In a meeting with the newspaper editor in his Quetta office the other day, the Director-General Public Relations, Government of Balochistan, was found harsh, bitter and used questionable language while exchanging hot words and hurled threats that he will cancel the declaration of 30-year old newspapers.
He was aggressive and very bitter in his entire course of communication, though brief, for an unexplained reason.
He was furious when the Editor posed a direct question about restoration of Government advertisements to these newspapers particularly after the candid orders from the Chief Minister to Principal Secretary who reportedly conveyed the orders to the DGPR immediately after very senior newspaper editorial had an exclusive meeting with the Chief Minister a few days ago.
Presumably this query offended him considering himself more powerful than the Chief Minister. There was no point that a petty functionary dare to cancel declaration of a newspaper which is the most popular among the masses in Balochistan.
Even in most cases, the Provincial Governments are barred from taking such a decision. Suddenly, he draws strength from nowhere and became bold after he came out of his skin surprisingly. Almost all the popular and credible newspapers had very good relations with the Governments in Balochistan regardless of their party affiliations.
The chosen representatives and their Government got unprecedented coverage as a matter of first right merely because of our professional commitment conceding the rights of the chosen representatives first.
The Opposition parties were placed on secondary position as a matter of policy giving priority to the Chief Minister and his policy statement regardless of its impact on the society as a whole. Under the recent developments, the Government has come out of the biggest losers and its important Government decisions are not reaching the people.
For the past seven months, the Government advertisements to Balochistan Express and Daily Azadi were curtailed by 80 per cent and during the past two weeks it was slashed completely for no offence against the State or the people of Balochistan.
It is intended to close down the credible and indigenous newspapers making more than 100 jobless and their families’ penniless while 400 others are involved in indirect employment and thus beneficiaries in the entire country.
Off and on, we have received threats from different sources to close down the newspapers and we paid no heed to it considering it ‘rumour mongering’ or we received the threat through third party who may have their own interests.
For the first time in years we received the direct threat from the DGPR about cancelling the Declaration of the most credible newspapers of Balochistan. It was the short sighted media policy that had forced closed down circulation of all newspapers in the Baloch Mainland. Overwhelming majority of the Press Clubs had made official announcement closing down following threats from the militant.
The Government is yet to assure the journalists that they are safe. The Baloch conflict is going on for the past 15 years and the newspapers managed to send the message of the Government, its leaders and functionaries, to the remotest corners of Balochistan and without any difficulty.
The official crackdown on print media exclusively had provoked the militants to impose the present curbs on print media paralyzing the Government. Newspapers are not a party into the conflict between the Government and the militants.
The Government was unable to open a single station to this date where newspapers are circulated. The unhealthy and criminal mind in the in the media management blamed the newspapers for all the ills for harming their own business interests.
Our newspapers are working purely on commercial lines having nothing to do with politics in any way. It should be loud and clear to all concerned trying to find escape goat for their own follies and mismanagement.
The newspapers will first defend the legitimate interests of employees and their dependents ensuring payment of salaries in time. Similarly, those people partly employed drawn benefits for distribution of newspapers.
Finally, we hope that the Chief Minister will take a final decision on the issue by sacking his entire media team ending their monopoly on the posts for the past two long decades. They had developed vested interests during the decades old stay on the same office and at the same premises.