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Persecution of minorities in Balochistan not a priority for media

QUETTA PR – Speakers at a workshop said religious minorities have faced persecution in Balochistan for long but their plight has never been a priority for the mainstream media. Commercial interests, external pressures, as well as restrictions determine the media’s behavior towards the issues of minorities. Senior journalist and PFUJ president, Shahzada Zulfiqar, said journalists while doing their job face limitations which include fear of violent backlash to their journalistic work. And for reasons of safety and security, journalists often resort to self-censorship, he said. Similarly, journalist and author, Yar Mohammad Badini, noted that freedom of religion has shrunk in Balochistan which is manifested by the persecution of Hindus, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Hundreds of Hindu families have abandoned their traditional homes in Balochistan and migrated to neighboring India in search of safety, he said adding that despite suffering from such humanitarian issues, Balochistan has never been given adequate coverage by the mainstream media. Imran Mukhtar, a senior reporter with the daily the Nation, concurred that the media has been commercialized where the worth of news and stories are routinely judged by their marketability.

The two-day training and educational workshop on the theme of ‘Youth for Interfaith Harmony’ was organized by an Islamabad-based think tank, Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) on Thursday, May 27, 2021 in Quetta. Speaking at the workshop, security researcher, Safdar Sial, discussed the state of religious minorities in Pakistan, explaining what challenges the minority groups faced in Pakistan. In addition to routine discrimination, many members of minorities also struggle to get their national identity documents. This creates immense problems for them in terms of employment etc. The workshop was also addressed by noted security analyst, Muhammad Amir Rana, who underlined the youth’s role in promoting peaceful coexistence in the society. According to him, it is crucial for the youth to identify and address their biases and stereotypes for other ethnic or religious communities. Amir Rana also discussed at length the utility and application of common sense, an underestimated social skill that can help people empathize with others and avoid being judgmental.

During the workshop, the young participants were also provided career counseling by PIPS program manager, Ahmed Ali, who explained critical roadblocks to career progress for youth in Pakistan. He said mental intelligence and good degrees alone were not enough for success in career because in the contemporary job market emotional intelligence was equally valued as an indispensable quality in job applicants. However, emotional intelligence is important not only for personal and professional life of an individual but also for the broader society. Emotionally intelligence youth are less susceptible to exploitation and abuse, and have lesser tendency for extremism, primarily because they are more understanding towards others in the society.

The workshop also had a special session on social media in which senior journalist and blogger, Sabookh Syed, taught the participants about the effective use of social media platforms. According to Sabookh Syed, the social media have emerged as a counterweight to the mainstream media with the added benefit of greater freedom for expression for common users. He urged the youth to use the social media to have their voices heard by the policymakers, government officials, and others. He explained how the social media influence the powerful, and impact the policies. Through effective use of social media, the government can be held accountable for its policies and actions, he added.

The two-day workshop was part of the nationwide drive to promote interfaith harmony among the Pakistani youth particularly the university students who stand at the threshold of practical life, and play a key role in determining the social makeup of the society.




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