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March 22, 2020

Political, business leaders join journalists’ protest for Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s release

National

March 22, 2020

PESHAWAR: Major political parties and businesspersons on Saturday joined the media workers protesting for the release of Editor-in-Chief of the Jang, Geo and The News, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, and restoration of Geo transmission to its original position.

The provincial leaders and workers of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamaat-e-Islami, and the business community members protested with the media workers from Jang Media Group here on Saturday. They vowed to extend every support till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah and former president Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) Arshad Aziz Malik led the protesters, carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands. They chanted slogans and asked the government to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and restore Geo transmission to its original numbers on the cable network.

PPP provincial leader Zulfiqar Afghani criticised the government for putting Mir Shakil behind bars only for highlighting the truth. He said the rulers had not and could not pressure one of the biggest media groups through such tactics. The PPP leader said the entire world knew that the government was trying to punish the media group’s owner in a private property case which was decided 34 years old. He assured the journalists of his party’s support in their just struggle.

PML-N’s Ikhtiar Wali Khan condemned the nexus of the government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and said the “selected” prime minister and his government wanted to pressure the opposition and now businessmen and media. He said the rulers should know the media would never accept the illegal dictatorial decisions of the government.

Extending his party support to the protesting media workers, he suggested an expansion of the protest movement and said his party would come out in support for media workers at every forum. Israrullah advocate said the PTI government was using NAB to suppress the voice of the opposition.

Arbab Khizer Hayat from the PML-N said that the selected government and rulers were punishing the media for unveiling the scandals of the so-called champions of change and reforms. He said his party would come out on roads if Mir Shakil was not released and Geo TV was not restored to its original numbers on the cable network. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) ‘s Abdul Wasihur Rehman criticised the government for punishing Mir Shakil and Geo for unveiling the truth.

A leader of the business community, Sharafat Ali Mubarak, demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil and restoration of Geo, and declared that the business community would render every sacrifice for the independent press. Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah thanked the political parties for extending support to the protesting journalists. He expressed the hope that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman would be released soon.

The PPC chief recalled that the previous governments had also tried to pressure Jang, Geo and The News for highlighting the truth but failed.

He demanded the release of Mir Shakil, restoration of Geo, and release of outstanding payments to the media group so that the pending salaries of

employees could be disbursed to them as they are presently facing a difficult situation.

Syed Bukhar Shah said the joint action committee would draw the future line of action if their demands were not accepted. Former KhUJ president Arshad Aziz Malik recalled that Mir Shakeel was arrested in a property case that has nothing illegal.

He said the Jang Media Group was punished for highlighting the scandals of Malam Jaba, Billion Tree Tsunami, Bus Rapid Transit and other projects but such tactics could not stop them from performing their duties.