With reference to Anita Joshua's article “A festering wound in Pakistan” published in The Hindu on February 29, M. Khalid Sarwar , Minister, Press, Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, says:
I am really surprised to see such a biased and one-sided article by your Islamabad-based correspondent. Her claim of some government curbs on media or internet in Pakistan is totally baseless and unfounded as impartial international observers, including international media, foreign diplomats and even visitors, have acknowledged the straightforwardness and unlimited openness of the Pakistani media from time-to-time. Then, contrary to her claim, she quotes a number of articles from the Pakistani Press on this issue. I wish she could have watched discussions on the Pakistani electronic media on various national issues, which obviously included the Balochistan issue as well, during the last four or five years.
While extensively quoting the statements of some self-proclaimed leaders and political asylum seekers from Balochistan, Ms Joshua has forgotten the fact that in order to justify their political asylum in Western countries, such elements keep the issues alive in the media by raising a hue and cry about their alleged persecution. If credence is accorded to the claims of such elements, a majority of countries, including that of Ms Joshua, would be partitioned in hundreds of smaller states.
In her article she also refers to some “conspiracy of silence in Pakistan” on this issue. As a matter of fact, the government of Pakistan is fully aware of various political issues created during the Musharraf regime which is why the elected government initiated the “Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Program” for the development of the province. Then, under the 18th constitutional amendment, all federating units, including Balochistan have been granted provincial autonomy by devolving 39 concurrent subjects to the provinces. Under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, the share of Balochistan in the national resources has been raised to 10 per cent from 4.3 per cent.
May I advise Anita Joshua to incorporate the point of view of the government of Pakistan in her future writings on such political issues. Honest and objective reporting demands that, and being stationed in Islamabad she certainly has access to government institutions.
Anita Joshua responds:
In response to the letter received from the Minister (Press), M. Khalid Sarwar, at the Pakistan High Commission, the main point in my article was the lack of discourse — in the media and elsewhere — on the problems in Balochistan until the beginning of February. I am not alone in saying this. In recent days, many noted Pakistani journalists, as well as other foreign correspondents based in Pakistan, have also made the same point.
In citing from the articles on Balochistan that have appeared in recent weeks, I do not contradict myself in any way. The very point I was trying to make was that people are now discussing the issue which, in the long run, may be good for Pakistan.