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 continuously increasing.
Balochistan, as compared to other provinces of Pakistan, is not well-developed. There are a great number of problems.
However, as far as land mass of Balochistan is concerned, it makes 43 percent of 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 newspapers.
Undoubtedly, local journalists of Balochistan have been enunciating or writing in local newspapers about the negligence of the national media regarding Balochistan issue.
As we know that journalists are responsible for extracting the truth, but, of course, in Baluchistan , the messengers of truth and those journalists who are performing their duties with bravery are being systematically and brutally killed. Therefore, 22 journalists have been reportedly killed in Balochistan and many more have sustained injuries in the recent past. United Nations has time and again condemned the killing of the journalists in Balochista.
At least 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 transformed into somewhat “no-go areas” for reporters.
A month ago, Razaque Gul Baloch, who belonged to Turbat District, was reporting for a private TV channel; he was kidnapped and shot dead soon after his disappearance.
The Balochistan Union of Journalists and Baloch journalists from 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.
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 throughout the country, as it must be discussed and condemned, but the killing of many journalists of Balochistan, should have also come under discussion.
As a matter of fact, there are three zones in Balochistan where journalists face hardships while performing their duties. The three zones: Former Kalat state, Kohlu and Dera Bugti, especially in Nasir Abad, articulates 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 under 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 the 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 Journalists, 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 the 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 targeted killing of Balochistan’s journalists. If not resolved, the situation in the province will, otherwise, go out of control.
Published in The Baloch Hal on July 10, 2012