SAJA Convention, New York
I was invited in New York to speak at the annual convention of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) in a panel discussion about the perils of reporting in Pakistan.
The panel discussion was moderated by Vikas Bajaj, the Mumbai correspondent of The New York Times while the panelists included, besides me, distinguished Pakistani journalist, filmmaker and peace activist Beena Sarwar, renowned columnist of Dawn newspaper, Kamran Shafi, and David Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from the New York Times, who had previously been kidnapped by the Taliban.
A lot of people attended the panel discussion which was in fact beyond my expectations because it was raining heavily outside and I thought many people may not show up.
We spoke about different dimensions of threats the reporters face while working in the field of journalism inside Pakistan.
The audience asked pertinent questions about the level of freedom the media enjoys in Pakistan.
I criticized the Pakistani media and groups working for the rights of the journalists for totally ignoring the coverage of Balochistan and not raising voice for the Baloch journalists who were killed.
I said I surely felt sorry over the killing of Saleem Shahzad but it would feel much more professional if the journalists all over Pakistan equally condemned the killing of Baloch reporters whose murders even do not get reported. I also cited the assisination attempt on the editor of Daily Asaap, Jan Mohammad Dashti and the siege of Daily Asaap, Daily Azadi and Daily Balochistan Express by the Frontier Corps.
It was reassuring to see so many people already knowing The Baloch Hal and appreciating our work. I met several people who said they looked at The Baloch Hal as a liberal voice from Balochistan which stood for freedom of expression despite all challenges and restrictions.
I found the SAJA forum as a wonderful place to network with some amazing professionals from the US and South Asia.