The sin of being a journalist in Baluchistan: 31 killed since 2007


 By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
Balochistan, the largest and most restive province of Pakistan, has become a ‘dangerous place’ for journalists. Because of the danger and the challenges they encounter, journalists rarely write about sensitive issues. They are frightened of both state and non-state actors who warn of dire consequences if they report on happenings in the province.Akbar
 Since 2007, thirty-one journalists died while covering such issues as Baloch missing persons, sectarian violence, Talibanization and sectarian violence.“There are no journalistic activities in these districts of Balochistan where an armed struggle is going on. These districts are: Turbat, Panjgur, Kharan, Khuzdar, Awaran, Kohlu, Dera Bugti and Gwadar,” said Shehzada Zulfiqar, a daily bureau chief based in Quetta. Those districts of Balochistan that border Afghanistan, like Chaghi, Chaman and Nushki also lack journalism.

In these districts, under the condition of anonymity, local stringers told this writer that they could not file any news stories to newspaper and TV channel offices regarding the situation of the Pak-Afghan border, the Taliban’s move across borders and drug smuggling because they faced multiple threats.

It should also be noted that Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, lacks independent journalism. Here journalists are ruthlessly threatened. Because of this they avoid reporting anything that might put their lives at risk.

Recently a case against four Urdu language newspapers was lodged with the Quetta local police .They are the Daily Jang, Daily Mashriq, Daily Express and Daily Intekhab. These newspapers published a statement of Jasih-ul-Islam, an underground Sunni militant group, which has been carrying out attacks against Shias in Balochistan. Because the banned outfits repeatedly threaten to attack the newspaper offices if their policy statements do not get published, the journalists in Quetta said, “It is better to be jailed for 6 months than to get assaulted by the banned outfits.”

In Balochistan, journalists come under dual pressure from both the government and from banned Islamic extremist groups. Previously the Baluchistan High Court (B.H.C), the highest court of the province, instructed newspapers not to publish statements from groups that involve themselves in terrorism. At the same time the banned groups warn journalists of dire consequences if they do not publish their policy statements.

Under these circumstances, Balochistan’s 31 journalists lost their lives.

Khalil Ullah, a reporter at Daily Bakhabar from Mach city of Balochistan, died in a suicide attack on October 18, 2007 in Karachi.

Dr. Chisti Mujahid was a correspondent at a weekly magazine of the Jang Group, the Akhbar Jahan. He was a resident of Quetta and was killed on February 9, 2008. The Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A), a banned Baloch outfit, accepted responsibility for his killing.

Khadim Hussain Sheikh, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Hub News, was killed on April 14, 2008, in Hub city of Balochistan.

Wasi Ahmed Qureshi , a reporter at the Daily Azadi and its English language newspaper, the Daily Balochistan Express was targeted on April 10, 2009, in Khuzdar, Balochistan.

Faiz Ahmed Sasoli , a reporter at Daily Azadi was killed on June 27, 2009. The Baloch Liberation Army accepted responsibility for his killing.

Malik Mohammad Arif, a cameraman at Samaa TV, died on April 16, 2010, when a bomb exploded at Civil Hospital, Quetta. He was there to give coverage to the victims of the sectarian violence.

Muhammad Sarwar was performing his duty as a driver for Samaa TV in Quetta, Balochistan when he died in a suicide attack on September 3, 2010, at Youm-ul-Qudus Rally.

Ijaz Raisani, working as a cameraman for Samaa TV in Quetta sustained severe injuries on September 3, 2010, in a suicide attack at Youm-ul-Qudus Rally. He succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital on September 6, 2010.

Lala Hamid Baloch was affiliated with the Daily Tawar (Baloch nationalist Urdu language newspaper). According to his local journalist friends, he was abducted by security forces. His bullet riddled body was found in the desolate areas of Balochistan’s Turbat district on November 18, 2010.

Muhammad Khan Sasoli was simultaneously reporting for the Daily Zamana, The Balochistan Times and the Independent News Pakistan (I.N.P) in Khuzdar district of Balochistan. He was shot to death on December 14, 2010, in Khuzdar.

Siddique Eido , a human rights defender and reporter at Daily Eagle in Balochistan’s coastal city of Pasni was kidnapped along with his friend Yousaf Nazar by unidentified men in Gwadar on December 21, 2010. Their bullet riddled bodies were found on April 29, 2011, in Ormara (Balochistan’s coastal city).

Ilyas Nazar, from the Turbat district of Balochistan was affiliated with the Daily Tawar. He was abducted and tortured to death. His mutilated body was found on January 3, 2011.

Wali Khan Babar, a resident of Zhob, Balochistan was working as a reporter for Geo TV in Karachi.  Unidentified assailants shot him dead on January 13, 2011, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Abdost Rind, a reporter at the Daily Eagle in Turbat, Balochistan was killed on January 18, 2011.

Rehmat Ullah Shaheen, affiliated with the Daily Tawar, went missing in his home district Bolan on March 18, 2011. His bullet riddled body was found on April 1, 2011, in the Sariab area of Quetta.

Zarif Faraz, editor-in-chief of the Shahjo magazine in Turbat went missing in Gwadar, Balochistan, on April 21, 2011. His bullet riddled body was found in Turbat’s Murghap area.

Munir Ahmed Shakir, a reporter at the “online international news network” and Sabzbat (Balochi language TV channel) in Khuzdar was on his way to the Press Club in Khuzdar when he was killed on August 14, 2011.

Javed Naseer Rind, a reporter at the Daily Tawar in Hub, Balochistan was kidnapped on September 10, 2011. His bullet riddled body was found in Khuzdar on November 5, 2011.

Razak Gul Baloch, affiliated with the Daily Express and Express TV channel in Turbat, left his home on May 18, 2012, after receiving a telephone call from an unidentified person. His body was found near his home the next day.
Abdul Qadir Hajizai, a reporter at Vash TV channel in Washuk, Balochistan was killed on May 28, 2012. The Baloch Liberation Front (B.L.F), a banned Baloch outfit, accepted responsibility for his killing claiming he had underground links with the intelligence services.

Dilshad Diyani, a reporter at Daily Azadi and Gwadar Press Club’s Joint Secretary was killed in Karachi on August 31, 2012.

Abdul Haq Baloch was working simultaneously as a reporter for the Daily Tawar, Daily Awam and ARY TV channel in Khuzdar. Unidentified assailants killed him on September 29, 2012, in Khuzdar.

Khalid Musa, a reporter at Daily Ummat in Turbat was killed on October 23, 2012. The Baloch Liberation Front accepted responsibility for his killing.

Abdul Ahad Baloch was a reporter at Daily Aaj Kal in Panjgur district of Balochistan. Unidentified assailants killed him on November 15, 2012, in Panjgur.

Rehmat Ullah Shaheen, a reporter at Dunya TV channel in Panjgur was targeted on November 18, 2012, in Panjgur.

Jamshaid Ali Karl, a reporter at the Daily Nazim newspaper in Quetta was targeted on December 20, 2012, when he was on his way from Quetta to Sadiq Abad to attend his son’s wedding. The Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A) claimed responsibility for his killing.

Saifur Rehman (senior reporter at Samaa TV), Imran Sheikh (cameraman at Samaa TV) and Iqbal Hussain (a computer operator in NNI news agency) were killed on January 10, 2013, in the line of duty on Alamdar Road, Quetta, Balochistan.

Mahmood Ahmed Afridi, the correspondent at Daily Intekhab newspaper was gunned down in Kalat, Balochistan on March 1, 2013. The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for his killing.

Haji Abdul Razak Baloch, a copy editor at Daily Tawar went missing in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, Pakistan, on March 24, 2013. His bullet riddled body was found on August 21, 2013.

Clearly these facts and circumstances demonstrate that free press does not exist in Balochistan. Journalists writing about sensitive issues in the province risk their lives. International organizations ought to pay heed to the journalistic issues of the Balochistan based journalists, so that they may independently continue their services for the neglected and ignored people of Balochistan.

 Muhammad Akbar Notezai is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Quetta. He blogs at thttp://www.akbarnotezai.wordpress.com. He can be reached at akbarnotezai@yahoo.comand on twitter @Akbar_notezai
(Courtesy: ViewPoint)
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About Muhammad Akbar Notezai

Muhammad Akbar Notezai is a columnist-cum-political interviewer. He basically belongs to the largest district of Pakistan, Chaghi, which makes a triangular border with Afghanistan and Iran. He was born in Dalbandin (Headquarter of Chaghi), but presently he is living in Quetta. He contributes to these newspapers and periodicals: the Daily Times, The Baloch Hal, View Point, Bolan Voice, Power Politics (An Indian National Magazine), The Balochistan Point and Daily Balochistan Express, Quetta. In addition, he writes and interviews on social, political, cultural and Economic issues of Balochistan. He also covers Iranian Balochistan and Afghanistan.

Posted on January 10, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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