RAWALPINDI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR/KARACHI: The Jang-Geo Group journalists and workers on Friday said all the international journalists, human rights activists and intellectuals declared the detention of Group's Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as illegal and was only meant to manipulate the free media in Pakistan.
They said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman became a powerful voice for freedom of the media in the country. The journalists and workers of the Geo-Jang Group along with journalist organisations, representatives of civil society and political workers have been continuing their countrywide protest against the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the last seven months. At the protest camp outside the offices of Jang and The News in Rawalpindi, the protesters raised slogans for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Addressing the protest camp, Chairman Joint Action Committee of workers of Geo-Jang Group Islamabad and President Jang Workers Union Nasir Chisti said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman refused to compromise on his principled stance on the freedom of media and it gave strength to voices who were struggling for the freedom of media in the country.
PML-N leader Imtiaz Taji said the workers of the political parties stood with the workers of Geo and Jang Group in the movement for justice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Among others, who also participated in the protest camp in Rawalpindi include Nusrat Malik, Kamal Shah, Naseerul Haq, Azhar Sultan, Aslam Butt, Athar Naqvi, Khalid Mehmood and other social and political workers.
Similarly, in Lahore, journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and Jang Workers Union continued their protest against Rahman's illegal arrest and detention for the last 210 days.
Staging demonstration outside the Jang Offices Friday at the protest camp, they criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for victimising Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI regime. They regretted that editor-in-chief was detained for the last six months but there has been no progress made in investigations into the 34-year-old property exchange case. The protesters termed it a blatant attack on media freedom and a conspiracy to close down country’s largest media group. They raised slogans against the fascist government and condemned the anti-media tactics of the NAB. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and threatened to launch anti-government movement across the country if he was not released.
Jang Works Union’s Secretary General Malik Farooq Awan, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, senior journalists Muhammad Shafiq, Awais Qarni, Abdul Wahab, Ayesha Akram, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Shahzad Rauf, Zahid Mehmood, Khizar Hayat and Masood Ahmad were prominent among the protesters.
In Peshawar, the members of the journalist community on Friday continued the protest against the arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his release. The Peshawar Press Club president Syed Bukhar Shah led the protest outside the offices of Daily Jang, The News, and the Geo News.
The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans which sought the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They slammed the government for targeting the Jang Media Group and arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The protesters said the Jang Group chief had been detained in a case on cooked-up charges. They were critical of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for allegedly pressurising the opposition and the free media while ignoring huge corruption committed by the ruling party members. Syed Bukhar Shah, Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali, Farmanullah Jan, Gohar Ali, Ansar Abbas, Imdad Ali Qazalbash and others spoke on the occasion.
Likewise in Karachi, speaking to the demonstration for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Pir Ilahi Bux Foundation’s general secretary Ali Asghar said that Jang-Geo Group was the leading media institution in the country and had always supported the truth and reported the facts.
Asghar said the government was setting a wrong precedent which will hurt itself later. He said that the existence of independent media is important for democracy but the crackdown against free media has gone to prove that this so-called elected government is doing far worse than dictatorships. He added that Rahman’s long incarceration spoke of his resilience in front of systematic harassment.
He reiterated his support to the protesting employees of the Jang-Geo Group and lauded their struggle. Others who spoke at the demonstration included All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation’s secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga, Muslim League-Nawaz’s Sindh vice-president Iqbal Khaksar, APNEC vice-chairman Rana Yusuf and The News Employees Union’s general secretary Dara Zafar.