KARACHI/LAHORE/ PESZHWAR/ RAWALPINDI: The workers and journalists of Geo and Jang Group along with the journalists organisations and political workers continued their protest against illegal arrest of Geo/Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been in detention for last three months, and vowed to continue struggle till his release.
The countrywide protest of the workers of Geo and Jang Group along with the Pakistan Federal Unions of Journalists, representatives of the civil society, lawyers and workers of the political parties against the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and against curbs on the media continued on the 90th day on Thursday and vowed to resist all the conspiracies against the Geo and Jang Group and stood united for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Addressing the protesters outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi on Thursday, the speakers called for release of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief and said that purpose of his arrest was only to bring the media under pressure.
The speakers including PFUJ Secretary General Nasir Zaidi, Magazine Editor Jang Rawalpindi Farooq Aqdas, Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir, Secretary General RIUJ and Senior correspondent Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti and other workers of Geo and Jang Group said despite passing of 90 days, the workers and journalists of Geo and Jang Group along with PFUJ stood with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and will continue the struggle till his release.
They said the government is conspiring to control the media through censorship to hide the truth before the people. They said that the image of Pakistan tainted in the world with illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
They said the present government has also adopted the policies of Musharraf government with regard to media to mute the voice of free media. In Lahore, Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been in detention for the last three months for raising voice for freedom of the press, and if the government does not release him, a “Press Freedom Zindabad and Imran Khan Murdabad” campaign will be launched.
This was a consensus view expressed by the speakers while showing solidarity with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman during the ongoing protest campaign at Davis Road here. The speakers, including senior journalists, Jang & Geo Group workers, and prominent personalities from all walks of life said that raising a voice for the press freedom has always been a crime, but Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has never shied away from standing against tyrants.
The speakers paid rich tributes to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman over his stand against the enemies of the Press freedom. They pledged that the protest and struggle of journalists and workers would continue till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Those who spoke on the occasion included Editor Jang Shaheen Qureshi, Maqsood Butt, Khizar Hayat Gondal, Mian Abid, Zaheer Anjum, Awais Qarni, Mohammad Farooq, Shahid Aziz Sheikh, Akmal Bhatti, Wahab Khanzada and Afzal Abbas.
In Peshawar, the workers from the Jang/Geo Group on Thursday continued the protest camp against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands. Chanting slogans against the government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB), they demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of the cases instituted against him.
Speaking on the occasion, senior journalists including Arshad Aziz Malik, Syed Sabz Ali Shah, Shakeel Farman Ali and others said Mir Shakil was being victimised for not toeing government line. They said this was why he had been detained for the last 88 days in a 34 years old property case which had nothing to do with the government. The speakers said the government could not prove a single case against him up till now. Terming the arrest an attack on the independent press, they recalled that the release of government advertisements had been stopped to his major media group and later the number of Geo transmission was changed in bid to cut its viewership. The speakers said such tactics had been used in the past as well but the media workers and owners braved all the odds.
They hoped the so-called champions of change and reforms, would not be able to pressurise Jang, Geo and The News. The speakers said the anti-media policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had created problems for the workers, who were not being paid salaries regularly.
They appealed to the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take notice of the situation and provide justice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The media workers resolved to continue the protest till the acceptance of their demands which included the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him.
In Karachi, Organisation for Restoration of Committee (Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan) leader Shahid Pasha condemned on Thursday the detention of Jang Geo Group editor-in-chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release from jail.
Pasha said that the authorities must establish a case if they want to try Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as it was a sheer violation of the fundamental rights of a person to keep him in custody without a charge sheet. He termed the detention a pressure tactic by the government to subdue the Jang Geo Group.
“This is no banana republic, it is democratic republic of Pakistan and must be run accordingly,” he remarked, adding that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was a convict yet he obtained bail and traveled abroad. “On the other hand, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is jailed for three months without an FIR.”
He said the public is amazed how the National Accountability Bureau arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old private transaction matter without any reason since he was already appearing regularly for interrogation.
He said that convicts travel abroad, crisis barons sit in the government but an editor-in-chief of a respected news organization which has a historical correspondence with the country and a readership across the world is put behind bars for upholding the truth.
He added that the federal government was waging a vindictive campaign against the Jang Geo Group. He reiterated his party’s support to the protesting Jang Geo Group workers and cross section of society in their campaign for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
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