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May 31, 2020

Detention enters 80th day: Protest against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest continues

Top Story

May 31, 2020

LAHORE: Senior journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and trade union bodies have condemned the detention of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last 80 days.

They regretted that those claiming to make Pakistan a Madina-like state have illegally incarcerated Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a politically motivated case and he was kept in detention even in the holy month of Ramazan. They said there was no progress either in investigations into the 35 years old property exchange charges against him nor any formal case had been registered so far.

They were speaking at a protest camp, set up by the workers of Jang, Geo and The News employees on the call of Joint Action Committee and Jang Employees Union for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman outside the Jang offices on Saturday.

They warned that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government could not continue its dictatorial policies to curb freedom of expression and force economic murder of the media workers for long. They threatened to launch an anti-government movement across country if the Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief was not released.

Those who participated in the protest camp and visited it to express solidarity with the protestors included Group Editor Jang Group Shaheen Qureshi, Jang Works Union Secretary General Farooq Malik, civil society leader Abdullah Malik, socialists leader Comrade Zawwar Hussain Bukhari, senior journalist and News Editor of Pakistan Times, Zaheer Anjum, Maqsood Butt, Sher Ali Khalti, Awais Qarni, Khizr Hayat Gondal, Naseem Qureshi, Munawwar Hussain and office-bearers of the Jang Employees Union and others.

Shaheen Qureshi lambasted the PTI government as fascist and worst kind of authoritarian regime that was bent upon gagging the voice of independent media to hide its corruption and maladministration. He demanded the government release the withheld Rs6 billion arrears of the media houses immediately.

Maqsood Butt said the media could not work for the truth without freedom, as it played the role of watchdog for society and the country.

Zaheer Anjum said: “Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should be released immediately as his arrest was a symbolic move to usurp the media freedom.

Abdullah Malik said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was being punished for writing and reporting the truth, but the rulers would not be able to pressure him as he represented the free media.

Comrade Zawwar Hussain said the fake and fabricated case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should be withdrawn and he should be released.

In Karachi, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz leader Iqbal Khaksar on Saturday said that the powers in the country have always stopped media from portraying the truth and have attacked it in case it goes against their wishes and demands.

Speaking to the protest demonstration by the Jang-Geo Group, Khaksar said that the fight which Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is fighting started from his father Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman who is dubbed as the father of journalism in the country.

He appreciated the resilience of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in the face of incarceration and pressure from the government and commented that spending these 79 days in cell, he has told the powers that he is not going to succumb.

He said that the prime minister Imran Khan was an egoistic person who put his vendetta over the country. He referred to the government’s so-called accountability campaign and asked what kind of accountability it was which only touched the rivals.

Karachi Press Club president Imtiaz Khan Faran said that the only of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was that he promoted truth and maintained independent editorial policies. He said that the government had become a laughing stock in the world for his own actions.

Others who spoke at the demonstration included The News Union president Saeed Muhiuddin Pasha, Javed Press Union general secretary Rana Yusuf and All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga.

In Peshawar, the workers here on Saturday continued to protest against the arrest of Jang/Geo Group 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 and withdrawal of cases against him. The protesters chanted slogans against the government and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for detaining Mir Shakil in a three decades old property case without fulfilling the legal formalities.

Speaking on the occasion, Resident Editor Daily Jang Peshawar Arshad Aziz Malik and other journalists, including Shamim Shahid, Shakeel Farman Ali and Gohar Ali, condemned the government and NAB or arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

They said the rulers would not be able to suppress voice of media through such tactics and the journalists would continue telling the truth. Terming the arrest of Mir Shakil an attack on media, the protesting journalists said that he was being punished for speaking the truth. They said the rulers should hold the corrupt accountable by probing wrongdoings in Bus Rapid Transit project, Malam Jaba land scam, Billion Tree Tsunami project, sugar and flour scandals.

Demanding the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him, the protesters said the previous governments had also tried to suppress voice of independent media but they could not succeed in their designs. They warned to expand protest movement if their demands were not met.