Monthly Archives: December 2013

Why Vash Should Not Be Banned


By Muhammad Akbar NotezaiImage

Vash, Pakistan’s single private Balochi language TV channel and founded five years ago, has financially been facing hurdle due to its independent and indifferent coverage to the far-flung areas of Balochistan. For example, when the 7.7 magnitude of the earth quake struck Awaran on December 24, 2013. It took the lives of 825 residents of Awaran and injured thousands of others. Undoubtedly, the mainstream national media gave very little coverage to the affected areas of the district, and none of them, very surprisingly, did not go and visit the earthquake hit district.  But the whole team of Vash, at that very time, and some its correspondents, were there in the areas after the earthquake struck. They wholly covered Awaran and discussed the earthquake hit victims’ grieves. Also, they brought to light the government’s inefficiency and apathy towards the earthquake victims, and denounced the higher authorities for not letting the international aid agencies and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to reach Awaran.

Besides it, when the Baloch long march participants commenced their long march of 780 kilometers on foot for their relatives from the Quetta Press Club on October 27, 2013, and its second phase is still going on. The Vast TV’s reporters have been reporting about them. Due to these reasons, the government has been pressurizing the Balochi TV channel. And the advertisements, which the Vash TV’s chief executive Iqbal Baloch said their right, are not having them. Therefore, they have been recording their protest across Sindh and Balochistan against the provincial governments for not providing financial support to them.

“In the beginning, when the Vash TV channel was newly launched. It was being given little financial assistance by the federal government. But after the 18th amendment, when all authorities have been transferred to the provinces; after that,  Vash has not been receiving  its due right by the Sindh and Balochistan governments,” said Rashid Baloch, who is the Balochistan based bureau chief of the Vash TV.

Obviously, the government has not been giving advertisements to Vash TV for four years, and its chief executive  Iqbal Baloch said  on an another occasion that he spent from his own pocket by selling his property to run the news channel. But, in this way, for how long would he run it? And the government, instead of supporting the Vash TV channel, they had it off-aired via Pak-Set-Satellite. They further warned to ban it if they did not make possible the payment to the PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority).

Balochistan, which is home to many mega projects; these mega projects have not been giving advertisements to the single channel of Balochistan’s indigenous people, i.e., the Vash. But these mega projects’ advertisements can be seen on the national private TV channels in the country.

Against this injustice, Balochistan’s social activists, local journalists/stringers, political activists and others protested and took out rallies across the Balochistan province. They also chanted slogans against the government to give advertisements to the Balochi TV, so that it may continue its services for the people of Balochistan.

In Balochistan, protesters also commended the role of Vash TV for the promotion of the Balochi language and culture. They said, due to Vash News, classes of Balochi language began at the University of Karachi.

It is also proved scientifically that a human learns better in his mother tongue than any other languages. Therefore, it is to be maintained and supported.

The other nations of Pakistan have the TV channels in  their own native languages. For example, Punjabis, Sindhis and Pashtuns, all have their own languages’ TV channels. These TV channels are:  Royal TV, Apna News, Sindhi TV, Khyber TV, etc. And all of them are not complainants about the government for not providing them advertisements, because they are well maintained and supported by the government. Therefore, Vash TV (The Balochi language TV channel) should also be well maintained and supported. The government should also give advertisements to it as it gives to the other nations’ languages’ TV channels. Hence, it should not be banned.

The writer can be contacted at akbarnotezai@yahoo.com

(Courtesy: Bolan Voice)

The Baloch Families on March for Their Relatives


    By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

The Baloch families’ long march, led by Mama Qadir Baloch (70 year old man and the vice president of an advocacy group named Vice of Baloch Missing Persons), commenced from the Quetta Press Club on October 27, 2013.  After travelling 27 days and covering 780 kilometers on foot, the Baloch long march participants, including Farzana Majid, the former BSO-Azad leader/who is presently missing, Zakir Majid’s sister, reached with dozens of women and children with bruised feet and ailing health the Karachi Press Club on November 23, 2013.A

While in Karachi, the Baloch families spent 20 days at a protest camp outside the press club where they were paid visits by the leaders of political parties, ministers and rights activists. They showed solidarity with the Baloch missing persons’ families, and chanted slogans against the government to make efforts to release the missing persons of Balochistan.

After having been pressed by the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif paid a visit to the Baloch missing families’ camp.  He ensured the Baloch families that he would release their relatives if they removed the camp. But the Baloch families/protesters flatly refused him, and they told him they had been ditched many times by the leaders.

For instance, Dr. Malik Baloch, the Balochistan’s first middle-class Chief Minister, when visited the Vice of Baloch Missing Persons’ camp in Quetta also ensured the Baloch families to remove the camp, so that he may have their relatives released.  But, so far, he has failed to recover a single Baloch missing in Balochistan. Contrarily, he later on said during a press conference at the Karachi Press Club: “Releasing the Baloch missing persons from the captivity of the state actors is beyond my control.”

Dr. Malik further counted his party’s secretary general Abdul Majid Baloch among the Baloch missing persons.

When the former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ordered the Defense Ministry to produce the missing persons before the Supreme Court. Subsequently, he identified the 35 people but none of them was hailed from Balochistan. They belonged to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of the country, and they were picked up during the military operation against the Taliban outfits.

Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor-in-chief of The Baloch Hal, said: “Former Justice Chaudhry had been pressing the military authorities hard to produce the disappeared people. He even issued a contempt notice to the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps (F.C) for not appearing before the court despite repeated orders from the judiciary. And they bought more time until the Chief Justice retired from his office.”

However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has so far completed 95 hearings on Balochistan but fails to provide justice to the Baloch missing persons’ families. Also, despite holding the IG FC and the top military authorities responsible in the Baloch missing persons’ cases, it did not bring any results. It signifies, there is lack of coordination between the institutions of the state. And when the state institutions do not work in coherence with each other, then it brings them in a state of conflict with each other. Each institution works in complete isolation without following a national agenda and thus results in chaos and anarchy in the whole structure of governance and state’s system. Unfortunately the same situation Pakistan has been facing as a hurdle, particularly in the Baloch missing persons’ case.

Coming to the mainstream national media, this performs the role of opinion maker and educates the masses on all issues nationally and internationally. But, unfortunately, this time, regarding the issue of the Baloch missing persons and long march, they have not been giving coverage to the long marchers. Though almost all TV channels’ head offices are situated in Karachi, where Mama Qadir Baloch along with other missing Balochs’ families stayed more than two weeks at the camp outside the Karachi Press Club, none of them went to them and discuss their grieves.  So, really, it raises the question: how much the Private TV Channels are independent in the country?

Mama Qadir Baloch, while addressing a press conference in Quetta, said on the occasion of commencing the first phase of the long march: “If the state authorities seemed least bothered about our key issue despite the completion of our first phase of the long march. We will resume our long from Karachi to Islamabad to keep protesting until or unless the last missing Baloch is recovered.” Similarly, when the leaders failed to convince the Baloch families to release their relatives, then Mama Qadir Baloch along with other Baloch families resumed the long march on December 13, 2013—-a distance of 1468 kilometers, which the Baloch families have to cover.

When contacted, Mama Qadir Baloch said: “In Sindh, the people belonging to different walks of life have been welcoming us after resuming the second phase of the long march.”

“At international level, we are being satisfactorily responded by the media and Human Rights Organizations,” he added.

Moreover, it is to be noted that the responsible authorities are not taking up the issue of the Baloch missing persons, because, despite the Baloch families’ ongoing long and excruciating journey for their relatives, two more missing Balochs’ dead bodies are found from the Lasbella and Pishin districts of Balochistan. After the responsible authorities frequent hoodwinking, it is time the international organizations intervened into this key issue for the purpose of remedying the Baloch missing persons’ families’ grieves.

The writer can be contacted at akbarnotezai@yahoo.com

(Courtesy: Bolan Voice)