Journalist Siddique Baloch passes away
KARACHI: Veteran journalist Siddique Baloch, the editor of Quetta-based English daily Balochistan Express, and Azadi, an Urdu newspaper, passed away here on Tuesday early morning. He was 78.
Later in the day, his funeral prayers were offered at Eidgah Mosque in Chakiwara, which were attended, besides relatives and friends, by a large number of journalists. He was laid to rest at Mewa Shah Graveyard.
Until the end of his life, Siddique Baloch was keen to write editorials for his newspapers. During a medical check-up on Monday night he asked his physician if a laptop could be arranged for him to keep himself engaged and kill boredom while lying on the bed.
Muhammad Siddique Baloch, who was born in Lyari in 1940, graduated from SM Arts and Commerce College, Karachi. After obtaining Masters degree in Economics from the University of Karachi, he launched his career in journalism by joining Pakistan’s premier English daily Dawn, Karachi, as staff reporter in 1968.
He resigned from Dawn in 1972 to become press secretary to the then governor of Balochistan Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo. After eight months when the National Awami Party-led government in Balochistan was removed, he was imprisoned along with the NAP leaders and spent four and half years in jail with them.
After being released from the prison along with the NAP leaders in 1977, Siddique Baloch rejoined Dawn as senior reporter and remained associated with the newspaper until 1989 when he launched his own newspaper, Sindh Express, along with Nasir Brohi, another veteran journalist. But the publication could not survive for want of business and had to be closed after two years. In 1992 Siddique Baloch shifted to Quetta from where he launched Balochistan Express, and later in 2000 started his Urdu publication Azadi.
Siddique Baloch, who had command over English, Urdu, Balochi and Sindhi languages, also authored a couple of books on the economy and natural resources of Balochistan.
A loveable and fearless person, Siddique Baloch was committed to the cause of creating an egalitarian society in the country. In his youth, he participated in the struggle for the rights of students and was elected president of the SM College Students Union. During his journalistic career he was elected president of the Karachi Union of Journalists, executive committee member of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and vice president of the Karachi Press Club a number of times.
He was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and travelled to China and India for its treatment but could not be fully cured and had to travel to India for annual medical check-up. According to his close friends, a stent was installed in his lever but it needed replacement some 18 months ago. However, due to tension between Pakistan and India, he could not get a visa to travel to India and, as a result, his condition started deteriorating.
His doctors had advised him against staying in Quetta due to its harsh weather but for his commitment to journalism, he would not like to remain bedridden and regularly travelled between Quetta and Karachi to discharge his professional responsibilities.
In the freezing weather of Quetta when mercury dropped below minus mark, his health deteriorated last week. After vomiting and breathing problems, he was brought to Karachi last Sunday and admitted to the Laiquat National Hospital, where he passed away peacefully in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Siddique Baloch, whose wife died in 2012, has left behind three daughters and five sons — Muhammad Arif, Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Tariq, Muhammad Zafar and Muhammad Sadiq.
The eldest son, Muhammad Arif, works as bureau chief of Balochistan Express and Azadi in Karachi while his four brothers look after the publications in Quetta.