5-8-2013By Christopher Plummer
Whitney Ellsworth Fellow
On March 24, 2013, Haji Abdul Razzaq Baloch, a Baluch journalist living in Karachi, Pakistan, left his friend’s house and has not been seen since. Relatives allege that he was abducted by the Pakistani intelligence services, which have been implicated in a number of disappearances.
Abductions are a common threat to journalists in Pakistan. In 2011, one Razzaq’s colleagues at the The Daily Tawar disappeared. His body was found shortly after, riddled with bullets.
Razzaq was a member of the Baluch National movement, and his newspaper, The Daily Tawar, was covering the conflict in Baluchistan. Shortly after Razzaq’s disappearance, masked men raided The Daily Tawar’s offices, stealing computers and burning records.
As Human Rights First has reported, journalists and bloggers in Pakistan face the additional threat of blasphemy laws. These laws can create an atmosphere of intolerance in which governments restrict free expression and freedom of the press.
In honor of World Press Freedom Day, the United States needs to establish a consistent policy of support with journalists and human rights defenders. U.S. support is crucial in bolstering the work of journalists around the world and ensuring their protection.