Siddiq Baloch – commonly called Mama” – was the strongest and most vocalist spokesman for the rights of downtrodden people of backward province of Balochistan. Baloch having a cherished and distinguished journalistic career on his credit was a highly professional journalist, who penned down issues concerning Pakistan in general and Balochistan in particular in an articulate way that after going through his essays, readers didn’t go for another article on the particular issue. Baloch was not only a journalist of high professional approach but an eye witness of events on the political front and economic arena in Balochistan. He also remained associated with political set up in early seventies when Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo was Governor of Balochistan. Baloch’s tenure as Press Secretary of Bizenjo was short lived after change of guards in Balochistan in Z. A. Bhutto era. It was followed by ordeals for Baloch, who finally landed in jail in known Hyderabad Conspiracy Case. Once Baloch was out of jail, he again jumped into foray of journalism and this was the phase of his life that earned him not only fame but a respect that no journalist from Balochistan ever received. The most distinguished feature Siddiq Baloch’s journalistic career is that it was embedded with professional approach and conduct entirely. He never indulged in mudslinging against anyone and always talked and wrote in purely ethical way on the issues concerning Balochistan and Pakistan. Baloch started his journalistic career from Karachi after completing his formal education. Hailing from Lyari – the old town of Karachi – Baloch was probably the first person from the locality to start the journalism in English by joining the Dawn newspaper. Baloch left deep imprints while working for Dawn to highlight the national as well as the local issues in the English Daily. Because of his conduct and approach to highlight the issues, Baloch earned a respectable name what his colleagues narrate. After his short stint with Bizenjo Sahab as his press secretary and languishing in jail in Hyderabad Conspiracy Case, Baloch embarked upon a project to publish a newspaper. Because of his credentials as known journalist in English journalism, Baloch started “Sindh Express,” an English Daily with one of his colleague from Karachi. This was his first experience to publish his own newspaper, which he left to go for another venture, which was considered not viable at that time because of situation in Balochistan. First, he left his birth place Lyari to settle in Quetta – the capital of Balochistan – and then started his own English Daily “Balochistan Express”. This was the first English Daily that was started by a Baloch in the province. Baloch Sahab put his all efforts and energies to make this venture success and these finally yielded the fruits when his English daily was considered to be sole voice for the rights of the province and its people. He later started Urdu Daily Azadi from Quetta too and that also made big strides in the journalism field of the province. The success of these two newspapers was not possible without the efforts and hard work of Siddiq Baloch, who not only nurtured these two newspapers but stood steadfast when hard times came for these two publications. The journalism in Pakistan is not a “bed of roses” in Pakistan and it is literally “path strewn with thorns” in Balochistan where the journalists have to tread on a difficult path while discharging their professional duties. Balochistan remained restless over the decades because of central government’s treatment to province as well as the insurgencies erupted due to domestically wrong policies as well as the conspiracies hatched by the foreign forces. To live in the restive province is not an easy thing what to talk about “digging out the truth” being journalist. Baloch did this uphill task in a very professional way and faced hardships and threats many times, but he never let his pen to hide the facts in the face of threats and intimidation. He had the ability to craft the news in such fashion that it caught the eyes of the readers and his articles were filled with undisputable facts that no one can deny them. I had the honour to meet him and learn from him a lot from Baloch Sahab. During my stay in Islamabad for five years, whenever Siddiq Balcoh the visited the capital city, I volunteered my services to him to drive him wherever he went. There were quite useful discussions on the national issues especially those related to Balochistan. He was an authority on issues concerning the province and learnt a lot from him whenever met him. My return to Karachi also provided me the opportunity to meet Siddiq Baloch when he spent the winter season in Karachi to escape from the extreme cold of Quetta because of his ailing health conditions. Whenever he visited Karachi Press Club, he was encircled by senior and juniors to learn something from him and I was the fortunate one among them. I remembered month of January 2018 when I met last time. Though he came for spending two months here, but because of some emergency situation, he had to rush back to Quetta, where extreme cold played havoc with his health so much so that he was flown to Karachi for treatment. The chilly weather of Quetta did so much damage that he couldn’t recover and breathed his last in Karachi, where he was born more than seventy years back. Siddiq Baloch is no more with us, but he left a rich legacy in the form of Balochistan Express and Daily Azadi behind him.
The Writer is a Journalist based in Karachi.