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May 17, 2020

Arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman: Jang-Geo workers’ countrywide protest continues

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May 17, 2020

RAWALPINDI: The workers of the Geo and Jang Group along with civil society and political workers resolve on Saturday to continue the struggle for freedom of press and the release of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who was in illegal custody without any charge.

At the protest camp outside the offices of the Jang and The News at the Murree Road in Rawalpindi on Saturday, the workers of the Geo and Jang Group along with the civil society and political workers resolved that the struggle for release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been in illegal custody for last 65 days without any charge in fake and fabricated case, would continue without any fail. The countrywide protest entered in 65th day on Saturday.

Addressing the protesters, the speakers called for release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and vowed to continue their protest till the release of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief.

The protest camp addressed by Secretary General PFUJ Nasir Zaidi, Chairman Editorial Committee Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid, Megazine Editor Jang Rawalpindi Farooq Aqdas, Chief Reporter Jang Rana Ghulam Qadir, Chairman Joint Action Committee and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti, media workers of Jang and The News, Munir Shah, Amjad Abbasi, Malik Nusrat, Ziaul Qamar and others. In Lahore, Geo/Jang Group workers on Saturday continued protest against the illegal arrest of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters urged the government to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdraw cases against him. They chanted slogans against the nexus of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the PTI government, saying that both are taking revenge on Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested in a 34-year-old private property case that has nothing to do with the government, said Shaheen Qureshi, group editor Jang. The illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is an attack on the independent press, he said, adding that the PTI government could not face truth. He said the rulers are running the government with dictatorial attitude. He demanded early release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and also demanded that the government pay dues of all media groups so that media workers could be paid their salaries.

Jang Chief Reporter Maqsood Butt said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will never bow before any power as he is the custodian of freedom of expression and freedom of media. Adnan Malik of Geo said the NAB chairman should have taken action against those who leaked the video of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in NAB custody. Sher Ali Khalti of The News said nations and countries are ruined when social justice is denied. The PTI government came into power on the claim of justice, which it failed to provide. The PTI government suppressed the opposition. Now it is trying to suppress the voice of the biggest media group after arresting its editor-in-chief, but he will never compromise. The media is criticizing the government because of its poor performance. He said: “We as workers of The News, Jang and Geo will continue our protest till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.”

Zaheer Anjum, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Mushtaq and others were present.

Meanwhile, in Peshawar, the workers of the Jang Group continued to protest against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him.

The participants severely criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), saying the sitting rulers were using the national institutions as a tool for victimisation of political opponents and the independent media.

Speaking on the occasion, Resident Editor Daily Jang Peshawar Arshad Aziz Malik, senior journalists Salim Kashmiri, Shah Zaman and others recalled that the Editor-in-Chief of the biggest media group was detained in connection with a 34-year old private property case that had nothing to do with this government. They said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested even before completing the investigations and registering a case.

They said the government and NAB could not prove a single case of corruption against him but had illegally detained Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last more than two months.

Terming the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman an attack on independent press, the protesters said that the government had tried to pressure their Editor-in-Chief to tow the government line and change editorial policy, but it could not be able to succeed in its designs.

They said such cheap tactics did not succeed in the past and the government would not be able to muzzle the press.

They said the journalists had never compromised on the principles of journalist and they were ready to render any sacrifice for their rights. They vowed to expand the protest movement after Eidul Fitr if Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not released. The government cannot prevent the journalists from reporting the truth and keeping the people informed, which was their fundamental right guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

Meanwhile in Karachi, the leaders of lawyers bodies, political parties and trade unions joined the protest by the employees of the Jang Geo Group for the release of their editor-in-chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in Karachi on Saturday.

Speaking to the demonstration, Supreme Court Bar Association’s former president Yasin Azad said that the country suffers from the worst kind of democratic martial law in which no one is allowed to speak the truth. Azad remarked that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was a reminder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government’s fascism and Imran Khan was pushing the country to destruction.

Speaking of the concocted case against the Jang Geo editor-in-chief, he said that despite a passage of 65 days the National Accountability Bureau could not produce a reference or evidence and despite that has succeeded in keeping him in illegal detention. He said that the independent media is almost non-existent in the country and the government’s only priority is to put its narrative on the Jang Geo Group’s broadcast and publications and to force Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to toe its line. Azad that since Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman did not accept the government’s dictation, he was put into jail. He pledged the lawyers continued and unwavering support to the Jang Geo Group in its struggle for sustaining the independence of media.

Peoples Labor Bureau leader Amin Baloch said that the Jang Geo Group was a proponent of truth and right and God willing it will win this battle. He lauded the perseverence of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and said that PLB’s all workers were standing by him. The News Employees Union’s president Saeed Muhiuddin Pasha referred to Imran Khan’s statement that the corruption dies down when a competent and honest leader comes into power. He said but on the contrary corruption was rising. Javed Press Employees Union’s general secretary Rana Yusuf said that the Imran Khan’s claims of bringing prosperity have come to a naught and the public was forced into miseries of inflation and unemployment. He demanded the information minister to release the long overdue payment of of Jang Geo Group’s arrears running into billions of rupees so that its employees could get their pending salaries before Eid-ul-Fitr.