Wednesday June 07, 2023

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention: Jang/Geo workers continue protest

October 04, 2020

LAHORE: Journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and trade union of Jang Group on Saturday continued protesting against the arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last 204 days over a 35-year-old property exchange matter without giving any proof of charges or making any progress in investigations.

Staging a demonstration outside Jang offices at a protest camp for 182nd consecutive day, they criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking U-turn on his tall claims of over 20 years to turn Pakistan into a Madina-like state, alleging that he used the slogan only to woo media support to come into power. But, they said, actually Imran Khan has been victimizing Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI government. They lamented that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was detained despite that neither any progress was made in investigations into the corruption charges of 35 years old property exchange case nor any formal case was registered. The participants termed it a blatant attack on media freedom and a conspiracy to close down the country’s largest media group. They chanted slogans against the fascist PTI regime and condemned the illegal and anti-media tactics of the NAB.

They demanded that the chief justice of Pakistan take a suo motu action against this gross injustice which is a direct attack on the freedom of expression and liberty of media. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and threatened to launch an anti-government movement across the country if he is not released.

The participants in the protest included Secretary General of Jang Workers Union Farooq Awan, News Editor of Pakistan Times Zaheer Anjum, senior journalists Awais Qarni, Muhammad Shafiq, Sher Ali Khalti, Ayesha Akram, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ali, Romeo Jalib, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas and others.

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 warned that the owners of other media houses are the next target as Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is the first casualty in the PTI government’s stifling media policy. 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 owners must realize 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.

Muhammad Shafiq said media cannot work for truth without freedom as it plays the role of a watchdog for the society and country. He noted that such victimizations were forced by dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq, Gen Pervez Musharraf in the past and now media workers are being victimized by Imran Khan who was selected by the establishment to curb media.

He said the whole world knows the truth that Imran Khan was selected in sham elections and is now proving that he is not the representative of the masses and democracy.

Sher Ali Khalti said victimization of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman must come to an end and he should be released as his arrest is a symbolic move to usurp media freedom. Already the results desired by the rulers are coming out and the arrest is leading towards crumbling of other media houses and closure of noted news channels and retrenchment of workers in others.

He said the government instead of providing relief to people from the economic crunch is busy curbing the voice of media and victimizing media owners. He said the Jang Group always reported the truth.

Farooq Awan said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a symbol of freedom of expression and this struggle is not only for his release but also for the freedom of media in the future. He said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is not only a conspiracy against the Jang/Geo Group but also the first step to mute all voices of independent media.