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April 28, 2020

UK Kashmiris say MSR always supported Kashmir’s freedom struggle, demand justice


Tue, Apr 28, 2020
The News/Files

LONDON: British Kashmiri groups have voice support and demanded justice for Jang/Geo group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, who has been arrested in a case pertaining to property bought 34 years ago by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) without being charged.

The Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights (JKHCR), which has been granted special status by The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, expressed deep concern on the continued arrest and detention of Jang/Geo Media Group chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

JKCHR President Dr Syed Nazir Gilani said that the administration of justice in MSR's arrest has "streaks of mala fide" in holding a leading citizen of the country in a manner that does not sit well with institutional fairness.

"Jang Group has served the country and in particular the [Kashmiri] diaspora [especially] in the early 1980s and 1990s with dignity and commitment. Jang was the only medium that connected the diaspora back home in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir during those early times. It generated community interaction by arranging 'Jang Forums' and remained a source of inspiration to the old and younger generations."

Dr Gilani has also appealed to the Government of Pakistan to intervene and check the misdirection of wisdom by NAB. "The institution that is holding Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, is running the risk of making the process of accountability and right to liberty, a cause of concern not only for Pakistanis and Kashmiris but for a wider community that has witnessed the great dedication and commitment of service of the Jang/Geo Group all these years."

The Chairman of Kashmir Campaign Global, Zaffar Ahmad Quraishi, thanked Geo for highlighting the plight of the Kashmiris and expressed hope that Mir Shakil ur Rehman would be treated fairly.

"We hope that the recent arrest of the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Geo will not be a hindrance in the great professional work that the team at Geo has been doing. Geo has always been at the forefront of news and journalism in general, covering not only Kashmir but global current affairs. I want to thank the team at Geo for such commendable work and support that they have provided to Kashmir's cause. We hope that the issue will be resolved fairly and independently without impacting the true media work," he said.

Kashmir leader Zubair Iqbal Kiani, who serves as advisor on overseas matters related to AJK PM Raja Farooq Haider, said: "I strongly condemn the unlawful arrest of Mir Shakil. This is a case of prime victimisation and vindication. Jang and Geo group are the pioneers of liberal journalism in Pakistan. I demand the immediate release of Mir Shakeel ur Rahman.

Prof Nazir A Shawl, who is a constituent member of the Organisation of Kashmir Coalition (OKC) demanding justice for Mir Shakil said: "There are different versions of this arrest. The person arrested is also the editor in chief of the biggest news organisation in Pakistan."

"Natural justice demands that the arrest should not be on arbitrary charges. There must be an FIR that unfolds the proven charges, the presumption of guilt is contrary to justice. If he is complicit in corruption, it can be justified only by authentic evidence. Just labeling charges without proof entitles him for an immediate and unconditional release."

Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) strongly condemned the continued illegal detention of Mir Shakil and urged Pakistani authorities to release him immediately. JKLF UK President Syed Tahseen Gilani said that such actions by authorities without any legitimate basis or any transparency weaken democracy and freedom of expression in a society that is already struggling in these areas.

He said that throughout his career, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had played a vital role in fighting for freedom of expression and to raise the voice of the voiceless, and has played a pivotal role in the development of journalism and media in Pakistan.

"JKLF UK appreciates the efforts of institutions such as Jang and Geo News in particular, who under the leadership of MSR have played a significant role in highlighting Jammu [and] Kashmir conflict and plights of people of Jammu [and] Kashmir.”

Previously, a globally renowned intellectual and the world's most quoted living author, Noam Chomsky, also condemned the illegal arrest of Jang group editor in chief.

Lawyers, politicians, academics, journalists, and even state representatives have termed MSR's arrest as an attack on press freedom in Pakistan.