In the era of the social and electronic media, privacy has become a problem even for heads of world powers like the chancellor of Germany or the prime ministers of France and the UK.
Unfortunately, in the Third World, the media is still dictated by the establishment. It also suffers from self-censorship due to the fear of loss of life or becoming deprived of government advertisements that are the main source of media finance.
Here in the insurgency-ridden Balochistan province of Pakistan, there is a total media blackout. Local newspapers and the electronic media only present the government’s narrative in Balochistan where an armed struggle for an independent state is going on for the last 17 years.
The Inter-Services Public Relation (ISPR) has ordered the media to only present the state’s narrative. They are punished if, by mistake, any coverage is given to the Baloch perspective.
While the international media is totally banned in Balochistan and the local media is dictated by the state, a Baloch militant organization has announced a boycott call against the local media saying they are stuck with the government’s policy ignoring the military operations which continue for the last 17 years.
The boycott of the media continues for the last two months while the government, media owners and human right organizations remain unmoved.
Civilian Baloch are being kidnapped and forcibly disappeared, and their mutilated bodies are found on roadsides.
In recent months, Pakistani has gone one step further and its gunship helicopters have targeted women and children repeating the Bangladesh history.
During military raids, harassment and molestation of women is a common practice. During a search operation in the Dasht area of the Kech district, the army separated women from men and raped a young woman.
This news has come to the notice of the media but the human rights organizations have sealed their lips in this regard.
Today Balochistan is suffering from a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of Baloch have migrated from their homes and have shifted to other areas of Balochistan or Sindh. But the personnel of intelligence agencies, like sniffer dogs, chase them everywhere.
Last month eight-year-old Aftab, human rights activist Nawaz Atta and many other Baloch youths were abducted in Karachi from their house. A young woman was thrown from the second floor of her house and she is currently hospitalized due to a fracture in the backbone.
The irony is that a student of the Karachi University was taken away by the agencies in the broad day light from the university’s canteen.
Relatives of the thousands of missing persons do not even dare to lodge an FIR as they are scared for the safety of their loved ones. The protest of Mama Qadeer is an example for others. When he lodged an FIR for his son Jalil Reki who had been taken away by agencies from Quetta, Mama Qadeer found his mutilated body from Mand in the district Kech.
The media boycott of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) has been supported by other Baloch organizations, but the silence of the world powers, which call themselves the champion of the freedom of speech, is a question mark.
Although the boycott continues, the question remains about the silence of the world in the face of media blackout in Balochistan and the massacre of the Baloch people.