October 20, 2022

By Xari Jalil


Steven Butler, the Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), once again encountered ‘inconvenience’ at the Lahore International Airport, after he was detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and interrogated. The foreign journalist was confined to one room for around eight hours.

Butler has been invited as a guest for one of the panels in the ‘Asma Jahangir Conference – Crisis of Constitutionalism’ this year, but this is not the first time he has been stopped by the authorities.

In 2019, Butler was invited to the AJ Conference as well, however, after a long flight, after he reached the Lahore Airport, he was detained again and was made to return despite the fact that he had a valid visa. At that time, he was cited as being blacklisted by the Ministry of Interior. Butler had revealed that while his visa was recognized as valid, he was told he was on a no-entry list.

However, it did not stop Butler from speaking at the Conference, and he joined later virtually, where he expressed dismay at being stopped.

Once again in 2022, Steven Butler was invited for the conference, but despite organizers being hopeful for the senior journalist’s smooth entry in the country as a guest, an eight hour grueling interrogation ensued.

Organizer of the AJCONF and Editor in Chief of Voicepk.net, Munizae Jahangir responded by saying that it was sad that a visiting journalist should be stopped under a democratic set-up.

“The Government should ensure that foreign journalists have access to Pakistan and that they can play their role effectively in the cause of freedom of expression,” she said. “However we thank the government for intervening and ensuring that Mr Butler was allowed to go, even though he was delayed for so long, despite being a senior citizen.”

She also added, “The theme of this year’s conference itself was freedom of expression. If they are doing this to a member of a media watchdog what else is left?” she asked.

Other journalists also rallied to condemn the action by the Federal Government.

When he found out, senior journalist Hamid Mir, tweeted

And then later:

Former President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Mazhar Abbas said the incident was ‘shameful’ especially since Butler had a valid visa.

CPJ itself also posted on Twitter about the incident in scathing words:


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