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UK journalists demand release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman

Top Story

July 7, 2020

LONDON: The Overseas Pakistani Journalists Action Committee (OPJAC) has called for the release of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been in illegal detention for nearly four months now.

At a protest in West London, journalists from several TV channels and newspapers gathered under the banner of the OPJAC and raised slogans for the release of Mr Shakil-ur-Rahman who was arrested in a fake private land case in order to persecute the largest independent media group of Pakistan.

Pakistan Journalists Association, Pakistan Press Club and members of two other associations took part in the protest. Members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK also participated in the protest against government’s actions of restricting media freedoms in Pakistan.

Wajahat Ali Khan said, “This is the worst example of the state oppression in order to swallow the media’s freedoms. We condemn the fake case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demand his immediate release. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been detained only to teach a lesson to the entire media fraternity of Pakistan.”

Shaukat Dar said that every patriotic overseas Pakistani condemns the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. “We demand that he be freed immediately. It’s a mockery of justice that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been in detention for nearly four months without any evidence of wrongdoing against him or any case against him. PTI government and NAB chairman are responsible for this illegal action.”

Shaukat Dar said that the entire world’s journalists had only one demand and that was the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. OPJAC Convener Azhar Javaid said whenever a government is in trouble; they attack journalists so Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest can be seen through this light.

Azhar Javed said that sacrifices of Jang Group stretched to Pakistan’s history of 70 years. He said that it was unfortunate that the media was being strangulated in Pakistan on the belief that stifling media will somehow help the PTI government.

Ghulam Hussain Awan said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman gave 180 kanals to LDA and got 56 kanals in return. For this crime, he is being punished today which is clearly politically motivated.”

Pakistani media has spoken against the arrest and detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Three days ago, Mubasher Lucman condemned his illegal arrest and claimed that the detention by NAB was not only harming Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman but also thousands of his employees.

Senior journalist Kashif Abbasi also condemned the illegal detention of Jang Group’s Editor-in-Chief, saying that there was no basis to keep him under continued detention.

The NAB arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on March 12 even before formal charges were made against him. The case, which was used to justify this arrest, was a property transaction that occurred 34 years ago in 1986.

Despite providing all evidence and paperwork proving the legality of the transaction, the NAB still arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman going against its own standards of procedures and protocol.

Previously, The South Asia Democracy Watch wrote to The White House, the Secretary of State, and members of the Senate and House members of the Foreign Relations Committee condemning the illegal confinement of Jang/Geo group Editor-in-Chief.

The US State Department, the European Union and the German government have also raised the question as to why Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been arrested without being charged with any crime.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest has also caused an outcry in Pakistan as well as in international forums. Most of the major journalistic organisations including Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have termed this arrest an attack on press freedom. Pakistan has also fallen three spots in the Global Press Freedom Index, from 142 to 145, out of 180 countries.