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The Baloch Hal Editorial: The Kidnapping of Another Baloch Journalist

By Malik Siraj Akbar

As expected, most Pakistani news channels and newspapers have avoided reporting about the kidnapping of an articulate journalist because they do not want to jeopardize their own lives and economic interests by antagonizing the elements responsible for the abduction.

Javid Naseer Rind, the former Deputy Editor of Daily Tawar, a leading anti-government Baloch newspaper published in Urdu language, was kidnapped on Saturday by unidentified people. Friends and family members of Mr. Rind, who is a widely respected newspaper columnist and a reporter, have raised fingers at the state intelligence agencies for whisking him away. He was picked up in Laseba District of Balochistan along with another relative of his Abdul Samad Baloch. Since then the whereabouts of the Baloch journalist are unknown.

“My uncle Abdul Samad Baloch and my uncle son Javed Naseer Rind are abducted by Pakistani ISI…we are not Taliban…please give us help. Please do some(thing) about us. I am the eye vitnes (sic),”begged Moeed Baoch, a relative of the missing journalist in an urgent request posted on the Facebook fan page of Najam Sethi, a renowned Pakistani newspaper editor and a liberal television anchorperson.

According to The Nation, a Lahore-based conservative newspaper, “Javed Naseer Rind is a journalist and columnist, associated with a local daily, a Balochistan based Urdu language newspaper. Police quoting eyewitnesses said abductors were riding in two separate cars who held Javed Naseer at gun-point and bundled him into the car and drove away.”

Mr. Rind’s family and well wishers have every legitimate reasons to worry about his forced disappearance because, unfortunately, most of the Baloch journalists who had been kidnapped in the past in a similar pattern were eventually found dead.This kidnapping refreshes our memories about our fellow journalists Lala Hameed Hayatan, Siddiq Eido and Ilyas Nazar, who were all picked up, tortured and killed after several days of mysterious disappearance.

As expected, most Pakistani news channels and newspapers have avoided reporting about the kidnapping of an articulate journalist because they do not want to jeopardize their own lives and economic interests by antagonizing the elements responsible for the abduction.

We have been repeatedly writing about the perils of reporting in Balochistan. Journalists face various types of serious threats and pressure. In some cases, many reporters criticizing the government polices in their dispatches have been kidnapped, tortured and killed by the government functionaries.

The unabated cycle of violence targeting Baloch journalists during a so-called democratic government is distressing. The Balochistan government has been approached by journalists’ rights bodies many times in the past to ensure the protection of reporters. Last month, a journalist from Khuzdar district Munir Ahmed Shahwani was gunned down.

The government has not exhibited any interest in investigating the murder of the Baloch reporter. Similarly, the killers of other reporters, who fell victims of the ongoing conflict, have not been exposed or brought to justice either.

Absolute inaction on the part of the government somehow shows complicity on the part of the official authorities. If a senior deputy editor and a well known columnist is not safe in Balochistan then junior reporters and stringers working in remote areas of the province are a lot more vulnerable.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other human rights groups must move quickly before another brave Baloch journalist is slain by his captors. There have been several occasions when we raised our concerns about the safety of certain reporters and demanded timely action. But our fellow reporters were killed within days or weeks. The best thing that can be done at the moment is to urge the government to ensure the safe and immediate release of Mr. Rind and his relative.

All tactics by the spymasters to muzzle the freedom of the press have not helped the government to achieve its elusive objectives. Societies become chaotic and violent when they lose respect for journalists, thinkers and human rights activists. In Balochistan, we are witnessing the systematic elimination of the all of the above allegedly by the secrete services. Even the country’s so-called independent judiciary seems to lack the mandate or, to put it in more candid words, the will to take notice of the widespread killings o Baloch journalists, writers and human rights activists.

Editor-in-Chief
The Baloch Hal
MALIK SIRAJ AKBAR

(Follow on Twitter: @MalikSirajAkbar)

The writer is a Hubert Humphrey Fellow and a visiting journalist at a Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a project by the Center for Public Integrity. Email: maliksirajakbar@gmail.com

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