Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Journalists are Blacklisted in Baluchistan by Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a series of commitments to safeguard press freedom during a meeting with a CPJ delegation last week. Among them was a pledge to speak out in support of media freedom and against attacks on journalists, particularly in high-conflict areas like Baluchistan.  Baluchistan--Pakistan's largest province by area--has been mired in a separatist conflict since the inception of Pakistan in 1947.  Some journalists have termed Baluchistan Pakistan's black hole. Local journalists work in a climate of intense intimidation and risk being killed by an array of actors, including Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies, state-sponsored anti-separatist militant groups, pro-Taliban groups, and Baluch separatists. Foreign journalists seeking to cover the restive province face tight restrictions. Last month, Pakistani authorities denied British journalist Willem Marx an entry visa to participate in a panel on reporting in Pakistan at the Lahore Literary Festival. The apparent reason: his newly released book, Balochistan at a Crossroads. Pakistaniconsular staff in New York informed Marx he was not welcome in the country. Marx told CPJ that after much probing, the consular official muttered to him, "It was the agencies"--a term used for Pakistan's intelligence apparatus, which includes the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 

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