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October 13, 2020

For release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman: Jang/Geo workers’ protest goes on

Top Story

October 13, 2020

LAHORE: The protest of journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and the trade union of the Jang Group against the arrest of Jang Group/Geo TV Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued for the 191st consecutive day on Monday.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahamn has been under the NAB custody for the last 213 days for a 35-year old property exchange matter without any proof of charges or making any progress in the investigations. Staging the demonstration outside the Jang offices, the protesters criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking a U-turn on his tall claims of 20 years to turn Pakistan into a Madina-like state. They alleged that Imran used the slogan only to woo media support to win elections and come to power. They said Imran had been victimising Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI regime. They lamented that although Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been detained yet no progress was made in the investigations and no 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 PTI regime and condemned the illegal anti-Media tactics of the NAB.

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

The protesters included Secretary General of Jang Workers Union Malik Farooq Awan, News Editor of Pakistan Times Zaheer Anjum, PPP leader Agha Abbas Kazmi, senior journalists Awais Qarni, Muhammad Shafiq, Munawwar Hussain, Ms Ayesha Akram, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Shahzad Rauf, Zahid Mehmood, Masood Ahmad and others.

Speaking on the occasion, 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 itsown corruption and bad governance. He feared that the owners of other media houses were the next target after Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was the first casualty in the PTI government’s stifling media policy. He said that choking the entire media would become an easy target for the PTI government when the top-ranking media house would either be closed down or badly reduced to the size. He said the 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 to the ruling elite.

Awais Qarni said media cannot work for the truth without freedom. He noted that dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf used to do such victimisation and then media workers were being victimised by Imran Khan to curb media. He said the whole world knew the truth that Imran was selected in 'sham' elections and was then proving that he was not the representative of the masses.

Agha Abbas Kazmi said victimisation of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman must come to an end and he should be released as his arrest was a symbolic move to usurp media freedom. He said the government was busy curbing the voice of the media and victimising the media owners instead of providing relief to the people from the economic crunch. He said the Jang Group always reported the truth.