Baluch journalist reported missing in Karachi

New York, March 28, 2013–Pakistani authorities should determine the whereabouts of a Baluch journalist living in Karachi who was last seen on March 24, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Haji Abdul Razzaq Baloch was last seen leaving his friend’s house in the Liyari neighborhood of Karachi, according to news reports. Razzaq has worked as a copy editor for the news desk of the Urdu-language pro-Baluch nationalist newspaper Daily Tawar, the reports said. He is also a member of the Baluch National Movement, a nationalist political organization.

It is unclear if Razzaq had covered any sensitive stories for Daily Tawar. The paper is known for its coverage of the many conflicts between rival groups and the government.

In a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday, Razzaq’s family members accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of being responsible for the abduction, but did not elaborate. CPJ research shows that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies have been suspected in a number of disappearances, including the 2011 abduction and murder of Saleem Shahzad.

Razzaq’s family said they were unable to find any clues to Razzaq’s whereabouts despite conducting an intensive three-day search. They also expressed fear that the journalist’s body would be found on some street or river, similar to how several Baluch citizens are found after going missing in Baluchistan or Karachi. The family urged human rights organizations, civil society groups, and the chief justice of Pakistan to do their part to ensure Razzaq’s return.

Another journalist from the Daily Tawar was found dead after being reported missing in Baluchistan in September 2011. Javed Naseer Rind was found with multiple bullet wounds in his head and chest and his body showed signs of torture, news reports said. Shortly after Rind disappeared, Khadim Lehri, the Daily Tawar‘s editor, reported receiving threats and went into hiding, reports said.

Razzaq worked for the Daily Tawar since 2009, but left the newspaper after Rind’s murder, according to his friend who spoke to CPJ by email. Razzaq resumed his work at the paper in December 2012.

“Baluch journalists are among the most vulnerable members of the press in Pakistan,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Authorities must investigate Abdul Razzaq Baloch’s disappearance and do all in their power to ensure his safe return.”

  • For more data and analysis on Pakistan, visit CPJ’s Attacks on the Press.