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April 2, 2020

Missing in Uppsala

Editorial

 
April 2, 2020

We have already come to be described as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. The question that now arises is how much of a difference distance makes to danger. Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch has, according to his family and media reports, been missing from the Swedish city of Uppsala since March 2. A case has been filed with the Swedish police and they are said to have begun investigations. There is suspicion amongst media circles that Sajid’s mysterious disappearance is linked to his activities as an investigative reporter – first in Pakistan for several media organization and then as an online journalist and editor. He was actively interested in the affairs of Balochistan and covered in detail the issue of enforced disappearances. His work had also helped expose drug traffickers in that province. The nature of his work, it seems, would have pleased none but the disempowered. He had complained that he was being constantly followed and threats were being made against him. Fearing for safety, he left Pakistan in the end of 2012, after his home was raided, his laptop taken away and his family ‘interrogated’.

Sajid has now been listed with the Swedish NGO Missing People as a missing person. And his family are – understandably – extremely concerned about his life and, sadly, must also be so for their own. They, as one Guardian report says, “have not accused anyone of involvement in his disappearance and are simply urging the Swedish police to give them an answer.” It is not just ironic but tragic that they have not even tried to reach out to the Pakistani government to help them at this time of trauma. We do hope, however, that the Pakistani embassy in Sweden does try and help in a case involving a Pakistani citizen. Having said that, we can only stress our expectation that Swiss authorities will do everything that can be done to recover Sajid Hussain who went missing on Swiss soil. His disappearance should be alarming for those concerned about the safety of journalists, activists and writers anywhere, who are brave enough to serve the oppressed humanity and thus choose 'controversiality' over convenience. We hope for Sajid's safe return, and are struggling to believe that his absence is the result only of some misunderstanding or miscommunication and nothing more sinister.