Why Saleem Shehzad’s Murder Outweighs Killing of 10 Baloch Journalists

by: Yousaf Ajab Baloch

Saleem Shehzad, 40, bureau chief of Asia Times Online (Hong Kong) and Italian news agency Adnkronos, was abducted on May 29, 2011 in Islamabad and later, his bullet-riddled body was found after three days on May 31 in a river in Jehlam. Shehzad’s body bore marks of extreme torture, similar to that of more than 180 of Baloch journalists, freelance writers, lawyers, human rights defenders and political activists who were first abducted, tortured and subsequently killed. The journalist and human rights organizations allege secret agencies of the state for the murder of Shehzad.

Private TV channels, newspapers and magazines have fully focused the case and are demanding a probe into the extra judicial killing of the murdered journalist. For that purpose, Pakistan Union of Journalists (PFUJ) held a protest demonstration for two days in Islamabad, demanding tangible measures for the Saleem Shehzad’s murder case .In the protest, all the media men and some politicians participated and condemned the murder and demanded that a judicial commission be constituted to probe the killing of the slain journalist.

The stimulus role of mainstream media in Pakistan in general and massive  attention of international media, journalist organizations and human rights organizations in particular  astonished and once again increased despair among Baloch people, particularly the Baloch journalist. They have lost hope in international media as their colleagues have been systematically killed in “Kill and dump” policy of the state and in other target killing incidents in Balochistan.

It is surprising as why the international media or the champions of the imbalanced media in Pakistan have adopted a tacit role on the target killings of Baloch journalists, political workers and leaders, human rights activists, including common citizens. If we have a look at the case of Saleem Shehzad, and then observe disappearances of more than 8000 Baloch youth and recovery of more than 180 decomposed, mutilated, and bullet-riddled bodies from different districts of Balochistan, then the role of international media and journalist organizations becomes objectionable. Because, these bodies found in different parts of Balochistan also include journalists and writers.

Though Baloch people have been receiving bodies of their loved ones, whether they are target killed or have become victims of “Kill and dump” policy, it is the need of the hour to examine the role or reaction of media on international level or the role of the proponents of defending journalists’ rights and imbalanced journalism in Pakistan. The world has become known what happened with Saleem Shehzad, but let me share how the Baloch Journalists and freelance writers were victimized.

Journalists and writers killed in Balochistan in the past one year

Mr. Ali Sher Kurd was abducted on 21st September 2010 from Quetta, three days later his tortured and bullet riddled body was found in Khuzdar. Ali Sher Kurd was brutally tortured .His body had visible marks of torture. Mr.Ali Sher Kurd was a regular contributor to daily Ustaman and he also served as Sub-Editor of Monthly Nawa-e-Bolan.

Journalists in Khuzdar claim that all members of the press club face threats from militant groups, mainly the state agencies and their patronized anti-Baloch armed groups. Two journalists have lost their life so far. Faiz Muhammad Sasoli 27, a former member of Khuzdar press club and reporter for Daily Aaj Kal, was murdered on 27 June 2010 in Khuzdar. Similarly, Muhammad Khan Sasoli, 36, was killed on December 12, 2010. He worked for Royal TV and the INP news agency in Khuzdar. He was the president of Khuzdar Press Club. An anti-nationalist group claimed responsibility for his killing.

Hameed Hayatan Baloch, a young Baloch journalist, was kidnapped in Gawadar, Balochistan on October 25, 2010.Three months later, his bullet-riddled body was recovered in a deserted area .A piece of paper found from his pocket stated: “Eid gift for Baloch Nation.” Hayatan Baloch was a correspondent for the most quoted Baloch newspaper, Daily Tawar. Another reporter of the same newspaper from Mach city Rehmatullah Shaheen’s mutilated and bullet-riddled body was found at Espelinji Balochistn on April 1. He had been whisked away by personnel of Pakistani security agencies on March 5 at Dhadar Balochistan. Whereabouts of four of his friends, Abdulfatah, Abdul Rasool, Amanullah and Abdul Nabi, are still unknown.

Earlier, Muhammad Ilyas Nazar, 26, a Baloch journalist affiliated with Balochi language magazine Dhorant was reportedly picked up by the Government agencies after dragging him out of a passenger bus in the coastal area of Ormara when he was on his way from Quetta to Turbat on December 22, 2010. His body was found along with the body of Baloch students’ leader Qamabr Chakar on 5th January 2011. He had received bullets in head and had severe marks of torture on his body

Abdost Rind, a reporter with Urdu language newspaper Daily Eagle, was shot dead on February 18, 2011.The secret agencies were alleged for his murder.

On April 25, 2011, bullet-riddled body of Zareef Faraz, a poet and editor of a Balochi magazine – The Shabjoo – was found on a road in Turbat, Balochistan. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, Faraz was whisked away a week before he was killed, extrajudicially. His family members blame intelligence agencies of the state for disappearance, torturing and subsequent murder.

On April 28, 2011, the body of Baloch journalist and human rights activist, Siddque Eido, was found along with the body of Yousaf Nazar, an activist of BSO-Azad in Ormara, Balochistan. Both the victims were disappeared on December 21 last year.

Apart from target killings and murders in detention, three more journalists lost their lives in violence that ensued after a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a rally in Quetta, and suicide bombing at a local hospital. The suicide bombing targeted a Shiite demonstration. The following media men lost their lives in the mentioned incidents:

Malik Arif, Samaa TV – April 16, 2010
Mohammad Sarwar, Aaj TV - September 3, 2010
Ejaz Raisani, Sama TV - September 6, 2010

Now, can anyone read the questions in the eyes of Baloch journalists and Baloch people? Why the world has applied silence on the killings of Baloch journalists, including other Balochs who were killed as part of the “Kill and dump” policy of the state. On the one hand, if one journalist is killed in any other part of Pakistan, the world takes attention. On the other hand, more than ten journalists were killed in Balochistan, but no one knows about them. I believe, this all is because of the hypocritical media in Balochistan and in the state of Pakistan and lack of interest on the part of world community and international media in unfolding humanitarian crisis in Balochistan.

This is the time world community and international organizations working for human rights and journalists took notice of the extra-judicial murders of the Baloch journalists. Their silence means they are hiding their heads in sand on the subject of Baloch genocide. Doesn’t that make them stand with the perpetrators?

Republished from The Baloch Hal.

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