The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed at news that two journalists from the Azadi daily have been reported kidnapped in Baluchistan, just three weeks after the murder of a senior journalist in Quetta.
According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, Hameed Baluch and Khalid Khosa, both journalists at the Azadi daily, have been reported missing to police by their families. Khosa was last seen on February 29 at a press conference in the southern Baluch town of Nasirabad. Baluch was reportedly abducted on March 3 in Taftan, close to Pakistan’s border with Iran.
No one has claimed responsibility.
The PFUJ reports that in the past five years, at least 12 journalists have been abducted in Pakistan. While most of the victims were freed, they endured intense interrogation and physical and psychological torture.
Bordering Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Baluchistan is one of the most dangerous zones for journalists in Pakistan. Chishti Mujahid, a senior journalist for Akbar-e-Jehan, a leading weekly magazine, was murdered in Quetta, the provincial capital, in a targeted attack on February 9.
Five journalists were injured in Khuzdar city in Baluchistan when a remote-controlled bomb was detonated near a press conference on February 12 in the lead-up to Pakistan’s national elections on February 18.
According to the PFUJ, journalists working in Baluchistan are frequently caught in crossfire in the conflict between security forces and militant and tribal groups in the area.
“The disappearance of Hammed Baluch and Khalid Khosa in Baluchistan is very distressing news, particularly in light of the growing disrespect of journalists’ rights and press freedom throughout 2007,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“The IFJ is concerned for the personal safety of Baluch and Khosa and demands local authorities immediately follow all avenues of investigation to locate the two journalists before they are harmed in any way.”
The IFJ joins the PFUJ in expressing outright condemnation of abduction as a violent and often life-endangering attack on individual journalists and as a strategy for opponents of a free media and free expression to encourage a media environment of fear and self-censorship.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries