RAWLPINDI/PESHAWAR/LAHORE/KARACHI: The workers of Geo, Jang and The News along with representatives of civil society and political workers continued their countrywide protest on Sunday against illegal arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and pledged that the protest will continue till the release of the Editor-in-Chief.
On Sunday, the countrywide protest of workers of Geo and Jang Group entered 59th day. Media workers chanted slogans for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and condemned the curbs on the freedom of media.
Addressing the protest outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi, speakers called for release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and termed the NAB laws as black laws that were enacted for the political engineering and vowed to continue their protest till the release of the Editor-in-Chief.
Speakers at the protest camp including Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Nasir Zaidi, Chairman Joint Action Committee of workers of Geo and Jang Group and President Jang Workers Union Nasir Chishti, media workers of the Jang Group Munir Shah, Amjad Abbasi, Malik Nusrat, Ziaul Qamar and representatives of PML-N Youth Wing Obaid Abbasi called for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who was in detention for the last two months without any charge.
They said the purpose of the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was only to mute the voice of freedom of media. They pledged that the protest of the journalists and media workers will continue till the release of the Editor-in-Chief and achieving the cause of freedom of media.
In Peshawar, the workers of Jang/Geo Group continued to protest on Sunday against the arrest of Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters asked the government to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdraw cases against him forthwith.
Speaking on the occasion, Daily Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik condemned the arrest in a 34 years-old property. He said the action was taken only to suppress the voice of the free media. He said the Constitution guarantees the freedom of the speech and an independent media but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government wanted to strangulate the media. The senior journalist said supremacy of the Parliament, flourishing of democracy and independence of the judiciary were linked to a free press. He deplored that rulers attacked the media and by arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman the government wanted to convey a message to the media to stop writing the truth.
Imdad Ali Qazalbash condemned the government for arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, saying such cheap tactics would not stop the Jang media group from writing the truth. He vowed to continue struggle till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him.
In Lahore, senior journalists, media workers, staff of Jang Group and members of civil society continued protest against the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The protesters gathered outside the Jang/Geo offices and demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They said arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a tactic to pressurise Jang/Geo Group.
They added that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a known activist of free press and is under illegal detention of government for the past many weeks. They shouted slogans for free media, free press as well as freeing Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, vowing to continue protest till his release.
The protesters were of the view that the Editor-in-Chief was detained in a fake case because the government wanted him to withdraw from his free media stance. Jang’s Group Editor Shaheen Qureshi, Geo’s Lahore Bureau Chief Raees Ansari, PUJ office-bearers and reporters of daily Jang, The News and Geo TV were prominent among the protesters.
In Rahimyar Khan, the workers of Daily Jang, Geo and The News along with the members of the RUJ staged a demonstration against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The protesters gathered outside the press club and criticised the government for anti-media policies. The speakers, including Tariq Mahmood, Mian Ehsanul Haq and Mumtaz Moonis, demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
In Karachi, political leaders and media workers while continuing their protest against the arrest of the Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on Sundaysaid that rulers in Pakistan have been busy in suppressing press freedom and arrest of head of the country’s largest media group in a 34-year-old property case is the part of the government’s efforts to silence the media.
They were speaking to the participants of the protest camp set up outside Jang Building, Azadi Street, in Karachi for the release of the group’s Editor In Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The Jang/Geo joint action committee organised the protest camp.
The protesters carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands urged the government to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdraw cases against him.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s provincial vice-president Iqbal Khaksar said that Geo and Jang Group and their workers had always struggled for the freedom of media and for the protection of the institutions. “But Imran Khan Niazi after coming into power has started a crackdown and detained the group editor of the country’s largest media network in a baseless case in its efforts to press the media freedom,” said Khaskar. He said that rulers will soon become accountable for their excesses against the media and rival politicians.
Instead of holding accountability of the corrupt, he said the rulers have been harassing opposition leaders and media houses to suppress their voice, he said.
All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation Secretary-General Shakeel Yamin Kanga said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest is the part of the government’s ongoing efforts to pressure the country’s mainstream media.
He said that media and human rights bodies and lawyers groups across the world have been demanding the Pakistani government to immediately release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman whose detention in a 34 years old property case is apparently an attempt to gag and control mainstream media. He said that if the government didn’t release him immediately, journalist bodies across the country will devise a new strategy to launch a protest against the government.
Dara Zafar, General Secretary of The News Employees Union, said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has focused its all energies to suppress media freedom instead of resolving the issues the people have been facing.