Online Edition of Another Baloch Newspaper, Daily Tawar, Blocked

The Baloch Hal News

MASTUNG/KARACHI: Authorities in Pakistan have allegedly banned the online edition of a popular Urdu language newspaper which pursues a critical editorial approach toward the government policies.

According to the details, the online edition of Daily Tawar, the most widely quoted Urdu newspaper of Balochistan with a staunch pro-nationalist policy, has been blocked by the government authorities in order to deny access to local and international readers. Viewers of the site said since the last one week they had been receiving one message on the newspaper’s home page saying that it was inaccessible because of containing technically harmful material. However, the site is still accessible via proxies such as Vtunnel.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had previously banned the first online English language newspaper of the restive province, The Baloch Hal, in November 2010 allegedly on the instructions of the military authorities. The online newspaper’s site is still not accessible in certain parts of Pakistan with the government unwilling to clearly state the reasons for such a blocked of a liberal and progressive newspaper.

Banning online newspapers, websites and blogs has been a consistent government policy in Balochistan where the Amnesty International recently called upon Islamabad to offer an accountability for the government’s “kill and dump” policy in the insurgency-stricken province.

Past Tense

The government and media relations in Balochistan have been very tense in the past few years in the province since the inception of a military operation. Several journalists have been killed, kidnapped, tortured and threatened while performing their professional responsibilities. Officials have also shut down dozens of websites and portals criticizing the government policies.

A leading Baloch newspaper, Daily Asaap, was forced to shut down by the government functionaries two yeas ago after the security forces laid a siege of the paper in Quetta. The offices of Daily Balochistan Express and Daily Azadi were also besieged by the government in the recent past to interfere in their editorial policies.

CONDEMNATION

Meanwhile, the Canada-based Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC) has condemned what it called as “the brutal act of Pakistani security agencies to silence the voices of freedom of expression by blocking the web site of a newspaper…known for its critical coverage of the military operation and gross human rights violation committed by  the Pakistan Army against secular forces in the occupied Balochistan.”

No government official was available for comment when approached by The Baloch Hal to ascertain the official stance on the ban on the Baloch newspaper site.