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SADW writes to members of US Congress against MSR's arrest

The group has termed MSR's arrest as an attack on democracy

By Raja Zahid
May 18, 2020
Photo: Reporter

DALLAS: The South Asia Democracy Watch (SADW) has written letters to members of the US Congress against the illegal imprisonment and continuous detention of Editor-in-Chief Jang Geo Media Group Mir Shakil ur Rahman.

In a letter campaign to the White House, the Secretary of State and to members of the Senate and House members of the Foreign Relations Committee, the group has termed MSR's arrest as an attack on democracy. The letter-writing campaign was decided in a full meeting of the SADW board of Directors. The board members agreed on asking US Congress members to act in support of media freedom in Pakistan.

Letters were sent to 45 members of the House Foreign Relations Committee and 22 Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and to the White House and Secretary Pompeo. SADW Board members expressed their dismay on the government's decision to imprison MSR as a warning to other media houses, to tow the government's line.

They said that media importance is very vital in the backdrop of the coronavirus as well as the evolving situation with regard to the Afghan talks with the Taliban. The SADW said that MSR's arrest is an attack on the democratic institutions of Pakistan and an attempt to curb the freedom of the press. The body said that Pakistani media has played a vital and positive role on various instances whether it be the 9/11 terrorist attacks or negotiations with the Taliban.

However, over the last few decades, media and journalists are under attack and heinous tactics of disappearing journalists, killing them and attacks on media houses are employed, forcing media owners to fire journalists critical of the government. The SADW pleased with members of the US Congress to use their influence in releasing MSR and help Pakistani media serve freely in the country. As Pakistan is the recipient of American aid and trade, the US has a lot of leverage on Pakistani policies. The SADW said media freedom is paramount in functional democracy and must be safeguarded for the benefit of people of Pakistan.