Pakistan Press Foundation commemorates the ninth death anniversary of slain journalist Abdul Haq Baloch

Nine years ago on September 29, 2012, Abdul Haq Baloch 37, correspondent for ARY News and Secretary General of Khuzdar Press Club, was murdered on his way back to home from Khuzdar Press Club after attending a meeting. Four masked men on motorcycles opened fire on his car, approximately 100 yards away from the press club. Baloch was taken to the hospital where he died of severe injuries during the treatment. He left behind a widow and two sons.

Police registered the case against unidentified gunmen in Khuzdar Police Station on September 29, 2012, with the FIR no. 140/29.9.2010 u/s 302 QD, 34 PPC, 7ATA and the case was presented to District and Sessions Judge Khuzdar.

While talking to PPF, Amanullah, SHO City Police Station, told that the case is categorized as Class-A, Untraced, which means no accused has been arrested as yet and case is still under Investigation. The killers are still unidentified and the investigation of the case has been stopped.

The former Minister Rehman Malik announced that the judicial commission to investigate the killing of Abdul Haq Baloch, he also established a reward of 2.5 million for someone helping in identifying Baloch’s killers.

In April 2015, Home Department,Quetta  Government of Balochistan, under sub-section (1) of Section (3) of Balochistan Tribunal Inquiry Ordinance, 1969, appointed District and Sessions Judge Khuzdar for tribunal inquiry on the murder of slain journalists however, even after the passage of one year since the announcement of formation of tribunal the killers of murdered journalist could not be identified. Abdul Razzaq, brother of Haq, said the family has not been informed about any findings of the inquiry tribunal.

Abdul Razzaq, brother of Abdul Haq Baloch told PPF that “Abdul Haq Baloch received death threats from different militant groups one of them called him and mentioned that his name is at the top of their hit list and the very next day they called to apologize that they mistakenly called him. Number of years have passed and the case still unresolved he is not satisfied with the investigation and police is clueless about the accused. He stated: “My brother’s case is just a file, kept in the cupboard and nothing else” The Interior Minister Rehman compensated the family with 10 lakhs and the organization (ARY) pay the amount of rupees seven thousand every month”.

Essa Tareen, President of Balochistan Union of Journalists, told PPF that he received threatening phone call from BLA, to spread the message among all journalists and news organizations that either provide proper coverage to BLA activities or face dire consequences.

According to press reports then Mir Jang Baloch, the spokesman of BMDA on a phone call to Noushki Press Club said the organization will target those journalists who are working as informers of separatist groups, Baloch Republican Army and Baloch Liberation Army.

Mustafa Tareen Bureau Chief, ARY News Quetta, told PPF that the law and order situation in Khuzdar was dangerous for journalists and politicians. Baloch was threatened by militant groups but it is not necessary that he was killed by them, there are several militant groups functional in the area and anyone can be involved in his murder. As security and investigation departments could not resolve the matter no one can name the culprits however, Baloch has no personal conflict with anyone. The judicial commission made by government also failed.

Discussing about Abdul Haq Baloch Hamid Mir mentioned that Baloch was threatened by Baloch Musallah Defa Army (BMDA), because he was working with missing person. He also stated that security forces were also angry because Baloch was closely working with families of missing person and presenting their cases before Quetta bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Shehzada  Zulfiqar, President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists told PPF that Abdul Haq Baloch was in the list of 24 Journalists, murdered for their journalistic work but their cases are now closed.

Abdullah Shehwani, President, Khuzdar Press Club, told PPF that Abdul Haq Baloch had been receiving threats from Baloch Musallah Defa Army since November 2011, and had subsequently been named on a hit list issued by a BMDA spokesman

On August 26, 2020, Allah Bukhsh Nadeem, who was President of Khuzdar Press Club in 2012, told PPF that “In 2012 eight journalists were killed and authorities filed an FIR against unknown people. No accused has been arrested and no proper investigation has been done. Itwas difficult to perform journalistic duties in Balochistan as there are a lot of elements and groups who force, harass and threaten journalist to publish their narrative which is not in our capacity, we are not the authority to decide what will be published or on-aired.

According to committee to protect journalists tensions with the press had escalated after the Baluchistan High Court barred news coverage of banned groups in October 2011. Several of the banned groups began threatening local journalists for not reporting their militant operations.

Efforts were made by PFUJ and government gave rights to district and session judges for the ease of murdered/killed journalist families. The families refused to peruse the cases and cooperate due to life threat by murderers.