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Dire conditions and insecurity confront Balochistan journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - November 9, 2009 - Journalists and media workers operating in Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province, operate in an extremely difficult and tense environment. A persistent long-running separatist movement in the province is focused on securing local control of the area's rich natural resources and defending the identity and rights of the Baloch community. Even as the province is considered by some as "Taliban Central", the province's difficulties do not attract international headlines in the same way as insurgencies in North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Yet media personnel in Balochistan contend with alarmingly regular violence and threats as a consequence of their work, leading to widespread self-censorship. The difficulties are compounded by a historic failure to provide adequate professional training for local media personnel, the unwillingness of media proprietors to pay reasonable wages and support the safety of their workers, and a related attitude among some that media work is not a profession but merely a means to secure financial or political benefits by other means.

The following report was commissioned by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), in alliance with its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), to assess the situation on the ground for journalists working in an area from which little information is usually available.

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