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Goodbye Pakistan

By Malik Siraj Akbar

During the past eight years, we, the indigenous majority people of Balochistan, the largest resource-rich province in Pakistan, have experienced extraordinary brutalities. The Pakistani forces have killed the best of our politicians, doctors, lawyers, professors, journalists, and students. During the ongoing conflict, I have lost some of my best friends. Friends with whom I shared my dorm room; those with whom I ate lunch and worked as a journalist. Many of my friends have disappeared while the others are going through trauma.

As a liberal, progressive journalist, I have always advocated a peaceful political solution to the conflict in Balochistan but Islamabad never paid attention to our suggestions. The government agencies killed several Baloch journalists, blocked my online newspaper, The Baloch Hal, threatened to kill me, ran massive abusive online campaigns against me.

Pakistan loves Balochistan’s resources but not its people. A Baloch, whether educated or uneducated, is, at the end of the day, considered as a ‘traitor’. There were so many times I proposed in my articles that insanity should stop and Pakistani forces should end the killing of Balochs. Instead, the post-Musharraf Balochistan has witnessed the new gruesome phenomenon of kill and dump. At least 250 Baloch youths have been tortured to death in the last eight months.

I have always considered myself as a brave reporter but my friends tell me there is a very fine line between bravery and stupidity. But I chose to become a journalist because I wanted to fight injustice.

As a young endangered Baloch journalist who is still committed to exposing human rights violations, particularly from Balochistan, I am announcing a very difficult but important decision of my life. I would like to humbly and respectfully thank the government of the United States of America for granting me asylum in this country where I am sure I will not be judged “by the color of… skin but the content of … character.”

Malik Siraj Akbar is a Hubert Humphrey Fellow at the Center for Public Integrity and is based in Washington, D.C. He founded and edits the online newspaper, The Baloch Hal.

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