The aim of this post is to highlight how a seemingly decent journalist can fall into dishonesty in order to serve personal friendships and possibly career. Given that @maliksirajakber has today publicly blamed me for being disrespectful to Urooj Zia and blocked my Twitter account, I have no choice but to publish his DMs to me regarding @Uroojzia to explain our respective positions.
On 19 July 2011, I was approached on Twitter by Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor of the Baloch Hal to refrain from criticizing three persons. He provided me this advice via private Direct Message (DM) on Twitter. Two persons I readily agreed to reconcile with. For the third person (Urooj Zia), I expressed my distrust because of her shady professional character and background. On Malik Siraj’s advice I agreed to reconcile with her too, and also tweeted expressing my support for Urooj Zia’s stance on Aatish Taseer’s article.
However, it seems that when Malik Siraj offered the same advice to Urooj Zia, she threw the advice in his face and started using extremely abusive language against me.
As a true Baloch, a man of a honour, it was Malik Siraj’s ethical duty at that stage to condemn her abusive attitude and apologize to me for the failed reconciliation attempt which resulted in Urooj Zia abusing me.
Instead, to my surprise, I saw Malik Siraj Akbar changing his colours like a chameleon, he dishonestly twisted the topic, started lecturing me about Urooj Zia’s excellent services to the Baloch cause and asked me to refrain from insulting and abusing her. He did not acknowledge that it was he who had approached me to ceasefire with Urooj and that I had already agreed to that.
He also ignored to acknowledge that it was Urooj Zia who started abusing me after Malik Siraj’s truce, not the other way round. However, Malik Siraj kept tight-lipped on Urooj Zia’s abusive tweets and his advices remained dishonestly directed at me.
I can think of the following explanation for Malik Siraj Akber’s strange attitude in this episode.
Malik Siraj used to work for Najam Sethi in Daily Times. Najam Sethi is known for his links with Pakistan’s military establishment, played a dirty role against Benazir Bhutto government in mid 1990s in liaison with the ISI. Probably, Malik Siraj has been at least to some extent brainwashed by Najam Sethi and his urban liberal flatterers including Urooj Zia.
Here is a snippet from Malik Siraj Akbar’s pofile from his own website:
Malik served as the Balochistan Bureau Chief of Pakistan’s leading English language newspaper Daily Times and its sister publication in Urdu, Daily Aajkal, for several years. He contributed political analysis from Balochistan to The Friday Times, Pakistan’s first independent English weekly.
The Friday Times is edited and owned by Najam Sethi. Daily Times, when Malik Siraj worked there was, for the most part, edited by Najam Sethi. For those who don’t know Najam Sethi, this article is an apt brief: http://criticalppp.com/archives/40420
Here is a profile of the person (Urooj Zia) who Malik Siraj Akbar wanted to protect from my criticism. Perhaps they wanted me to remove this post: Urooj Zia, a case study of urban liberals of Pakistan. Urooj Zia is a paid employee of Sherry Rehman (PPP MNA) who has never uttered a single word against Baloch genocide by Pakistan army. Further, Urooj Zia was recently told off by the family of shaheed Salmaan Taseer when she tried to muddy up the Taseer murder probe. All of these details are provided in the link above.
Of course, Malik Siraj is a young man who has a life and career ahead in journalism in Pakistan. Therefore perhaps he cannot afford to annoy the powerful urban liberal elite of Pakistan who are owners, editors and managers of most media houses and newspapers in Pakistan. If that is the case, I can understand his preferences and compulsions.
Baloch cause and human rights issues
Despite these personal differences and disappointments, it is important for all Baloch rights and human rights activist to keep working for the cause of the Baloch, Hazara, Shias, Punjabis and other groups being killed in Balochistan by the army and by various jihadi, sectarian and violent organizations. On my part, I will keep exposing and confronting Pakistan army, its jihadi affiliates (TTP-SSP-Jundullah) and other violent groups who are mass murdering Baloch, Hazara, Punjabis and Shias in Balochistan.