Journalists or Generals?

My presentation today on the Threats to Defenders of Democracy in Balochistan at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) went very well. I was so glad to see people from the US government, media, think-tanks and civil society attend the talk on Balochistan with a great interest.

After the Congressional hearing on Balochistan in February, 2011, I think it was the most attended event on Balochistan held in Washington DC in the recent times. Sadly, the Pakistani media, including journalists from several reputed liberal newspapers and private news channels, had decided to boycott the event. The Pakistani journalists, who had all been invited, had reportedly said the event was actually ‘anti-Pakistan’ due to which they chose to boycott it.

“Are they journalists or generals?” Tweeted  a friend when I shared the news on Twitter. I hardly get surprised over such behavior of the Pakistani media. Experts say, the Pakistani secret services put many journalists on their payroll as well. Sometimes, you don’t have to be a paid by the Pakistani authorities to express your contempt for the people of the periphery if you come from urban Pakistani elite.

It was reassuring that some people with a more sober approach toward minority rights had a positive view of the talk.

“I attended and found the speech factual. It did not make any claims that could not be justified,” said respected rights activist Andrew Eiva, “This was the most concise, precise, and credible presentation of the Baluch case I have heard in Washington in three years.”

For those who missed the talk, I will soon share the link to the video. Also, the power point slides will also go public for those who are interested to use the material for some reference. However, as I said during my talk today, the views expressed in the presentation or my blog posts are all personal and do not share the policy of NED. Thus, recommendations in the talk should be attributed to me not NED.


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