is offensive and flouts the norms of decent journalism.

"For a newspaper of the Daily Telegraph's reputation to resort to such derogatory language is highly regrettable.

"This deserves an apology."

Media freedom 'essential'

Under the state of emergency, the Pakistani constitution has been suspended, while opposition supporters have been arrested, Supreme Court justices replaced, and mass public gatherings banned.

A media blackout is still in force. International channels like the BBC and CNN were allowed back on air on Thursday, but have since been blocked.

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was released from house arrest on Saturday and joined a rally by journalists against the partial news blackout.

The Foreign Office said it was aware that three journalists had been advised to leave Pakistan and it was seeking clarification.

It added: "We believe media freedom is essential to economic and social development and stability, and actively support the evolution of a free and fair press in Pakistan."

It is believed two of the journalists work for the Daily Telegraph and one for the Sunday Telegraph.

A spokeswoman for the Telegraph group said there was no comment at this stage, but a statement was expected later.



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