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September 12, 2020

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention: Jang-Geo workers show unflinching resolve in protest

Top Story

September 12, 2020

RAWALPINDI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The journalists and workers of Geo and Jang Group along with the journalist organisations, representatives of civil society and political workers continued their protest against the illegal and unjustified arrest of Editor-in-Chief Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

The protesters held the peaceful demonstrations outside the offices of Jang and The News in Rawalpindi and chanted slogans for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been under illegal and unjustified custody for the last 182 days.

The protest demonstration were attended by Chairman Joint Action Committee of workers of Geo and Jang Group Islamabad and President Jang Workers Union Nasir Chisti, Resident Editor Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid, Secretary General RIUJ Asif Ali Bhatti, Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir, Rahat Munir, Asif Bashir Chaudhry, Shakil Awan, Sajid Chaudhry, Azhar Jamal, Kamal Shah, Nusrat Malik, Amjad Abbasi, Aslam Butt, Nadeem Khan, Sardar Heera Lal, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, and other workers of Jang and The News.

The protesters raised slogans for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and vowed to foil the conspiracies against the Geo and Jang group and freedom of media. The protesters also raised slogans against victimisation of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

The protesters said the protest camp of the workers of the Geo and Jang Group will continue till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. In Lahore, journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and Jang Workers Union continued condemning the PTI government for usurping media freedom through different tactics like keeping Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman detained in the NAB custody for the last 182 days.

While staging a demonstration outside the Jang Offices Friday at the protest camp of the workers of Jang, Geo and The News for the 157th consecutive day, they lamented that Prime Minister Imran Khan had been claiming to turn Pakistan into a Madina-like state for the last two decades, and was voted to power with the help of media. But strangely he had been victimising Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI regime, they said, adding that there was no progress either in investigations into the corruption charges against him nor any formal case registered. The protesters termed it a blatant attack on media freedom, shouted slogans against the fascist government and condemned the anti-media tactics of the NAB.

They demanded the chief justice to take a suo motu notice against this illegal arrest which was a direct attack on the freedom of expression and liberty of media. They vowed to continue struggle till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They also threatened to launch anti-government movement across the country if he was not released.

The protesters included Jang Workers Union Secretary General Farooq Malik, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, Awais Qarni, Ms Ayesha Akram, Ms Riffat, Saleem Kamran, Romeo Jalib, Muhammad Shafiq, Aziz Sheikh, Muhammad Irshad, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ali, Hafiz Asad, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, and Mushtaq. Zaheer Anjum termed the PTI government as the worst kind of fascist and authoritarian regime bent upon gagging the voice of media to prevent exposure of its own corruption and bad governance. He warned that after Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, other owners of the media houses will be the next target. He said choking the entire media would become an easy target for the PTI government and establishment when the top-ranking media house would either be closed down or badly reduced to size. He said media houses 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.

He said media cannot work for the truth without freedom as it played the role of watchdog for the society. He noted that such victimisations were forced by dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Zia, Gen Pervez Musharraf, in the past, and now media workers were being victimised by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was selected by the establishment to curb media.

Farooq Malik said victimisation of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman must come to an end after detaining him for over five months, and he should be released as his arrest was a symbolic move to usurp media freedom. Already the results desired by the rulers were coming out and the arrest was leading towards the crumbling of other media houses and closure of noted news channels and retrenchment of workers.

Ayesha Akram said the editor-in-chief is symbol of freedom of expression and this struggle is not only for his release but also for the freedom of media. Aziz Sheikh said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not only a conspiracy against the Jang Group but also the first step to mute all the voices of the independent media. He said the journalists staging hunger strikes have proved that they would win this battle also as they had achieved success in the past against the military dictators. Shafiq Ahmad said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was being punished for writing and reporting the truth but the rulers would not be able to pressure him as he represented the free media. He said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was meant to suppress the independent media and it was an illegal detention since he had always kept his financial dealings clean and its proof was that no government could ever find any doubtful deal done by him.

In Peshawar, journalists renewed the call for an early release of the Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as they continued the protest against his arrest.

The protesters gathered outside the offices of Daily Jang, The News and Geo TV and were carrying banners and placards. They raised chants against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for targeting the Jang Group and arm-twisting the independent media. Those who spoke on the occasion included Daily Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali, Sabz Ali Shah, Ansar Abbas, Imdad Ali Qazalbash, Qaiser Khan, Gohar Ali, Shah Zaman, Rahamdil and others.

The speakers flayed the PTI government for arresting the Jang Group chief over cooked-up charges on March 12 and keeping him interned since then. They lamented that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been behind bars for the last 184 days as the rulers wanted to punish the Jang Media Group for promoting independent journalism.

The speakers slammed the National Accountability Bureau for its selective working, ignoring the government figures and suppressing the opposition parties and gagging the independent media.

They said the biased attitude of the so-called anti-graft watchdog could be gauged by the fact it was not taking up those massive scandals, which involved the ruling party members. The speakers appealed to the Supreme Court to take notice of the case and provide justice to the Jang/Geo Group chief.