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Urgent Appeal to United Nations: SAVE Balochistan-based newspaper 'Daily Tawar' from Pakistan Military

By Ali Baluch: WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT

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Daily Tawar, a leading Urdu language newspaper in Balochistan, is the only newspaper that exposes Pakistan’s atrocities against the Baloch people and extends the voice of the voiceless people of Balochistan. Daily Tawar (Daily Voice), a Balochistan-based newspaper, has been receiving threats from Pakistani intelligence agencies from the day it started publication, said Khadam Lehri Baloch, editor of Daily Tawar. He also said that despite limited resources and immense difficulties, the newspaper continued to serve the Baloch Nation for the past seven years. Pakistan’s notorious intelligence agencies have used different tactics to harass the staff and news agents at their printing offices in an effort to pressure them to stop working for Daily Tawar. "After they failed to intimidate us with their pressure tactics, they now want to physically eliminate the newspaper and the staff."

The Pakistani government, some years back, banned the publication of Tawar and stopped government advertising in the paper. Pakistan considers Daily Tawar an anti-state newspaper and blames it for conducting propaganda against the country. The paper is also accused of inciting violence among the masses of Balochistan--a senior official expressed this view while talking to Daily Tawar.

Pakistani intelligence agencies left no stone unturned in its efforts to shut down Tawar, but the enormous support and contribution of the Baloch Nation kept their National Paper alive. Undercover Pakistani officials made several attempts to abduct Khadim Lehri, the editor in chief of Daily Tawar, and raided the head office of the newspaper in Karachi. Lala Hameed Baloch a senior journalist of Tawar, was abducted by military forces last year; his mutilated body was found on the outskirts of Gawadar, Balochistan. In addition to Hameed Baloch, several other Baloch journalists who used to write for Daily Tawar were also abducted and later killed under-custody, including Ahmed Dad Baloch, Nawaz Ahmed Marri (photo not available), Rahmatullah Shaheen, Munir Shakir and advocate Ali Sher Kurd.

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It should be noted that Daily Tawar is the only newpaper where all the above-named Baloch journalists and other staff members work free of cost. Unfortunately in this era of the so-called democratic government, which claims to believe in freedom of the press, Daily Tawar faces many difficulties such as threats from agencies and burning of its copies by pro-establishment parties/elements. Moreover, a few days back, Mr. Naseer Rind Baloch, an ex sub editor and a serving staff member of Daily Tawar, was abducted from Hub city of Balochistan by Pakistani intelligence agencies. Mr. Rind is still being held at some unknown location and his fate remains unknown. Not only do Tawar’s reporters and correspondents feel insecure, but every Baloch journalist who either works for any Balochi TV channel or newspaper is at risk of being abducted or killed by Pakistani security agencies. Balochistan is going through difficult times and it is especially a testing time for enlightened members of society, including students, lawyers and journalists.

According to latest reports, Tawar was once again surrounded by Pakistani intelligence agencies in Karachi and government forces are not allowing journalistd to work properly. The staff of Tawar is being followed from home to work and work to home, round the clock. A senior journalist from Daily Tawar, on the condition of anonymity, said that “unknown men wearing plain clothes are creating problems for us while coming into the office; they threaten us to leave Tawar and cut the electricity supply during working hours, ask for Khadam Lehri and misbehave with us.” Today Daily Tawar wrote that: “Tawar once again is surrounded by military forces, facing difficulties for its publication and the lives of working journalists are in danger”.

Balochistan, which currently presents the scene of a military concentration camp, is facing numerous difficulties at the hands of Pakistan. Baloch journalists, including those working for Daily Tawar, have already sought help from international human rights organizations and the International Union of Journalists to help secure the lives of Baloch journalists and to put pressure on Pakistani security agencies to stop harassing, abducting and killing Baloch journalists. If the organisations working for freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of the media remain silent over such criminal acts of Pakistan, then journalism in Balochistan will vanish and the voices of the people of occupied Balochistan cannot reach the wider world.

We urge Reporters without Borders, International Association of Journalists, International Union of Journalists, Union of Journalists, and Pakistan FUJ to call emergency meetings and urge Pakistan to stop harassing and intimidating the entire crew of Daily Tawar.

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