Balochistan: who will tell the truth?

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Blogging seems to be on a rise in Pakistani province of Balochistan. With threats to journalists in their doing their field work heading northwards blogging seems like a way to fill the void of information emerging out of the province.

Bloggers hope they will succeed to bring about an Arab spring like revolution in Balochistan. Malik Siraj Akbar, journalist and blogger, had to move out of the region and take refuge in the US due to alleged threats from secret agencies, he had to take refugees there for his safety, says, he says misses home very much.

“At 22, I became the bureau chief of a national newspaper; I believed that I would have a bright future in Balochistan,”says Akbar talking about Baluch and Balochistan his original story on which he lost his homeland.

He was compelled to leave his home town but he didn’t give up his story.

Online newspaper The Baloch Haal, which he used to run in Quetta owing to which he received terror threats from Pakistani army and intelligence agencies, is running now operating out of peaceful surrounding of Washington.

“Our newspaper; isn’t running like we expected it to. We wanted to publish news from Balochistan, but we couldn’t do it in time, because our reporters have security problems in the interiors of Balochistan” says Akbar.

On the commands of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Pakistan telecommunication authority (PTA) has blocked more than 4000 websites and blogs, some of which are regarding emerging issues from Balochistan, among them is Akbar’s The Baloch Haal.

A PTA official while talking to BBC cleared that PTA has no control over the content of websites.

He stated, by following the instructions of foreign affairs committee they only impose restriction on foreign obscene and abusive websites. Answering to a question whether in this act are some Balochi sites are included? He added, “Foreign websites are chosen and counted; PTA doesn’t interfere with such elements.”

On following the decision the official said, “Committee for foreign affairs look at these all, which is headed by ministry of information technology where intelligence agencies representatives also sit and observe.”

“Social media websites and blogs are considered the best procedure of expression in the world; here in Pakistan ‘we find no fundamental rights of expression’ states young Akbar.

Bytes for all, an organization working for rights related to internet recently published a report about illegal detention of journalists, lawyers, students. What comes out is that extra judicial killings and violence in Baluchistan have increased, such events regularly happens in Balochistan and media turns a deaf ear.

Recently some Baloch nationalist organizations boycotted the Urdu news channel in protest, claiming that Pakistani media is silent over the rotten situation in Baluchistan.

Aurangzeb khan an official of inter media a nongovernmental organization working for freedom of press said, “Whatever is happening in Baluchistan is not reflected accurately in Pakistani mainstream media. News comes, but neither the voices of local people appear nor are they studied deeply.”

Khan further stated, “Journalism in Balochistan is suffering from anarchy, and journalists have to cover such events which actually are not news, but they are forced to cover them under pressure.”

Last year Khan prepared a report for inter media Media under threat in Balochistan which identified three threats to the media; Army, militants and insurgents.

Due to these three pressure the real picture of Balochistan has not come in media. But it’s the people of Balochistan responsible who are responsible along with ISI,MI,FC and army for rotten situation in Balochistan.

Given such situation the roles of bloggers become more important to bring Balochistan’s news into media.

Akbar believes the world is watching different blogs regarding the unfavorable conditions in Balochistan. “The kidnapping of UN official for refugees’ John Saluki was broken by bloggers, messages to us were coming from USA and we kept on telling them about the latest situation,” he says.

Question now is Can bloggers reflect the true pictures?

Like Akbar all bloggers are not journalists, Akbar says oversight and investigation is a way for bloggers to be successful.

As bloggers and online enthusiasts battle their way to dig and dish information out of Balochistan, it will be interesting to see if another Arab spring is on its way or not.

Special Thanks to BBC Urdu

Translated By Somalan Baloch

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