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Pakistan 18 June 2007

One reporter detained in Balochistan, another denied entry to army-controlled Balochi district

Reporters Without Borders called today for the release of Abdul Latif Gola, the Urdu-language daily Jang’s correspondent in Jafarabad (in the southwestern province of Balochistan), who was arrested yesterday by police saying they were acting on the orders of an army officer identified as Major Ali.

“Gola’s arrest is totally arbitrary and unjustified,” the press freedom organisation said. “No one should ever be arrested without grounds and without a charge. We call on the Pakistani authorities to do everything possible to ensure than Major Ali releases Gola quickly.”

Police officers and soldiers went to Gola’s home at around 1 a.m. yesterday. Malik Allah Bakhsh, a police officer, ordered Gola to come with them because “Major Ali” wanted to question him.

“We are very worried about Gola,” his wife told Reporters Without Borders. “He has done nothing and we do not know why they took him away.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a journalist based in the Balochi capital of Quetta told Reporters Without Borders that Gola’s arrest was probably linked to his coverage of recent clashes between the security forces and Balochi nationalists. Gola is himself a member of the Balochi ethnic group.

In a separate development, BBC correspondent Nisar Khokhar and a local journalist were denied entry on 15 June to Dera Bugti, a district of Balochistan that is controlled by the Pakistani army. Khokhar had gone there to investigate the reported detention of seven women in a military camp for three weeks. He and the journalist with him were detained for two hours by frontier police.

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