Skip to main content

A bleak outlook for press freedom in Balochistan

By: Mariyam Suleman

Although, Pakistan has constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, expression and press, according toAmnesty International 2017-18 report,the crackdown on freedom of expression is growing. With no improvement, this year Pakistan again ranked 139th out of 180 on annual World Press Freedom Index released last month. As much as cases of attacks on journalists and threats to media houses in provinces with larger population have contributed to this deteriorating situation, Balochistan, as one of the deadliest places for journalists, has also contributed equally for such instances.

In its annual report, Freedom Network, a Pakistan-based media rights watchdog, said that out of every ten cases of attacks and violations against media and journalists in Pakistan, two cases were from Balochistan.

In the last two decades, press freedom in Balochistan plunged to worst levels where journalists faced violence, prosecution, and assassination. Several newspapers were blocked while last year threats forced the closure of press clubs across Balochistan for a period of three months. At least more than 40 journalists were killed in the last fifteen years in Balochistan according to media reports.

In the rest of the country, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 was used to harass and subjectively detain human rights defenders for online journalism and comments specially on blasphemy-related cases – in Balochistan with limited access to internet in most of its districts, there has been very little role of this law and its consequences. Instead, there is a different list of predators of press freedom, intimating and target killings of journalists. Being critical of the government policies and running stories of human rights violations in Balochistan have reportedly remained one of the top dangerous things in the list.

Many believe this increased government censorship and decline in press freedom, in Balochistan, amplified after the assassination of veteran Baloch nationalist leader and former Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Akbar Khan Bughti in 2006. It was when human rights abuses in Balochistan faced a black out from the mainstream media and journalists or news outlets covering such issues faced severe consequences by law enforcers. In 2009, the offices of widely read and distributed Asap – a “nationalist” daily newspaper were closed down and the editor in chief after surviving an assassination attempt was forced to go into exile. This process of blocking newspapers continued and consequently Baloch Hal, Balochistan’s first independent web-based English language newspaper was blocked, distribution of Daily Tawar, a widely read newspapers in Balochistan, was halted, access to a Baloch human rights blog and several other websites covering stories of human rights violations were blocked. However, not all newspapers faced the same fate, some, including daily Azadi and Balochistan Express continued to suffer.

This technique of threatening the press freedom worked, and ultimately rather than risking their lives, most journalists quit publishing about the human rights violations and on-going movements, meanwhile many international organizations including; Committee to Protect Journalists named the province as one of the most dangerous places for journalists.

On the contrary, the press in Balochistan last year paid another price – Press clubs across Balochistan were forced to remain close by the insurgent groups and distribution of newspapers was halted after an ultimatum issued in October last year. At one end, state actors have restricted journalists in Balochistan with threats to remain in a limited circle and on the other end, they are pressured by the insurgent groups to publish their statements. This ultimatum was followed by attacks at a news agency in Turbat and press club in Hub Chowki, Although, the press clubs were reopened after three months, but the air is still filled with fear while press freedom does not exist in the region anymore.

Today Balochistan faces near total control of news and information. Unfortunately, not only the authoritarian regimes, but freedom of press is under attack in a “democratic government,” which has definitely affected Balochistan but Pakistan’s largest news outlets and channels are no more free to cover many important issues either, specially the on-going civil rights movements in the country. Where the presence of constitutional laws guarantees protection of all citizens and allows freedom of expression and press, there is near to no implementation of these laws.

Published in The Balochistan Point on May 5, 2018


Popular posts from this blog

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…

Balochistan to establish first medical university

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017