Security situation for media deteriorates in Balochistan13 Nov, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses serious concern over the growing threats and dangers to journalists and media in Balochistan, Pakistan. The IFJ demands urgent measures from the Pakistani authorities to improve the security situation to ensure unhindered freedom of the press.
Journalistic activities and distribution of newspapers in the Baloch region of the Balochistan province of southwestern Pakistan have been halted following threats. More than a dozen Press Clubs including those in Chaghi, Kalat Gwadar, Panjgur, Kharan, Dalbadin, Sarawan, Hub, Wandar, Uthal and Bela in Balochistan have been shut down indefinitely following threats from militant groups. The situation was a result of four separate incidents in recent days targeting the media, according to a report.
On October 24, banned insurgent groups issued an ultimatum to stop the distribution of newspapers. On October 25, assailants belonging to Baloch Liberation Front hurled a hand grenade at the Hub Press Club. On October 26, unknown men attacked a newspaper distribution outlet in Turbat with a grenade that left several people injured, and gunmen stopped and attacked a minivan in the Awaran district and burnt the newspaper bundles it was carrying. On October 30, unidentified armed men beat up an employee of Daily Qudrat and burnt the newspapers he was carrying.
The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has declared the prevailing situation regarding press freedom in Balochistan as “extremely bad” and contrary to democratic standards. A resolution by CPNE stated: “Newspapers are facing severe pressure and hardships, and hindrances are also being created in newspapers distribution while media workers and newspaper sellers are facing severe life threats.” The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has also expressed deep concern over the ever-increasing danger of attacks on working journalists in Balochistan.
Balochistan is the most dangerous province in Pakistan for journalists with 31 killings since 2007. Journalists and media in Balochistan face threats and harassment from insurgent groups as well as state agencies.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ is seriously concerned by the deterioration of the security situation and the increased threats and attacks on media and media staff in Balochistan, Pakistan. The Pakistan authorities must take urgent measures to ensure safety of journalists and media so that the media and journalists can perform their duties without fear.”