There exists a new determination in our country to silence the written word; the country has already been declared the world’s most dangerous country for journalists by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The toll for this year has risen further — to an alarming seven deaths. Javed Naseer Rind, whose bullet-ridden body was found in Khuzdar, Balochistan, weeks after he was kidnapped from Hub, his hometown, becomes the latest journalist to die a violent death. Clearly, those behind these killings fear the tremendous power of the pen, and the way in which it can be used to shape opinions. They do not wish to allow this moulding of minds to continue, and for the truth to emerge.
Rind wrote for the Urdu-language Daily Tawar, a newspaper that opposes the military’s role in Balochistan, and takes a pro-nationalist stand. This fact makes the ruthless killing of the newsman even more ominous. In the ugly cobweb that hangs over our country, with the spider that lives in its midst threatening to devour all that is good within it, this latest victim is tied in with two strands: he died, it would appear, both as a Baloch nationalist and as a journalist not afraid to turn his thoughts and his findings about events in his home province into sentences and phrases that could reach millions.
The growing determination to stop the dissemination of information is one of the worst tragedies a nation can experience. Rind, and others before him, died because they dared to delve into dangerous territory; to put out in the open what few have done before. Their efforts prevent us from vanishing behind a veil of silence, which would paralyse our minds, our ability to reason and think. This is what specific elements want. But they must be prevented. The state must protect free expression. But civil society groups must also act and take up the cause of these persons, who, like Rind, have died simply for writing what they believe.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2011.