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RAWALPINDI/KARACHI/LAHORE/MULTAN/PESHAWAR: The workers of the Geo-Jang Group along with political, social, human rights activists, doctors, lawyers, labour leaders, traders, newspapers hawkers and journalist organizations continued their protest on Wednesday against the arrest of the Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and vowed to continue their protest till the release.
The political, civil society and journalist organizations demanded the release of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group saying that the arrest was an attack on the freedom of media and an effort to silence the voice of voiceless.
Addressing the protest camp outside the Jang and The News offices at the Murree Road in Rawalpindi, former MNA from Rawalpindi Cantt Malik Ibrar said the present government was not following the democratic norms but dictatorial policy and wanted to mute every voice that was raised for truth. He said the government first arrested its political opponents but got nothing and had now started targeting the media by arresting journalists who brought the truth before the people and the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was a part of the government efforts to control the media. He said the government pressurized Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to make compromises but he refused to do it.
Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Nasir Zaidi said the protest of journalists will continue till the achievement of freedom of the press. “The journey to achieve freedom of media will continue till achieving it,” he said.
Former President PFUJ Afzal Butt said the struggle of the journalists will continue for the freedom of press. He said with the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, a message was conveyed to the media that either get dictation or get ready for the jail.
President Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) Aamir Sajjad Sayed said that the journalist organizations along with political, civil society and human rights activists will continue their struggle for achieving the freedom of media and release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Secretary General RIUJ and senior reporter of the Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti said the fault of Geo and Jang Group was to expose the scandals of the government, especially the BRT Peshawar project.
He said Mir Shakil always supported the journalists to bring thetruth before the people. He said the freedom of expression could not be achieved in the country unless the implementation of the Constitution of Pakistan in letter and spirit as the Constitution guarantees protection of freedom of expression.
Vice President Rawalpindi Cantonment Board Raja Irfan Imtiaz said Mir Shakil was the voice of truth and voiceless. He said the family of Mir Shakil had given sacrifices for Pakistan. Former MNA from Rawalpindi of PML-N Shakeel Awan said Imran Khan had arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in the same way as he arrested his political opponents.
Representatives of the newspapers hawkers Aqeel Abbassi said the hawkers from all over the country stand with Mir Shakil. He said 80,000 newspapers hawkers were earning daily by selling the Jang newspaper.
Nisar Khan of Awami Workers Party Kashmir said the struggle of Geo and Jang Group for the freedom of media and all the political workers are with them in this struggle. Editor Kashmir Times Abid Abbassi said the jouranlists all over the country were demanding the release of of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. MPA of PML-N Zaib-ul-Nisa said all the political parties of the country which believe in democracy are with the workers of the Geo and Jang in their struggle. Member Rawalpindi Cantonment Board Rasheed Khan said he condemned the arrest on behalf of the members of RCB.
Secretary Muslim Students Federation Punjab Maqbool Khan, PML-N workers Imtiaz Taji, Naeem Pasha, Obaid Abbassi also spoke on the occasion.
KARACHI: Denouncing the arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Pakistan People’s Party leader Iqbal Yusuf said on Wednesday that the federal government had made a serious mistake by attacking the already-fragile independence of media and it should worry about the consequences. Yusuf was speaking at the protest demonstration outside the Jang-Geo offices in Karachi, demanding the release of Mir Shakil from the custody of the National Accountability Bureau in a 34-year-old concocted case. He said that NAB was violating the Constitution and the law by keeping Mir Shakil in the detention without registering any reference. He added that the government through its attempt on the Jang-Geo Group has raised the alarm of its designs to gag the media in the country and deny the public their right to truth and information.
He said that if not opposed, it would affect adversely the whole industry. Remembering the legacy of Jang-Geo Group founder Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman, he said that Mir Shakil is a brave journalist like his father and wouldn’t compromise on his principles. Had he, Yusuf said, he should would have been walking free by now.
The All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation’s secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga said that instead of relieving the public during this difficult time, the government was more interested in satisfying its ego by suppressing the voices it didn’t like. He asked the government to release the advertisement payments it owed to the media houses.
He said that due to these curbs, the media industry workers were losing jobs and institutions were shutting down. He said that media workers were facing delays and lapses in salaries and other funds and their future was at stake.
Geo News Karachi Bureau chief Fahim Siddiqui said that the government may not sustain the repercussions of its vengeful acts. He demanded the government to take strict against those responsible of wheat and sugar crisis in the country. Others who spoke at the protest demonstration included The News Employees Union’s general secretary Dara Zafar, Javed Press Union’s general secretary Rana Yusuf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Iqbal Khaksar and Karachi Union of Journalists (Dastoori) president Tariq Abul Hasan.
LAHORE: Journalists and Jang Group workers’ protest against the arrest of Mir Shakil and their struggle for freedom of media continued for on Wednesday. But the government did not budge an inch in its nefarious design of targeting the media houses and curbing the fourth pillar of the State. Journalists and employees of the Jang Group in their token hunger strike against the arrest of Mir Shakil expressed their determination that their efforts would continue till the release of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief. Prominent among the protesters were Shaheen Qureshi, Bedar Bakht Butt, Khalid Farooqi, Raees Ansari, Pervaiz Bashir, Maqsood Butt, Khizar Hayat, Ali Naushai, Zahid Ali Khan, Ahmed Faraz, Sabir Awan, Salahuddin Butt, Saima Nawaz, Tamseela Chishti and several other people from different walks of life. They expressed their serious concerns over NAB’s continued unlawful and unjust detention of Mir Shakil Rahman. The PTI government is using various means to silence the media for playing the role of opposition, the protesters said.
MULTAN: Members of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, political workers, lawyers and civil society activists on Wednesday widely condemned the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil and said the PTI government was misusing the power of NAB and stifling bold media voices. Delegations of different political parties visited the hunger strike camp established for the release of Mir Shakil and expressed solidarity with the Jang Group workers. A big delegation of Tehreek Suba Multan led by Chairman Rao Abdul Qayyum, general secretary Rukinuddin Hamidi, Mashaikh Wing president Allama Shafqat Al-Badri, Chaudhry Shahzad Faisal, lawyers wing president Ishfaq Nadeem, Rao Arif Rizvi, PFUJ Federal Executive Council member Rauf Maan, MUJ president Shakil Baloch, general secretary Shafqat Buhtta visited the hunger strike camp. They urged the government to release Mir Shakil quickly.
PESHAWAR: In Peshawar, the workers of the Jang Group continued protest against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief outside their offices on Wednesday. Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesting journalists and media workers asked the government to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdraw all cases against him.
Nasreen Khattak, former Member Provincial Assembly and secretary social media of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), also visited the protest camp to express solidarity with the media workers and the Jang Group.
Speaking on the occasion, she condemned the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old property case. She said the entire world knew that the country’s major media group was being punished for highlighting the truth. Nasreen Khattak said the international media was also watching the illegal activities of rulers.
She said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should investigate the mega corruption scandals instead of arresting and taking action against the opposition leaders.
She demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him. She asked the government to release the withheld funds of the Jang Group so that the salaries could be paid to thousands of its employees who were presently passing through a difficult situation. The QWP leader said the nation was worried about the spread of coronavirus and found it difficult to cope with the situation, but the rulers were acting irresponsibly due to their flawed policies. She said the QWP had always supported the media including the Jang Group and would do so in future also. Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah recalled that the Jang Group was being punished for reporting the truth.
He said the government won’t be able to suppress the voice of the independent media and journalists. Senior journalist Syed Sabz Ali Shah said the government was trying to stifle the voice of Jang Group but it would not succeed in its designs. He vowed to continue the struggle till the acceptance of their demands.