The murder of Pakistani journalist Abdul Razzak Baloch, whose body was found last week, seven months after the journalist went missing on March 24, is a sad reminder of the challenges journalists face in Pakistan, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.
Baloch, a copy editor for the Balochistan-based newspaper Daily Tawaar, is the eighth journalist to be killed in Pakistan since the beginning of 2013.
IPI Executive Board Member Owais Aslam Ali, secretary general of the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), condemned the abduction, brutal torture and murder of Baloch in the strongest possible terms.
“The media in restive Balochistan province finds itself trapped in the violent conflict between state military and intelligence agencies on one side and the militant secessionist groups on the other,” Ali told IPI. “In spite of directives by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the government has not made any serious effort to end the practice of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of persons it deems to be security risks. Journalists have become prime victims of this policy. It is time the newly-elected government formulates a clear policy to end the practice of enforced disappearances by security and intelligence agencies.”
The PPF issued a statement condemning the murder of Baloch, the full text of which appears below.
Pakistan: Mutilated body of missing journalist found
Aug 23, 2013 – The body of a missing journalist, Haji Abdul Razzak Baloch, a copy editor for the Balochi-language newspaper Daily Tawaar was found on August 21, 2013 from Karachi, the capital of Sindh province. Baloch was missing from Karachi since March 24, 2013. No one has yet claimed the responsibility and the reason for his abduction and murder could not be ascertained. The Daily Tawaar, whose headquarters are in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan, is a pro-Baloch nationalist newspaper that acts as a voice for secessionist groups of Balochistan province. The paper is known for its coverage of the many conflicts between these groups and the government.
Ms. Saeeda Sarbazi, younger sister of deceased Baloch, identified the body as her brother by the clothes he was wearing when he went missing and his feet since only that part of his body was identifiable. The corpse was found from the city outskirts in the remit of Surjani Town police station. The family of Baloch alleged that he was picked up by the personnel of security forces while he was on his way to his office and despite approaching police, courts, human rights organisations and national press, they found no clue of him until Aug 21. Sarbazi alleged that Baloch was a writer and had nothing to do with militancy.
Talking to Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Pervaiz Shaukat, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), condemned the attack and demanded the government institute an independent inquiry into the abduction and the killing of Baloch.
Irfan Saeed, president of the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) said it is alarming that journalists are being targeted and their lives are at stake while performing their professional responsibilities. He said there was a need for comprehensive security plan and strategy so that they can work in a conducive atmosphere.