Another missing journalist
AS has almost become the norm in Waziristan in particular and the country in general, another journalist, Dilawar Khan Wazir of the BBC Urdu Service, has gone missing. In the last six months a number of journalists, known for covering the issues that bother the government, mysteriously disappeared. Be it Mehruddin Marri, Mukesh Rupeta and Sanjay Kumar who were kidnapped and tortured before release or Munir Mengal who is still missing; or Hayatullah Khan who was found murdered, these disappearances do not seem totally to be private enterprise.
Recently the Supreme Court also took notice of such disappearances on the applications of the families of 17 missing persons and directed the government to submit details of the whereabouts of 41 missing persons allegedly kidnapped by the intelligence agencies on the next hearing due on December 1. But Mr Wazir’s incident indicates the lack of the government’s seriousness in finding out how well the Interior Ministry has coordinated with the intelligence agencies, police departments and judiciary for probing these mysterious disappearances, after strict directives by the apex court.
On the face of it, the government brags unendingly, at every level, about granting unprecedented media freedom but actually, in the last year there has been less patience and acceptance than tolerance of free expression. This is confirmed by the Reporters Without Borders annual index of press freedom, which shows that in 2006 we have declined from 150th position to 157th. The government cannot show further indifference to such incidents, as Dilawar Khan’s disappearance has been highlighted by the international organisations of journalists, not just in itself, but as part of a pattern here. If it claims to champion a free press, it should take action against those discouraging the truth, especially in the tribal region, lest they should take it to greater magnitude, making people mistrust the regime’s boasts.