Journalists’ Economic Woes in Balochistan
By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
Muhammad Ali (Name changed), 68, has been working as a reporter for a private TV channel in Balochistan’s Nushki district. In the view of high inflation rate in the country, he is paid monthly only 15, 000 rupees. Except journalism, he does not have other sources of income.
That is why he has to run his family with this low salary. “Despite my frequent requests, my salary has not been increased yet,” he told Balochistan Inside. “As for my services, I have been consecutively working for my private TV channel for more than 15 years. He further added he was repentant for becoming a journalist, as he could not even earn his livelihood properly.
It is to be noted that Muhammad Ali is lucky enough that he at least receives salary. In rural Balochistan, local journalists are mostly unpaid. Therefore, they are either teachers or clerks in their hometown. But there are some, who do not have jobs. They solely do journalism. That is why they have to attend the press conferences regularly at their district press clubs, so that they may get a trivial amount or, to be more specific, 500 rupees. Besides it, they go to local elites for money, and they get published statements in their favor. Unfortunately, in some districts of Balochistan, journalists who are school teachers and clerks also do reporting part time. That is why they cannot afford to earn the ire of ministers. If they do, they get transferred to other districts of the province. That is why they keep silent.
Similarly, in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, journalists are confronting the same challenges. The reason is: in Quetta, a reporter is not even paid more than 3, 000 rupees monthly who works for a national English newspaper, while a photographer is said to get paid around 2, 000 rupees in a month. There is also much difference between Quetta based bureau chief’s salary with that Islamabad, Karachi, and Peshawar based bureau chief. Similarly, in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, journalists are confronting the same challenges. The reason is: in Quetta, a reporter is not even paid more than 3, 000 rupees monthly who works for a national English newspaper, while a photographer is said to get paid around 2, 000 rupees in a month. There is also much difference between Quetta based bureau chief’s salary with that Islamabad, Karachi, and Peshawar based bureau chief.
Many more journalists are underpaid even in Quetta. Only, unlike rural journalists of Balochistan, they have the opportunity of attending works shops in the city, when the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) holds.
Besides it, as Quetta is center of journalistic activities in all over Balochistan, they (journalists) at least can earn their two times’ meal.
Interestingly, Quetta based senior journalists who are affiliated with international news agencies and TV channels are only economically well-off.
Barkat Zaib Sumalani, who is a senior journalist based in Nushki, told this scribe, “Economically, journalists in rural Balochistan are living in a very pitiable condition. They mostly do not get salaries from their organizations, and they have been working voluntarily for years. If a journalists dares ask for salary, he gets cold-shouldered by his organizations and finally expelled. Unfortunately, another takes his position instead of standing by his side.”
He further added, “There is no unity among journalists in rural Balochistan, which is why their woes are compounding by the day. Unfortunately, journalism, which I am experiencing it myself, cannot be considered as a source of income; you have to run either a shop or work as s tutor along with journalism. Otherwise, it becomes difficult for him to run his family.”
When asked, local reporters from rural parts of Balochistan told Balochistan Inside, “In almost all districts of Balochistan, we have only one problem, that we do not get a single penny from our media organizations. On the other hand, it is unfortunate to know that Quetta based newspapers do not pay to their stringers despite the fact they send reports to them on daily basis.
“In rural areas of Balochistan, there are no facilities available for journalists. As I spoke to journalists based in rural Balochistan, one said he kept his own son as a cameraman because he himself did not get salary from his TV Channel. So, he wondered if he could hire someone else to do that job for him,” said Shahzada Zulfiqar, the president of Quetta Press Club, to this scribe. He further added that there are merely a few TV Channels that give the reporters salaries in few districts of Balochistan, not in all 32 districts.
Nevertheless, Pakistan in general and Balochistan in particular has been termed one of the dangerous parts of world for journalists. There have been around two dozen journalists killed purely due to their journalistic works.
In spite of it, journalist endeavor for news in the province, as well as bravely work for their media organizations. But their media organizations are least bothered about their reporters.
In these circumstances, Balochistan’s journalists should be unified for their basic rights which they have not been getting for decades. In doing so, they can at least be prospered economically, and can be able to properly run their families.
Source: Balochistan Inside