Oct 12, 2015

Balochistan: Media Silenced in the Name of National Security

In the name of counter-terrorism, Pakistani security forces are exercising more and more press censorship and impeding the reporting of human rights violations in Balochistan. In spite of article 19 of Pakistan’s Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression to every citizen, as well as freedom of press, the current situation demonstrates that the reality is very different and that Baloch people are systematically denied these as well as many other rights. 


Below is an article published by Daily Sangar:


The role of media in Baluchistan is most perverse discriminative. Actually whatsoever happening in Baluchistan, no one can disclose those facts. Although this modus operandi is being practiced from the day one but now it is being intensified due to National Action Plan (NAP). There is systematic escalating military operation going on across Baluchistan. On account of which, the innocent Baloch people have been willfully killed, enforced disappeared, administratively detained, custodial kills, persecuted, deported and displaced, tortured and liquidated by security forces of Pakistan. But unfortunately Pakistani media is not reporting these inhuman and unimaginable atrocities of security forces in print and electronic media with mala fide intentions and nefarious motives. Whereas, under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also mandate that everyone has right of freedom, opinion and expression, to receive and to impart information and ideas through any media. A number of international covenants emphasize the pivotal position of human rights, the most notable being International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). While Pakistan has ratified these most important instruments and enshrined them in her constitution, so it is duty bound to respect them but regrettably Pakistan has been seriously breaching them in Balochistan. Civil society and media ignoring and neglecting the atrocities of security forces. It would be pertinent to mention here that the role of Pakistan press in respect of Baloch people in earlier period of invasion of Baluchistan in the matter of safeguarding human rights has been worst. The security establishment conveniently invokes the sensitive ground of so called national security to frequently silence the media from reporting human rights violation especially from the sensitive regions. Up to now the current government has also shifted her constitutional privileges and solemn responsibilities to security forces in the form of 21st amendment of constitution which is totally a mockery to parliamentary democratic constitutional system and west minister system by virtue of which the parliament is supreme and prior to all organs of state including security establishment. But unfortunately Pakistan security establishment always undermine the democratic forces in the name of national security and manipulate that the democratic forces are not capable to protect the so called interest of nation and law and order-The Peshawer school attack was the textbook example which actually was engineered by themselves and implemented by its own baby Taliban. Nowadays the security forces are the real ruler. The civil government is powerless and the state apparatus being administrated by General Rahil Sharef instead of Nawaz shareef who is the chief executive of the state. The recent statement of Railway Minister Khwaja Rafiq revealed the actual fact. The media unfortunately by and large have a tendency to accept the gratuitous advice of ISPR without demur which totally counter to the spirit and confidence, which international covenants repose in free press. The media persons are well familiar that the security forces in Balochistan in the name of counter terrorism are exterminating, ethnic cleansing and slaughtering the Baloch innocent people. It is age of 21st century where priority is given to human right freedom not sovereignty of state in the name of national security. Ironically the parliament of Pakistan gives its power and authority to security forces which is ridiculous. Therefore one veteran parliamentarian of People´s party namely chairman of Senate cried during the debate when the bill of 21st amendment was tabled. Which recollect me to the words of Shakespeare’s `Fool´ when King Lear ended his kingdom foolishly to his daughter´s hands and where he was evicted from the homes of his daughter and said:

“ What a fool I am, to make the daughter a mother and mother a daughter”

It is regretful that the Pakistani civil society and especially the media projecting policies of security establishment and its notorious deeds in Balochistan in the age of globalization and technology information. After all the media is silent and cold censored in violation of human rights and fundamental freedom of Balochistan. Crucial example is the 18th July bombardment on a sacred day Eid and prior to that tragedy and event, the security forces assault on funeral occasion in Mashkai Awaran. In these twin tragedies more than 200 innocent people were willfully slaughtered without any justification, the cottage and mud built houses were demolished and burnt and more than 30 villages and towns were destroyed and innocent people were forced to deport from their native villages and towns which is crystal clear violation of provisions of Rome statute and crime against humanity and crime against war and genocide. But the media in this conscience shocking scenario is silent which reveals that Pakistan media is suffering from yellow journalistic disease which is not a good omen for a democratic society but there were a few principled journalists and human rights defenders as such Hamid Mir and Sabeen Mehmood who have raised the cruelty and atrocity of security forces of Pakistan in terms of Baloch Genocide, crime against humanity, crime against war. But we observed that Sabeen Mahmood and Mastoi were ruthlessly eliminated and Hamid Mir fortunately survived. Their only sins were that they have raised the issue of missing persons and atrocity of security forces. They are also violating article 16 and 19 of Pakistan constitution respectively. Article 16 states that every citizen has the right to assemble peacefully. Sabeen Mehmood assembled peacefully but he was eliminated. Article 19 states that every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression and there shall be freedom of press, further Article 19(a) states that every citizen shall have the right to access the information to all matter of public importance but we Baloch have been deprived from these fundamental freedom which is a eye opening question to Pakistan civil society, media and international community. But the journalists and media are carrying out the instruction and advice from ISPR and their role in respect of Balochistan is against the spirit and ethics of journalism. 

It is to be noted that such atrocities and suffering do not obliterate hopes of Baloch liberation movement, rather it has created a culture of messianic enabling Baloch to mobilize their compatriot, and created a culture of sacrifice among the Baloch youth who are ready to die for a noble cause. It also helped to garner diplomatic and international support, the notable example is the strong condemnation of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) reaction on the cruelty of 18th July in Awaran. It is mandatory to inform the world the security forces that Baloch is a phoenix nation which can't be obliterated by virtue of its physical geography. Its mountainous domain are helping both to resist invader and to safeguard its culture and the people.

Photo credit Beluchistan @Flickr