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September 17, 2020

Jang/Geo workers say Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has become symbol of press freedom

Top Story

September 17, 2020

RAWALPINDI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The protesters at the demonstration against the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman while calling for his release said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is fighting the cause of the freedom of media in the country.

The journalists and workers of Geo and Jang Group along with the journalist organisations, representatives of civil society and political workers continued their countrywide protest against detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last 187 days.

The protesters at the protest camp outside the offices of Jang and The News in Rawalpindi chanted slogans and raised placards and banners for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and against the restrictions on freedom of media.

Those who addressed the protest camp in Rawalpindi included Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Nasir Zaidi, Chairman Joint Action Committee of the workers of Geo and Jang Group Islamabad and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti, Resident Editor Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid, Secretary General RIUJ and Senior correspondent Geo News Islamabad Asif Ali Bhatti, Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir, Rahat Munir, Munir Shah, Kamal Shah, Nusrat Malik, Amjad Abbasi, Aslam Butt, Nadeem Khan, Sardar Heera Lal, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, and other workers of Jang and The News.

They said those who targeted Geo and Jang Group will fail in their motives as all the workers of the Geo and Jang group stood united to protect the freedom of media.

They hoped for getting justice from Supreme Court of Pakistan. They said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has now become symbol of struggle for the freedom of media in the country. They said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman made a target only for raising the voice for the freedom of media in the country.

They said the freedom of the media is a guarantee for the protection of basic human rights of the people of Pakistan. They said Geo and Jang Group always lead the struggle for the freedom of media in the country.

They said the narrative of freedom of media is a narrative of the whole nation. In Lahore, journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and Jang Workers Union lamented that PTI government was usurping media freedom and causing mass unemployment in media industry through different tactics including detaining Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last 186 days.

While staging a demonstration outside the Jang Offices Wednesday at the protest camp of the workers of Jang, Geo and The News, 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 participants termed it a blatant attack on media freedom, shouted slogans against the fascist government and condemned the anti-media tactics of the NAB.

Jang Workers Union Secretary General Farooq Malik, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, Muhammad Shafiq, Sher Ali Khalti, Awais Qarni, Humayun Zaman Mirza, Amjad Saeed, Qaiser Saleem Khan, Ijaz Rasool, Ms Ayesha Akram, Ms Riffat, Saleem Kamran, Romeo Jalib, Aziz Sheikh, Muhammad Irshad, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ali, Hafiz Asad, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas and Mushtaq were among the protesters.

Zaheer Anjum termed the PTI government 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 said other owners of the media houses will be the next target after Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who was the first casualty of PTI government’s stifling media policy.

He said choking the entire media would become an easy target for the 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 the case of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should serve as eye-opener for all media houses owners.

Muhammad Shafiq said victimisation of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman must come to an end after the detention of over five months, and he should be released as his arrest was a symbolic move to usurp media freedom. Already the results desired by 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 in others recently. Sher Ali Khalti said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is the symbol of freedom of expression and this struggle is not only for his release but also for the freedom of media.

He said this campaign would continue against the puppet rulers even after his release since it was a conspiracy against the journalists and the freedom of expression. He said everybody in the country who struggled for the freedom of expression was Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Farooq Malik said the fabricated case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should be withdrawn and he should be released. He warned that if the editor-in-chief was not released then the protest would gain momentum and create more problems for the government.

Ayesha Akram 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. She 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.

In Peshawar, journalists demanded immediate release of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

The protesters gathered outside the offices of Daily Jang, The News and Geo TV to voice anger at the long detention of the head of the largest media group of the country. The protesters chanted slogans against the government for employing pressure tactics against free media. Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali, Farmanullah Jan, Sabz Ali Shah, Gohar Ali, Amjad Safi, Ehtesham Toru, Imdad Ali Qazalbash, Rahamdil and others spoke on the occasion.

The speakers came down hard on the government for arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on cooked-up charges on March 12 and keeping him under detention since then. The protesters said that the Jang Group chief had been behind bars for the last 189 days. They alleged that he was being victimised for promoting independent journalism.

The speakers also criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The speakers requested the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take notice of the case and provide justice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.