By Zia Ur Rehman
February 9, 2018
Hundreds of people gathered at a community hall in Rexer Lane area, Lyari on Thursday for the condolence gathering for veteran journalist and political activist Siddiq Baloch, who passed away in the early hours of Tuesday at the age of 78.
Born and raised in Lyari, Siddiq was the editor-in-chief of two Quetta-based newspapers – Balochistan Express and Azadi – known for writing on the political, social and economic rights of the province. Up until the last day of his life, Siddiq, popularly known as Mama, had been writing editorials for both newspapers, according to his son Arif Baloch.
Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo, former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raeesani, former federal minister Prince Mohyuddin Baloch, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Karachi President Saeed Ghani and former MNA Nabeel Gabol were among the prominent personalities who visited Lyari to condole with Siddiq’s family.
Siddiq Baloch was born in 1940 in Rexer Lane locality and received his early education from there. After completing his education, he joined Daily Dawn and remained associated with the newspaper for around 29 years. In 1988, he started Sindh Express, an English daily from Karachi, but in 1990, he shut it down and started Balochistan Express instead with the aim to highlight the province’s issues to the English reading audience. A decade later, he also launched Urdu daily Azadi.
Siddiq was considered an authority on Balochistan’s issues. His newspapers faced many hardships and pushback from various governments due to his impartial editorial policies. According to Saeed Sarbazi, a member of the Karachi Press Club governing body, Siddiq was a role model for Lyari’s young journalists. “He was a humble teacher and had a vision on politics. He has left behind a legacy of objective journalism,” he told The News.
According to Ramazan Baloch, an author of two books on Lyari, Siddiq was one of the founding members of the Baloch Students Organization – a left-leaning Baloch students’ body formed in 1967 after the merging of the several student bodies, including Quetta-based Warna Waninda Gal (Youth Educational Forum).
“At that time, Karachi’s Baloch community was heavily involved in left-oriented nationalist politics and had elected nationalist figure Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo in Lyari,” Ramazan, who also attended the condolence gathering told The News.
He said that Lal Bakhsh Rind and Siddiq used to arrange rallies and visits of prominent nationalist leaders, including Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Sardar Ataullah Mengal. During General Ayub Khan’s rule, Lal Bakhsh Rind and Siddiq Baloch played a key role in the campaign against the government’s plan to shift Lyari by organising rallies, forcing the government to withdraw its plans, Ramazan said.
“Personalities, like Siddiq Baloch, in fact maintained blood and natural relations of Lyari with Balochistan,” said an elderly activist. “He was a proud son of Lyari.”
After the formation of National Awami Party’s government in Balochistan, Siddiq worked as press secretary for the then governor Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo. Ultimately, he was also imprisoned along with Bizenjo, former chief minister Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and other NAP leaders in the infamous Hyderabad Conspiracy Case in the 70s. “Siddiq Baloch used to tell us that he served as press secretary of governor Balochistan for four month, and because of that, spent four years in prison,” Ramazan recalled.
After his release from prison, Siddiq rejoined journalism and remained with the field till he died. Siddiq was the author of two books ‘Balochistan: Its Politics and Economics’ (2013) and ‘A Critical Commentary on the Political Economy of Balochistan,’ (2002). He was working on a memoir ‘My Years in Journalism’ which is slated to be released soon.