• Sunday 26th May 2019

The Dangers Of Being A Journalist In Balochistan By Muhammad Akbar Notezai, The Deplomat

The media is being targeted on all sides in the name of information control.

The Dangers of Being a Journalist in Balochistan

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

The media is being targeted on all sides in the name of information control.

In Pakistan’s province of Balochistan, journalists have been under deadly assault since 2008, with dozens losing their lives. Traditionally, journalists were targeted mainly in interior Balochistan, but the danger zone has now expanded to the provincial capital of Quetta. A case in point is the recent killing of senior journalist Irshad Mastoi, his trainee reporter Abdul Rasool Khajak, and accountant Mohammad Younus in their office in Quetta’s Jinnah Road area.

To date, no one has claimed responsibility for the killings.

The recent killings have created widespread fear among journalists working in Balochistan. Meant to serve as a “voice” for persecuted people, journalists have now resorted to demonstrating in front of the Quetta Press Club. They have also been rallying on roads, chanting slogans against the provincial government for failing to provide security.

“In Balochistan, journalists are ruthlessly threatened by state and non-state actors,” said Shahzada Zulfiqar, a veteran journalist based in Quetta. He added, “There is no journalism in Balochistan. Both the state and non-state actors want to take over the media.”

The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) claims that 41 journalists have been targeted in Balochistan in different incidents. According to the union, “Balochistan has become a cemetery for journalists, who perform their journalistic duties honestly and bravely.”

Balochistan’s journalist community recently staged a sit-in protest in front of the provincial assembly, but it was ended when the Chief Minister Dr. Adbul Malik Baloch assured journalists of their safety and announced a judicial inquiry into the killings. Raza-ur-Rehman, president of the Quetta Press Club, remained doubtful, however. “Though the Chief Minister announced the judicial inquiry, it is not formed yet,” he said. “Again, we have been separated from a colleague (Irshad Mastoi) of ours.”

Journalists are now working in constant fear for their lives when reporting anything about Balochistan’s troubles. The picture is worse for those working in rural areas, with many districts where journalists cannot report independently.


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