close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

CJA calls for immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman

Top Story

March 22, 2020

Files

LONDON: The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) has condemned the illegal arrest of Jang Group/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and has called upon Pakistani authorities to release him from the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) unlawful confinement. A press release here by CJA UK said: “The CJA deplores these systematic attempts to penalise two of the leading independent media companies in Pakistan. We call on the Government to honour the commitments it made in the Commonwealth Charter, to uphold freedom of expression and a free media which is protected by law in its freedom to report and comment on public affairs.”

The CJA also expressed concerns over the way Mir Shakil-ul-Rahman’s case was handled and termed it “contrary to the bureau’s established practice” while also mentioning that this arrest was an attempt to intimidate the country’s largest media group. Commenting on Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) discriminatory role against Geo by forcing cable operators across the country to either stop broadcasting Geo News or to move it in the end of the channels, the CJA stated: “The CJA also deplores the parallel action by the country’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) instructing all cable distributors in Pakistan to stop broadcasting Geo TV, the popular Urdu TV channel owned by the Jang Group, or to switch its broadcasts to a different, less accessible channel.”

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested on March 12 by the NAB even before formal charges were made against him. The case which was used to justify this arrest was a property transaction which occurred 34 years ago in 1986.

Despite providing all evidence and paperwork proving the legality of the transaction, the NAB still arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman going against its own standards of procedures and protocol.

Even though Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has fully cooperated with Pakistani authorities and proven that the transaction was between two private parties with no government role whatsoever, the world at large believes that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a message to all journalists by the government which is growing increasingly intolerant of objective reporting.

Sometime before the arrest, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that he would make an example out of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Even before becoming Prime Minister, Imran Khan had attacked not just Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman but also Geo group in general. During the 2014 Dharna (sit-in), which choked Islamabad and resulted in immeasurable loss to Pakistan’s economy and global standing, PTI supporters attacked the offices of Geo and threw stones on their workplace resulting in fear and intimidation of the staff.

All major international organisations have termed Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest suppression of the media in Pakistan. Condemnations have come from the US State Department, dozens of British parliamentarians, The New York Times, Reporters without Borders, Council for Protection of Journalists and more recently, The CJA.

The CJA added: “The CJA urges Prime Minister Imran Khan, as the country’s democratically elected leader, to lift the present curbs on independent media and to establish an environment where the media can work without fear or arbitrary official reprisals and can play its proper part in the democratic government of Pakistan.”