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August 4, 2020

Protest against illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continues

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August 4, 2020

KARACHI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The supporters of the hyped change which brought prime minister Imran Khan into power are being rewarded through incarceration and suppression to the extent that they are repenting their decision to vote for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the general election 2018, remarked Karachi Municipal Corporation Union's president Zulfiqar Ali Shah while speaking to the protest demonstration at Karachi for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on Monday. The trade unions and political leaders have joined the four-month long protests by the Jang-Geo workers against the crackdown on the free media, stifling independence of expression and the vendetta against Jang Geo Editor in Chief Mir Shakil Ur Rahman.

Shah warned that if the government did not set Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman free then the whole trade unions across the country will take to streets and would not return until their demands are met with.

Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz leader Iqbal Khaksar said that almost everyone in the country was fed up with this government's policies which have plunged the economy intro turmoil and put at risk the livelihoods of millions of people.

He said that whole world was condemning the detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman yet the government was not paying any heed to maintain the sanctity of law. All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation's secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga, The News Employees Union's general secretary Dara Zafar, Javed Press Employees Union's general secretary Rana Yusuf demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of government's attack on the fourth pillar of the state. Likewise in Lahore,senior journalists, civil society leaders, office-bearers of media unions and trade union of Jang Group have condemned NAB-Niazi nexus which had detained Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a politically-motivated case for the last 143 days without any progress in investigations.

They were staging demonstration on 119th consecutive day outside the Jang Offices Monday at the protest camp of Jang, Geo and The News employees set up for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Those who joined the protest camp included Jang’s Group Editor Shaheen Qureshi, Jang Workers Union Secretary General Farooq Malik, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, The News deputy chief reporter Asim Hussain, Amir Taimur Malik, Awais Qarni, Sher Ali Khalti, Muhammad Shafiq, Aziz Sheikh, Munawwar Hussain, Muhammad Naeem, M. Nawaz, Muhammad Wajed, Wahab Khanzada, Akmal Bhatti, Hafiz Asad, Mohammad Ali and Afzal Abbas.

Shaheen Qureshi termed the PTI government the worst kind of fascist and authoritarian regime that was bent upon gagging the voice of independent media to prevent exposure of its own corruption and bad governance. He warned that Mir Shakil-ur- Rahman was the first casualty of the PTI government’s stifling media policy, while other owners of the media houses were the next target. He said gagging the voice of media would become an easy target for the ruling elite and establishment when few top-ranking media houses would either be closed down or badly reduced to size with a little number of employees left. He said media owners must realise that unless they empower their workers and professional journalists their own strength would be seriously curtailed, and they would become an easy prey for the establishment and ruling elite, adding that the case of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should serve as an eye-opener for all media houses owners.

In Peshawar, the members of the Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) and the Peshawar Press Club continued the protest even during Eidul Azha against the arrest of the Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and renewed the demand for his early release.

The protesting media men carried banners and placards inscribed with slogans. They demanded the release of the Editor In Chief. Among the speakers were Daily Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali, Imdad Ali Qazalbash, KhUJ Vice-President Rizwan Sheikh and others. They termed the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman illegal, unconstitutional and an attack on the independent media. The speakers flayed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB for victimizing the head of the largest media group of the country by detaining its owner. They said the NAB had no right to arrest a person in a three decades-old property case, adding Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested because NAB had become a tool in the hands of the PTI govt. Other speakers said coercive tactics were being used to pressure the Jang Media Group such as stopping advertisements and disrupting the Geo TV transmission which was sheer injustice.