Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention: Jang-Geo workers’ protest goes on

September 27, 2020

LAHORE: Journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and trade union of Jang Group on Saturday condemned the arrest of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the...

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LAHORE: Journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and trade union of Jang Group on Saturday condemned the arrest of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last 197 days over a 35-year old property exchange matter without giving any proof of charges or making any progress in investigations.

Staging a demonstration outside Jang offices at a protest camp of the workers of Geo, Jang and The News employees for the 175th consecutive day, they criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for working exactly opposite to his claims of over 20 years to turn Pakistan into a Madina-like state, which he used only to woo media support to come into power. But, actually, Imran Khan has been victimizing Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI government, they said, adding that there was neither any progress in investigations into the corruption charges of the 35 years old property exchange case against him nor any formal case was registered. The participants termed it a blatant attack on media freedom, chanted slogans against the fascist PTI regime and condemned the illegal and anti-media tactics of the NAB.

They demanded that the chief justice of Pakistan take a suo motu action against this gross injustice against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, which is a direct attack on the freedom of expression and liberty of media. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and threatened to launch an anti-government movement across the country if he is not released.

The participants in the protest included Secretary General of Jang Workers Union Farooq Awan, News Editor of Pakistan Times Zaheer Anjum, Kashmiri leader Humayun Mirza, senior journalists Amer Malik, Sher Ali Khalti, Awais Qarni, Muhammad Shafiq, Ayesha Akram, Shagufta Naz, Aziz Sheikh, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Tariq Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Mushtaq, Zahid Mehmood and others.

Zaheer Anjum termed the PTI government the worst kind of fascist and authoritarian regime bent upon gagging the voice of media to prevent exposure of its own corruption and bad governance. He warned that the owners of other media houses are the next target as Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is the first casualty in the PTI government’s stifling media policy. He said choking the entire media would become an easy target for the PTI government and establishment when the top-ranking media house would either be closed down or badly reduced to size. He said media owners must realize that unless they empower their workers and professional journalists, their own strength would be seriously curtailed, and they would become an easy prey for the establishment and ruling elite. He said the case of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should serve as an eye-opener for all media owners.

Humayun Mirza said media cannot work for the truth without freedom as it plays the role of a watchdog for the society and country. He noted that such victimizations were forced by dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq, Gen Pervez Musharraf in the past, and now media workers are being victimized by Imran Khan who was selected by the establishment to curb media. He said the whole world knows the truth that Imran Khan was selected in sham elections and is now proving that he is not the representative of the masses and democracy.

Awais Qarni said victimization of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman must come to an end after the detention of over five months, and he should be released as his arrest is a symbolic move to usurp media freedom. Already the results desired by the rulers are coming out and the arrest is leading towards crumbling of other media houses and closure of noted news channels and retrenchment of workers in others recently.

Farooq Awan said the fabricated case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should be withdrawn and he should be released. He warned if Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is not released, the protest would increase creating more problems for the government. He said the government instead of providing relief to people from the economic crunch is busy curbing the voice of media and victimizing media owners. He said the Jang Group always reported truth. He said the PTI government is using all pressure tactics to subdue the press and the Jang Group is bearing the brunt being the largest media house in the country.

Amer Malik said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a symbol of freedom of expression and this struggle is not only for his release but also for the freedom of media in the future. He warned that this campaign would continue against the puppet rulers even after his release since it is a conspiracy against journalists and freedom of expression. He said everybody in the country, who struggled for the freedom of expression, is Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Sher Ali Khalti said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is not only a conspiracy against the Jang/Geo Group but also the first step to mute all voices of independent media.

Aziz Sheikh said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is meant to suppress the independent media and it is an illegal detention since he always kept his financial dealings clean and its proof is that no government could ever find any doubtful deal with him.

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