The Balochistan Journalists’ Conundrum
By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
Balochistan, despite being mineral rich province of Pakistan, abounds with numerous problems, but this time I put pen to the page for throwing a beam of light on journalists’ issue of Balochistan. Ironically, the issue of the Balochistan’s journalists is neither being paid heed to internationally nor nationally. This is the reason journalistic problems as well as their targeted killing are at their zenith.
Balochistan, as compared to other provinces of Pakistan, is not well developed. There are a great numbers of problems, in Balochistan, are prevailing.
However, as far as land mass of Balochistan is concerned, it makes 43 percent of the Pakistan and if we exclude Fata from Pakistan, Balochistan makes half land mass of it. But, unfortunately, it is entirely ignored and forgotten in media and national news papers.
Undoubtedly, local journalists of Balochistan have been enunciating or writing in local news papers about the negligence of the national media regarding Balochistan issue.
As we are cognizant that journalists are responsible for soliciting the truth, but, of course, in Baluchistan, solicitors of truth and those journalists who are performing their duties with candor, are being killed systematically and brutally. Therefore, 22 journalists have been reportedly killed in Balochistan and many more have sustained injuries in consecutive seven months. Incontrovertibly, once United Nations Organization vehemently condemned the killing of the journalists of Balochistan.
The three Baloch journalists namely Muhammad Khan Sasoli, Munir Shakir and Faiz Sasoli, have been killed in Khuzdar. That is why Khuzdar and its contiguous areas have been declared no-go areas for journalists.
A month ago, Razaque Gul Baloch, who hailed from Turbat, was reporting for a private TV channel Express Century, was kidnapped and shot to death in Turbat.
Balochistan Union of Journalists and Baloch journalists form Makran protested in Balochistan and took out rally against the brutal killing of Razaque Gul Baloch, but the provincial government, surprisingly, did not condemn his killing.
Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor-in-chief of The Baloch Hal, won political asylum in USA. He had same threats; therefore, he preferred not to jeopardize his life.
On International Day of journalists, in media, many programs were held, but the killing of the 22 journalists from Balochistan, was not discussed.
Journalist Saleem Shehzad’s killing has been condemned through out country, of course, should be condemned, but the killing of many journalists of Balochistan, should also have been condemned.
As a matter of fact, there are three zones in Balochistan where journalists face too much hardships while performing their duties. The three zones: Former Kalat state, Kohlu and Dera Bugti, especially in Nasir Abad, annexed with Sind border. At these places due to strong tribal customs journalists can’t perform their duty honestly. A typical example is the killing of three girls in Nasirabad district, and the local journalists were threatened not to report about the incident, so the incident didn’t come into discussion.
It is also undeniable that, journalists in rural areas of Balochistan, are not well educated, so for getting jobs and other incentives from elites they quit writing or reporting against them.
Besides these three zones, Makran division, consisting of Turbat, Panjgur and Gwadar, comes. It is apparent that education ratio in Makran is high, and has produced plethora of talented people, like intellectuals, poets, journalists, etc. One of them is Attah Shahd, from Makran; his interesting and beautiful poems are still reverberating in the hearts of the people of Balochistan.
As I squeezed my mind to remember other prominent personalities of the Makran division, Ghani Parvaaz was potpourri of writer, journalist and intellectual.
Since 1947 up till today, in Makran, there is no any Sardar or Nawab. The people are prodigiously enlightened, have an aversion to Sardari and Nawabi system. Confidently, enlightened people of the Makran flatly deny the claim of the govt that Sardars or Nawabs are obstacles on the progress of Balochistan, because Sardari or Nawabi system doesn’t exist in Makran at all. Then why isn’t Makran progressed?
Makran, after Quetta, is the only place where local news papers publish; also there are press clubs in Turbat, Panjgur and Gwadar. Consecutively, for few years situation of Makran is warmed due to the conflict of the Gwadar port, area journalists are being given threats security forces to not report about the situation.
In Balochistan along with Baloch journalist, journalists of the Pashthoon belt are also facing problems due to lack of resources. The feudal and tribal system is also rampant in Pashthoon belt, creating hurdles for the local Pashthoon journalists. That is why freedom of press is not possible there.
Wali Khan Babar, the reporter of Geo TV, was shot to death in Karachi by the extortionists of the Karachi’s largest party. He hailed from Zhob, a Pashthoon district of Balochistan. Yet the murderers of Wali Khan Babar have not been apprehended by Police.
Pashthoon places are in proximity to provincial capital Quetta; therefore, many of the Pashthoon journalists publish their news papers form Quetta. They also send their news papers to Pashthoon belt of Balochistan.
If we have a glance over the provincial capital of Balochistan journalists, as compared to other cities of Balochistan, are prosperous. The majority of journalists, who are in Quetta, as mentioned above, belong to other provinces. Sadly, they are cut off from other cities of Balochistan’s journalists. That is why Balochistan issues can’t be perceived thoroughly, people’s indignation is getting intensified, instead of abating.
Keeping the above journalistic problems into consideration; it becomes government’s responsibility to resolve them as soon as possible, also make it’s every endeavor to stop target killing of Balochistan’s journalists. If not resolved, the solution in the province will, otherwise, go out of control and its peace will be shattered forever.