Perils of reporting in Balochistan discussed

KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan held a consultants’ meeting at their office here on Saturday to look into the growing restrictions on the media, specifically with reference to Balochistan.

Explaining the issue, Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan said that there had been plenty of changes in the political scene during the past year, but for common people the space was getting restricted.

Giving examples of the recent attacks on media persons like Ahmed Noorani, Matiullah Jan, Hamid Mir, he said that the media was under threat. “We are being advised to stop such and such news from getting published or being aired. And it is very worrisome when the media which is just the messenger comes under attack for doing its job, as has been seen in view of attacks on journalists,” he said.

Tahir Hasan Khan of the Karachi Press Club also said that the media was facing a serious issue in the form of restrictions put on it. “We got freedom of expression through our hard work, but now it seems that we will have to fight more for it,” he said.

“The attack on Mr Noorani sends a clear message, and that they hit him on his head while saying that it was where his thoughts come from is like them experimenting to see how they can scare and silence the media,” he said. “It is obvious that this is all linked to the media’s highlighting of issues in Balochistan,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have to travel to Balochistan to do stories about them as we can no longer do it over the phone as the lines there are being tapped.”

Arif Siddiq Baloch said that they were ‘advised’ to carry Balochistan-related news on inside or less prominent spaces. “Our main stories all happen to be press releases and our staff’s movements are constantly being monitored. The provincial government has also stopped advertising in our papers, which will surely lead to shutting down of many newspapers in Balochistan,” he said.

Anwar Sajdi said that journalists in Balochistan only see the darkness of hopelessness ahead for themselves. “We are told not to publish anything against CPEC,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2017

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