Balochistan is the second most dangerous place after Afghanistan for journalists as they are under serious threats to their lives. These views were expressed by senior journalists during a conference held at the Quetta press club on Wednesday to pay tribute to senior journalist, Akhtar Mirza, who died of cardiac arrest two months ago.
According to journalists, Mirza, 42, Resident Editor of an Urdu daily in Quetta, was working under immense pressure that led to his deteriorating health. President of Quetta press club Saleem Shahid, senior journalists Anwar Sajidi, Raza-ur-Rehman, Essa Tareen and others also spoke on the occasion.
“Balochistan is a conflict zone and journalists are most vulnerable here. Intolerance prevails among political parties, armed groups and government institutions, as everyone wants extensive and exclusive coverage. They pressurise reporters and editors and sometimes send threats,” opined one of the speakers.
The participants agreed that it was the responsibility of journalists to be careful while reporting sensitive issues since there are no security arrangements for journalists. Considering the present circumstances it would be useless to demand protection from the government, they added.
Over 14 journalists have been killed so far over the past couple of years in Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2012.