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July 3, 2020

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest: Protest of Jang-Geo Group workers continues

Top Story

July 3, 2020

KARACHI/MULTAN/RAWALPINDI/PESHAWAR: The countrywide protests by the workers of Geo and Jang Group declared Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as a symbol of resistance and torch bearer of the freedom of media in the country and pledged to continue the protest till his honourable release. The protesters were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans to protest over the curbs against independence and freedom of thought by the government.

In Peshawar, the protesting workers of Jang, Geo and The News renewed the demand for the release of Editor-in-Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s release who has now completed 113 days in unlawful detention. He was taken into custody on March 12, this year, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a 34 years old private property case in the investigation stage.

They sought the release Mir Shakil and withdrawal of the cases instituted against him. A senior journalist and Daily Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik was leading the protesters.

The Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah, Imdad Ali Qazalbash, Bureau Chief Geo News Shakeel Farman Ali and others were there as well among the protesters.

Flaying the government and NAB for detaining the head of the major media house and termed the arrest an attack on the independent press and said the apex court must take quick notice of this illegality and travesty of justice.

They also criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-NAB nexus for victimizing the political opponents and silencing the independent media. The protesters resolved to continue the struggle till the acceptance of their demands, saying such coercive tactics had never pressured them in the past nor would they succeed in humbling them now. They said the regime should have held the accountability of those involved in Bus Rapid Transit, Malam Jabba and Billion Tree Project if they were sincere in accountability.

In Rawalpindi, the Joint Action Committee of workers of Geo and Jang Group were joined at their protest camp by a large cross section of journalist organizations, representatives of the civil society and political workers near the Jang Building.

Addressing the protesters, Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist Nasir Zaidi said their movement launched for the release of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group has turned into the movement of masses. “The protest camps were being staged all over the country for his release,” he said. The Chairman Editorial Committee of Jang Rawalpindi, Hanif Khalid, said the demand for the release of Editor-in-Chief was not only being raised in Pakistan but it has now become an international call by the international journalists and Human Rights organizations who were also demanding his release.

The Magazine Editor of Jang Rawalpindi Farooq Aqdas said the workers of Geo and Jang Group has proved their affection with Mir Shakil and soon now time will come when he will stand with his workers following his release in the false and fabricated case. The Chairman Joint Action Committee and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti hoped that Editor-in-Chief will get a relief by the judiciary. Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said Rahman has refused to compromise on his indpendent editorial policies and has become a strong voice for the freedom of media in the country. Secretary General RIUJ and senior correspondent Geo News Islamabad Asif Al Bhatti said the language used by the ministers against the Geo and Jang group goes on to prove that they were behind the conspiracies against the media group. He expressed the hope Rahman will be released soon.

In Karachi, condemning the detention of Editor-in-Chief, Supreme Court Bar Association’s vice president Adnan Ahmed said that the Article 18 of the constitution safeguards freedom of speech to each and every citizen of the country. He said that if the government wanted to control the voice of the people it should first abolish this article otherwise there is no legal and constitutional justification to keep Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in custody. He said that it was unjust to keep him in detention without proof of any crime. He said that the government was making of mockery of law and constitution and to stop this, the apex court must intervene.

Ahmed said that the constitution guaranteed citizens freedom of thought and expression and no one could subdue their thoughts. He added that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is indicative that it wants to muzzle the independent media. He remarked that the Jang-Geo Group had a long history of upholding independent journalism, fighting to uphold it against all the despots and those under the garb of democrats while promoted the good name of country and highlighting the problems. He said that the lawyers stood by with the protesting media workers and demanded Rahman’s immediate release.

In Multan also, also the workers of Jang, Geo and The News staged a demonstration to protest the continued government’s persecution campaign against the Jang-Geo Group boiling down to the prolonged arbitrary detention of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release.

The protesters said that the case against the media guru was a fabricated only to force him to print and air the government sanctioned truth. They said the government’s policies are aimed to hurt the circulation of Pakistan’s largest Urdu daily Jang, The News and to shut down the Geo News.

They said that the press and media were two important watchdogs of the society and the government in sheer frustration over its crisis of governance and inept leadership has decided to crush the free media. The government policies were bringing unrest in the society and maligning the soft image of Pakistan in the world, they added.