Looking for justice

 
July 11, 2020

Editor-in-Chief of the Jang/Geo Group, the biggest media house in the country, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has now been in NAB custody for almost four months. There is a huge travesty of justice involved,...

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Editor-in-Chief of the Jang/Geo Group, the biggest media house in the country, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has now been in NAB custody for almost four months. There is a huge travesty of justice involved, with media workers in all major cities of the country, leading lawyers and politicians and even business persons all condemning the arrest. Legal experts also hold that the 34-year-old land acquisition case in which he has been detained – and on which charges have not even been filed yet – does not fall under the purview of NAB. But matters of due process and fairness seem to have become irrelevant in today’s Pakistan. We see in fact more vindictiveness at play. To anyone with a sense of justice, there seems to be no logical reason for NAB to have ever detained Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Despite this, courts are refusing to grant bail with hearings having been adjourned one after the other on the minutest grounds. And now, in a disappointing and surprising decision, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has dismissed Mir Shakil’s bail petition altogether.

All this is happening in a ‘case’ where: First, in nearly four months of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s incarceration nothing has been recovered from him. Second, the land was granted in accordance with the law. Third, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) had no objection over it. And, most important of all, Mir Shakil has never held any public office, so there is no question of any misuse of authority. No proof has been put forward showing his malpractice in the land case or in any other affair. Protesting journalists and international media watchdog bodies argue that this is simply a case of attempting to quash the free expression and pure journalists work by the many honourable and brave journalists working for the group. Mir Shakil has shown similar courage in the past and refused to silence voices of dissent despite immense pressure. He remains as determined even today, holding up the banner of free expression which is so important to any democracy.

Normally, an accused is kept behind bars and denied bail if there is a possibility of escape. In the case of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman no such possibility exists by even a remote chance, as he has appeared whenever the NAB authorities asked him to. When the accused cooperates with the prosecution, it remains baffling that a bail is not granted to him. This is increasingly looking like a pure case of victimization by NAB without any solid grounds for legal proceedings. Everyone can now see the injustice committed against a man who has attempted only to stand strong for a media that would not wish to be bound in chains. Human rights groups have already pointed this out. But it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to listen. Opposition politicians too have warned that this case will come back to haunt the government. It is certainly not bringing any positive publicity Pakistan’s way. And yet – while Pakistan goes through one of its most trying periods – the injustice continues.



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