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Arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman: Jang-Geo workers protests enter 103rd day

By our correspondents
June 23, 2020

RAWALPINDI: The participants of countrywide protest of workers and journalists of Geo and Jang Group on Monday wowed to resist all the odds and will stand firm with Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and to continue their protest till his release as he has been illegal custody without any charge since last 103 days.

The workers and journalists of Geo and Jang group along with the representatives of the journalist organisations, political workers and civil society continued their protest outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi and chanted slogans against illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Addressing the protest camp, Chairman Joint Action Committee of the workers of Geo and Jang group Rawalpindi and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is facing the illegal arrest with courage and refused to make any compromise on principles. “The morale of workers of Geo and Jang Group is also high and stood with their Editor-in-Chief and will continue their struggle for his release,” he said.

Magazine Editor Jang Rawalpindi Farooq Aqdas said not only the common man but also parliamentarians were also started asking the reasons of putting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman behind the bar without charge for the last 103 days.

He said the people of Pakistan were asking from the rulers why Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is behind the bars. Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said this is struggle for the freedom of media and supremacy of the Constitution and law of land.

He said the workers of the Geo and Jang group stood united and will fail all the conspiracies against Geo and Jang Group with their unity. “All the workers of the Geo and Jang Group stood with the narrative of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the freedom of media and will not compromise on it,” he said adding that the freedom of media will be achieved in the leadership of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Media worker of Jang Group Munir Shah said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman proved that the government neither wanted the justice in the system nor freedom of media.

Media worker of Jang Group Amjad Abbasi said the real intentions of the government has been exposed with the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a fake and fabricated case.

Media worker of Jang Group Nusrat Malik said the time will prove that arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was made in false and fabricated case.

Media worker of Jang Group Zafar Bhatti said the workers stood firm with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in the struggle of truth.

In Lahore, journalists, civil society members and people from different walks of life continued their protest against the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman amid arm twisting tactics of the government against the media houses.

The process of victimisation of media houses started the day the PTI took power but curbing the media was initiated when the government using the NAB started suppressing the Jang Group and arrested its editor-in-chief.

It’s been 100 days since suppression of journalists was launched by the PTI government with the detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, which is continuing without Supreme Court taking notice of the unjustified arrest.

These were the views of senior journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and trade union bodies, who condemned the detention of editor-in-chief. The protest staged on Davis Road Monday was also attended by a large number of media workers. They shouted slogans for MSR’s release and condemned the curbs on freedom of media and conspiracies being hatched to close down Jang Group and Geo. They lamented that those claiming to make Pakistan a Madina-like state have incarcerated Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman despite the fact that there was no progress in investigations into the 34 years old property exchange charges against him neither any formal case registered. They demanded immediate release of MSR and warned that the PTI government could not continue its dictatorial policies to curb freedom of expression and force the economic murder of media workers for long. They threatened to launch an anti-government movement across the country if he was not released.

The media workers were also joined by the PPP leaders advocate Iftikhar Shahid, Shahida Jabeen, Rehman Shahid, Qaiser Saleem, Amjad, Muhammad Naeem and Muhammad Wajid. Other prominent among the protesters were: Jang Workers Union Secretary General Farooq Malik, Ishaq Shakir, Pakistan Times news editor Zaheer Anjum, Maqsood Butt, Maqsood Awan, Shahab Ansari, Sher Ali Khalti, Asher Butt, Awais Qarni, Khizar Hayat Gondal, Aziz Sheikh, Shahid Aziz and Munawwar Hussain.

Senior journalist Azhar Munir, who has been on hunger-strike for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, also participated in the protest and presented a poem.

In Peshawar, Awami National Party (ANP) provincial president Aimal Wali Khan said on Monday that his party was striving for the independence of the media and judiciary.

He expressed these views during a visit to the protest camp of the Jang/Geo Group workers demanding the release of their Editor-in-Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The ANP leader said that his party supported the Jang/Geo Group in its struggle for the press freedom. He said that Khudai Khidmatgar Movement of Bacha Khan and later ANP had been demanding the rights of people and would continue the efforts until the independence of the institutions. Aimal Wali said that the government wanted to control the media through different tactics, adding that it was the same media that had enabled Imran Khan to reach the corridors of power and become prime minister.

The ANP provincial chief said that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old case was an insult to humanity. He said that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) could not provide any proofs to justify cases against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and political leaders arrested in fabricated charges. The ANP leader said the NAB had made a mockery of accountability. After politicians, media was being targeted by the government through NAB, he said and added that the ANP would oppose any action that endangered basic human rights. Aimal Wali Khan said that freedom of expression was a constitutional right and no person or institution could snatch this right from citizens. He said the NAB had been used by the government to silence criticism, adding the ANP rejected the selective accountability. The ANP leader demanded release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and other political leaders.

He also demanded a probe into the Bus Rapid Transit Project, Mala Jabba land scam and sugar and flour crises.

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