The parliamentary standing committee directive to monitor to Bangladeshi journalists while travelling abroad was actually intended only for journalists travelling to Pakistan on the invitation of the Pakistan government.
Mehjabeen Khaled, member of the parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs admitted that she had raised the issue of monitoring journalists at the committee meeting after finding out some journalists who take part in this tour make statements that undermine Bangladesh.
â€œI felt we should find out if there was a conspiracy going on against the government,â€ she told the Dhaka Tribune.
She added that the recommendations of the standing committee were wrongly interpreted by the foreign ministry to mean all Bangladeshi journalists travelling abroad.
The Pakistan government usually hosts three official trips to Pakistan every year, where mostly journalists, as well as some civil society members, are invited to visit top officials of the Pakistan government, prominent Pakistani media organisations, as well as tourist sites.
A journalist who made the trip in March this year, on condition of anonymity, claimed the Pakistani embassy in Dhaka had asked the Pakistan-bound travel party to say in public that a â€˜genocideâ€™ had not taken place in 1971. The embassy officials however backtracked once members of travelling party reacted strongly to the suggestion.
Earlier, the foreign ministry backed away from its directive to foreign missions to monitor journalists travelling abroad, saying it was â€œnot appropriately coordinated.â€
The ministry admitted that the foreign missions, who would have to monitor activities of Bangladeshi journalists and report back to Dhaka, had no mechanism for surveillance.
Although Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Thursday said he was not aware of any such directive, he added that journalists should support it â€œsince it intends to uphold our national interest.â€
â€œIt is our duty to watch over everyone who travels abroad but that does not mean that we are bringing them under any control mechanism,â€ the minister added.
The parliamentary standing committee on the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed concern over the spread of wrong information about Bangladesh due to the negative activities of the journalists travelling abroad.
The standing committee said journalists should be monitored so that the missions can report to Dhaka if their activities are found to be against the interest of the country.