The Baloch Hal was the dream of a few young educated Balochs. They wanted to make a difference for their oppressed and repressed people. The online paper got extraordinary national and international attention. Launched by three young Baloch based in three different locations yet simultaneously coordinating to put the online paper together, the team approached anybody who was somebody to seek help to sustain this paper.
The paper was the brainchild of a young Baloch daughter who had never visited Balochistan but was deeply in love with her motherland. Yet, we wanted to tell our people that change was not impossible if we worked with commitment. The Baloch Hal, without a penny in its accounts, did what government ministries with a budget of several million rupees could not do. We literally went to the homes of every Baloch and non-Baloch friends of Balochistan, including scholar, leader, bureaucrate, intellectual and told them why the Baloch Hal was important and why it deserved to be helped. Everyone billed it “excellent” and “extraordinary” and suggested to “keep it up” but no one reached for help. No one owned this national newspaper. We are sure that you would also acknowledge that you did not help in individual capacity too even though we said a rupee contribution or a single piece of writing would make a big difference.
In four months, the Baloch Hal got 6782148 hits and 2522083 hits from over 60 countries of the world. We put together, 711 news reports/ articles and attracted 114 comments from our readers, which is unprecedented in the media history of Balochistan.
In the meanwhile, we saw that our readership came from very very powerful quarters such as western diplomatic missions, think-tanks, NGOs, media watch-dogs, political parties and the country’s military establishment. Expectations rose too high from the Baloch Hal. Our readers reminded us why certain stories run in The New York Times or Dawn newspaper in Pakistan were often missing in The Baloch Hal (a newspaper that was put together by three people sitting in three different countries and doing part time job to make a living). We did not want to remain like many other web sites to copy and paste material from other newspapers yet we lacked the resources to meet the very high expectations of our readers.
No Baloch scholar or journalist or those who live elsewhere but write on Balochistan agreed to write for Baloch Hal “free of cost”. We pleaded them again and again that it was not a corporate initiative. We needed them to write for this paper. We reminded them again and again. No prominent writer agreed to write for us ‘freely’ while we did not have the resources to pay our contributors. We realized the level of intellectuals’ greed only after working on this project.
The only reason due to which we do not hesitate in admitting that we were looking for donations and financial help from everyone was because we thought the Baloch Hal collectively belonged to the people and the friends of Balochistan. Therefore, we reached everyone and said please help your own paper. This project is extremely essential for our coming generations. The fight was too fierce, challenges were tough. There is this extraordinarily high amount of money coming from Arab countries and the country’s security establishment to radicalize the Baloch society. Religious schools are mushrooming in Baloch areas to churn out religious militants. Billions are being spent to push our younger generation into drug addiction. A much larger amount is being spent to crush the secular and nationalist forces in the province. All that we needed was a very little amount only to sustain this project. The Baloch Hal was not a misadventure because it delivered more than even the provincial ministry of information. Truth about Balochistan was leaked at the Baloch Hal when a complete shutter down strike was observed in Mekran during the visit of Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani to sign the NFC award. The whole national media declined to report it because their journalists were taken on official expenses to cover the event but the Baloch Hal and some other Baloch media outlets refused to jump on the bandwagon.
The Chief Minister of Balochistan would have helped us to a great extent, as he had wished to do at one point of time, provided that we refrained from writing our our editorials ” Raisani must be kidding” and ” Gillani and Shutter-down meet each other in Gwadar”. Yet, the paper could have sustained if the progressive friends of Balochistan agreed to help us. They did not. The reward for putting our lives in danger while running this project was paid to us when we were told that “Baloch Hal has become a tool in the hands of the Military Intelligence.”
We have decided to put the Baloch Hal offline because we do not have the resources to carry on. Our own people have unleashed a campaign against us. The Baloch Hal grew so prominent in four months that international publications like The National and Dawn began to quote it. The government accused us of being financed by India and its intelligence agency RAW while our own people thought were working on an ISI and MI agenda.
Lastly, we would like to deeply thank the ‘only’ donor to the Baloch Hal. This donation of Rs. 3500/ was given to the Baloch Hal by a Punjabi widow who admired the work and said that she could not donate more for this project but she still believed that Baloch Hal was desperately needed. As we “3 idiots” decide to put the shutters down, we thank Mr. Bari Baloch, a regular contributor, Mazhar Ali Khan, who agreed to share his photographs on daily basis and our two regular columnists Siddiq Baluch and Amjad Hussain. A special word of thanks to Ejaz Raisani, our most active citizen journalist and Ms. Seema Hassan who agreed to write for us when we were in the process of encouraging people to write for the Baloch Hal. We are grateful to Asad Rahman who agreed to exclusively write twice for the Baloch Hal.
The Baloch Hal Team