Mohd Khan Is No More

Let me share the most embarrassing piece of journalism I have ever done.

June 27, 2010 was a hot Sunday when I was out at a park with my family. I got a text message from Munir Ahmed Jan, the then press secretary of Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Raisani. The news-like text message condemned the killing of journalist Faiz Mohammad Sasoli. I jumped out of my bench with disbelief  and utter distrust. He was one of my best journalist friends (by that time I had not realized that it was not my friend whose name was in fact Mohamamd Khan Sasoli while the guy killed was Faiz Sasoli). I was almost trembling with frustration as I had spent a lot of time with Mohammad Khan on a number of occasions.

Hence, I gave up everything and immediately rushed home to “break” the news of his killing on The Baloch Hal. I was damn sure that I would have the  exclusive pictures of Mohammad Khan Sasoli (who I had still not realized was not the murdered journalist) because he had recently participated in a workshop I had organized for the journalists of Balochistan. So, here I start jotting down the news, cropping his pictures and releasing the most detailed news online.

With the pressing of the “publish” button, the story reached the whole world within seconds. News agencies lifted the story from my newspaper and released it immediately to hundreds of newspapers while the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) issued a statement of condemnation by Ctr+Copying the whole of our report and sending it to scores of other organizations.

After almost one hour, as I watched the news on television, I shouted out.

“Hold on,” I said.

Is it Mohammad Sasoli or Faiz Sasoli?

I screamed happily and embarrassingly at the same time, “Oh shit. He (my friend Mohd Khan) is alive. But how am I going to undo the blunder I committed by releasing the wrong name and picture for the slain journalist.”

I wasted no more time. Edited the story and updated the online report. It was all in vain. The damage had already been done.

The next day, a couple of newspapers in Quetta published Mohammad Khan Sasoli’s (instead of Faiz Sasoli’s) picture  on their front pages which they had lifted from The Bloch Hal even though we had abruptly replaced it.

I felt guilty, ashamed and bad about my haste in breaking the ‘story’.

My journalist friend, Mohammad Khan Sasoli, who was alive, called me up.

It was the first time both off us did not start our conversation with “hello”. There was a loud laughter from both the sides as the lines got connected.

” Waja, you got me killed,” he said, still laughing. “Everyone is telling me Malik released the news of my death but I am alive. I know you did not do it in bad faith.”

I reminded him of his recent conversations with us about the threats the journalists in Khuzdar were facing.

I said I had gone totally shocked after hearing about the killing of a journalist with a name similar to his.

“I am sure you can understand how much friends like you mean to me,” I told Mohammad Khan, who had worked as the stringer in Khuzdar of Daily Aaj Kal, for which I was the Balochistan Bureau Chief. He instantly rushed to Quetta in April when I called him on the phone to come to Quetta to attend a media workshop which Balochistan Institute for Development (BIFD) organized with the collaboration of National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

It was deeply shocking to hear today that the same journalist friend of mine had  finally been shot dead in Khuzdar while returning home. This time, I tried to confirm at least from five sources before writing anything but everybody confirmed that it was safe to go ahead and run the story with his photo.

Mohammad Khan is no more!

Mohammad Khan was the president of Khuzdar Press Club. He worked for Dawn News and Balochistan Times. He is the third journalist from Khuzdar to be killed in the recent times, others being Haji Wasey Ahmed and Faiz Mohammad Sasoli. The murder has been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists and PFUJ. No one still knows who killed him. Balochistan has, however, lost another brave and highly committed journalist. In my last meeting with him at Kamal Chargha near Quetta’s Taxi Stand, he had told me that everyone was running behind the journalists in Khuzdar.

“There are threats from all sides. Everyone wants us to write in their favor. We cant’ give up this profession. All that I wish is that I continue my profession with integrity and public trust,” he said as we pushed our chairs back to leave the restaurant after finishing a plate of french fries and two cups of tea each

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