Freedom of press or expression is worsened in Balochistan: Zar khan Baloch
Interviewed by: Yousaf Ajab Baloch
Zar khan Baloch is Director News in Vash-TV, the first Balochi language TV channel. He hosts the current affairs program “Central Point”. Zar Khan Baloch was especially interviewed for the readers of Bolan Voice.
(Blv stands for Bolan Voice and ZK for Zar Khan Baloch)
Blv: How do you see freedom of expression in Pakistan?
ZK: If we take a review of freedom of expression in Pakistan, so reality seems contrary to the claims of this state’s institutes. If we speak about state system, hence Pakistan isn’t a welfare country, and no one can deny this truth. If the state, which is base of all things, isn’t sound then how institutes of this can be righteous? The freedom of expression is fundamental right of human beings, which isn’t granted to this state’s citizens. We analogue our state with developed world, it can easily be guessed that how people have right of expression and unfolding the flaws of society, because if problems underlined, then its disposition certainly can be found, this way they have developed and living prosperous lives. If true occurrences be hushed-up, resultantly society remains lagged to rest of the world, and problems go in pending instead of getting disposed off.
When we take a glimpse at freedom of press or expression in Pakistan, so it is worsened in Balochistan, according to the report 2011, more than 10 journalists have been targeted or firstly, they were abducted and then killed and dumped. It proves that journalism is a herculean task and lives of journalists are at risk, mainly those who are working in field.
Blv: Being an anchor person pioneer Balochi channel, how do you see the political situations of Balochistan?
ZK: We regularly discuss the political issues of Balochistan; for understanding political issues of Balochistan, we must go through history. When Balochistan was annexed with Pakistan against the will of Baloch nation by power, since then Agha Abdul Karim’s movement up to now, in this region’s politics sundry leaps and ebbs occurred. We saw the resolute commitment of Baloch nationalist with parliamentarian politics, and withstanding this, we also observed armed struggle movement, too. If we see the situation of Balochistan, unfortunately, it proves that state authorities have never tried to comprehend Baloch issue seriously. It seems that deliberately, Balochistan is being pushed in such a swamp from where Baloch can never come to the negotiation table. In Baloch politics, we find two schools of thoughts; first who believe in parliamentary politics and struggle to attain Baloch rights remaining within Pakistani boundary, and the second one believes in only freedom from Pakistan the panacea of problems of entire Baloch Nation, hence, these thoughts classify discussed nation’s politics in two parts. Anyhow, political groups have their own policies, but here common Baloch face hardships, because the repercussions of Baloch politics impact on opposition, hence she is also retaliating and resultantly Balochistan’s masses are being deprived of their fundamental rights, like health, educational facilities and so on, which can help them to be a developed community. Due to this attitude Baloch people are kept backward and confronting countless obstacles to stand with advanced nations.
Blv: Why the main stream media is silent about “Kill and dump” of Baloch journalist?
ZK: If we talk about national media, so each media channel or newspaper has its own policy, if they do not cover Balochistan, hence it can be part of their policy, on the other hand, the main factor behind this can be that they have to run their newspapers or channels, because they are needed of financial support and advertisements. Moreover, even for running a magazine you are needed of advertisements and financial support, therefore, this aspect also can be their compulsion, too. Focusing Balochistan’s situations may create hurdles for them, and they may not be given advertisements to run their newspapers or TV channels. Secondly, Balochistan is not part of their policy to be focused or covering it cannot benefit them in any shape. Thirdly, we see political influence in the media, so it is very tough to highlight Baloch issue and Balochistan.
Blv: What remarkable efforts have your channel made to highlight human rights abuses in Balochistan?
ZK: In entire current affair program, we try to highlight the case of Baloch Missing Persons and the receiving of bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch Missing Persons. Currently, Balochistan is suffering the worst in human crisis in mankind history. In fact, remaining in Pakistan’s framework and discussing Balochistan subject is not an easy task, however we discuss this human tragedy and try to find out any solution of it. Despite, these difficulties and problems if you watch news and current affair programs, so you can see arguments related to political, educational, health and human rights about wretched province. We consider it our responsibility to discuss Baloch issues and problems concerned to Balochistan, so as to bring-up such issues on national level and fill-up the vacuum of discussion regarding Baloch issue.
Blv: What do you feel for your fellow journalists being killed in Balochistan?
ZK: Presently, in Balochistan, the practicing professional duties are very difficult for journalists, political workers and human rights activists. No doubt, it is a downbeat attitude and it mustn’t be applied on human beings in civilized society. It comes in the category of human rights abuse and every one condemns it.
Blv: We see Baloch media whether it is print or electronic but undergoing the financial crisis because the other institutions of state avail Baloch resources but Baloch media is deprived of these privileges?
ZK: You have raised a very good question, If we talk about Baloch and Balochistan, as I have already discussed that there is domination of anti Baloch behaviors in social, political and media institutions of the state. It is clear, when you make endeavor for Baloch rights, then intentionally you will be kept backward or if you are involved in media institution, then your advertisements are to be stopped and you have to face financial crisis.
Blv: In eastern Balochistan, we find a cultural exploitation, so regarding this, what your channel is doing to resurrect Baloch culture?
ZK: As for as promotion of Baloch culture, for last three years we have been celebrating “Baloch Culture day” on 2nd March, as well on this date every year we arrange cultural shows. Secondly, many things come in culture such as language, dress, rituals, and tradition; we try to show these all aspects which can be helpful to promote Baloch culture. Though we are facing problems because of limitation in resources, but we are trying to promote Baloch, Baloch culture and Balochistan.
Blv: Do you feel discrimination with Baloch journalists in Pakistan?
ZK: There is existence of anti-Baloch sentiments. Here I quote a senior journalist of Pakistan, he says, “According to the history, Baloch has been against British or European powers and English never liked Baloch. Today also Baloch is disliked by the relic of British, who are ruling on Pakistan. This state was formed according to the will of British and today itself British and other European backed people are running Pakistan; they are continuing the same policy such as “Divide and rule” in Balochistan. So Baloch whether is journalist, political activist, human rights defender or social activist, they face extreme discrimination in Pakistan.
ZK: When struggle is to bring a change or your moves are against the policies of rulers, then facing of trouble is implicit. In my programs, I have an opportunity to focus those problems which are being faced by the people of Balochistan, mainly, the human rights violation or the other social issues. Therefore, as we discussed financial crises, so we face such things due to our policy.
Blv: What is your view about quality of journalism in Balochistan?
ZK: About quality of journalism, I think it is still passing from its phase of learning. There is imperative requisition of exposure and trainings, which play a significant role regarding quality of profession; unfortunately, such opportunities lack here. Suppose due to law and order situation which is disturbed in Balochistan, consequently you will be failed to report smoothly circumstances unless you are well trained and provided safe environment for reporting. Those journalists who have not studied Mass Communication, thus for them trainings are very essential to ensure quality of journalism. Apart from this, sincerity with profession and consistency can help mentioned journalists to improve their skills and become a proficient in journalistic field. If the process runs and other institutions will have arranged such conventions, surely, there will be remarkable improvements.
Blv: Should there be more Baloch channels to strengthen media in Balochistan?
ZK: Of course, there is scope for more channels, because if we see the other societies, where vital role of media can observe, which transformed world into a global village. Media has an adequate influence on politics of Pakistan for last four and five years, even in Balochistan more work is needed to be done in this field. If other channels lift-up Baloch issues, it will be highlighted enough. It is also fact that competition produces qualitative journalism.
Blv: Do you think media should have sympathies for political parties?
ZK: It is including in ethics of journalism that media should be neutral and unbiased. The journalists and TV channels must not have sympathies or partiality toward any political party or politicians, and they should not work on the directions of political groups, in case, when media-men do so, then they will be violating the ethics of journalism. It is crystal clear that such things are going on in Pakistan but TV channels and journalists have to play their role as a bridge to bring-up better relations among various section of society.