The closure of Daily Asaap, an Urdu newspaper from Balochistan, has gone unnoticed in great parts of Pakistan. The closure of the widely read and respected newspaper is followed by an assissination attempt on the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper in February this year. A few days before the newspaper was closed down, the main office of Daily Asaap in Quetta was surrounded by Frontier Constabulary troops and Intelligence agencies officials. It is as clear as daylight that the newspaper has been “voluntarily” shut down due to permanent intimidation and harassment caused by the troops deployed at the gate of the newspaper.
It is highly disconcerting that no major newspaper, news channel, or organization of journalists has taken up this issue in any substantial manner. While the media of Pakistan considers it fit and proper to raise the issue of lawyers’ hooliganism, and rightly so, what stops them from launching a full-fledged campaign against a savage attack on the freedom of speech in Balochistan? Where are the demonstrations, road blocks, and hour long programs? One would expect the media to come out with all strength in defense of free speech and against the harassment of journalists. Sadly, this is not the case.
The closure of Daily Asaap will further alienate Balochistan from the rest of the country. The major perception in Balochistan is that people in the rest of Pakistan, particularly in Punjab, are the least bothered by any occurrence in Balochistan no matter how grave. The silence on the closure of Daily Asaap will further strengthen this perception. While the State agencies hopelessly try to find causes of Baloch grievances in foreign powers, it is we as the people of Pakistan who need to introspect to find where we have wronged the Baloch people.