Balochistan is a dangerous place, and more so if you stand for any kind of real freedom. On Thursday, unidentified militants barged into the bureau office of the Online News Agency, and gunned down Irshad Mastoi, the Bureau Chief of the agency. Mastoi's reporter Ghullam Rasool and accountant Muhammad Younas were also killed by the militants. While the police and the frontier corps have already started their investigations, it seems that this incident will be another one that goes under the radar.

An attack on any journalist anywhere is highly condemnable; targeting people who are in the front-line of the struggle to bring information and accountability amounts to subverting our rights as citizens of the state. While Pakistan is counted amongst the most dangerous countries for journalists, Balochistan has been especially deadly. From 2010 to present, at least 34 journalists have lost their lives in Baluchistan, and on none of these occasions has the perpetrator been apprehended. Such a broad and extensive system of killings raises a couple of pertinent questions. Firstly, why has the military, despite a heavy presence in the area, been unable to stem this tide of violence? Why have known militants been allowed to roam freely? And why haven’t any of these militants been investigated and identified? Why have journalists been systematically targeted? What is being hidden in information only available to reporters and journalists? Here we must leave the solid grounds of knowledge behind and move into the murky realms of guesswork; a Taliban insurgency, a Baloch separatist movement, tribal disputes and sectarian issues; there are multiple reasons to choose from, take your pick. Without proper investigation, we are no closer to a conclusion. With such incidents likely to deter further reporting in this region, it seems unlikely that we will ever be.

We must salute the bravery and selflessness of journalists at the front-lines of a horrific conflict, who die anonymously writing for the cause of truth, and whose families and country continue to wait for justice in their names.