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September 29, 2020

Protests against Mir Shakil’s detention continue: Action reflective of policy to strong arm free press

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September 29, 2020

KARACHI/LAHORE/RAWALPINDI/PESHAWAR: The countrywide protests by workers and journalists of Jang-Geo Group against the prolonged incarceration of their Editor-In-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued on Monday, dubbing it as a reflection of the vengeful policy of the PTI government to subdue the free press and strong-arm their editorial policies.

In Karachi, the group workers were joined by political leadership, civil society, rights organisations and trade unionists in solidarity against the unjust and unlawful detention of Mir Shakil.

Speaking to the protest, PML-Nawaz leader Parveen Bashir said that instead of waging a vengeful campaign against the independent media and political rivals, the prime minister should go after his corrupt cohorts because of whom the country is facing all-time high inflation, food and power crises.

All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation Secretary General Shakil Yamin Kanga said that the restrictions imposed on the Jang-Geo Group “were a challenge to the public too, should they subscribe to the government’s propaganda or opt for the truth.”

Others who spoke at the demonstration included The News Employees Union general secretary Dara Zafar and Javed Press Employees Union general secretary Rana Yusuf.

Meanwhile, in Peshawar, the members of the journalist community condemned the victimization of the Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his forthwith release.

They assembled outside the offices of Daily Jang, The News and Geo TV to express their outrage. The Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah led the protesters raising slogans against the PTI government and carrying banners and placards inscribed with demands to release Rahman and to stop coercive campaign against the independent media. Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali, Sabz Ali Shah, Farmanullah Jan, Shah Zaman, Ansar Abbas, Ihtesham Toru, Amjad Safi, Sardar Imdad Ali Qazalbash, Raham Dil and others spoke on the occasion.

They condemned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for victimizing opposition and independent media under its whimsical approach of victimizing free media and opposition. They deplored that the anti-graft body was not taking any action against the PTI members allegedly involved in wheat flour, sugar crises, Malam Jabba land transaction, Billion Tree Tsunami and Bus Rapid Transit scandals.

Similarly in Rawalpindi, the protesters raised the slogans against Rahman’s arrest and termed it as an attempt to suppress the voice for the freedom of the media.

Addressing the protest demonstration in Rawalpindi, Secretary General Rawalpindi Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and senior correspondent of Geo News Islamabad Asif Ali Bhatti said the protesting voice of workers of Jang-Geo Group were being heard internationally.

Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a real captain of journalism in Pakistan. In Lahore, journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and Jang Workers Union condemned the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil Ur Rahman.

Staging demonstration outside the Jang offices at the protest camp of Jang, Geo and The News employees they criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for victimising Mir Shakil for exposing corruption and bad governance of the PTI regime, they said, adding that there was no progress either in the investigations into the corruption charges of 34-year-old property exchange case against him nor any formal case was registered. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil.