KARACHI/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: The countrywide protests by journalists and workers of Jang-Geo against the over seven months long illegal and unjustified detention of Editor-in-Chief of the Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued on Monday. They said that the persecution of Rahman and that of the larger Jang Group highlights the fast shrinking space for dissent and criticism in the country, which is the soul of democracy.
In Rawalpindi, newsmen and workers of the Jang-Geo Group, along with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists, representatives of the civil society and political workers, gathered outside the offices of Jang and The News and chanted slogans while carrying banners for Rahman’s release and the unprecedented censorship.
During the protest, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists announced holding a countrywide protest for the freedom of media on October 22. Announcing the protests, Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Nasir Zaidi said now the people were coming out on the streets to protect democracy and Constitution that not only guarantees the basic human rights but also protect the freedom of the media. He said the day will come soon when the struggle for the freedom of the media in the country will succeed.
Chairman Joint Action Committee of Geo-Jang Group Islamabad and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti, Resident Editor Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid, Secretary General RIUJ and senior correspondent Geo New Islamabad Asif Ali Bhatti said the Editor-in-Chief of Jang-Geo Group will continue to support the movement for the freedom of the media in the country. Amjad Abbasi, Munir Shah, Nadeem Khan, Kamal Shah, Naseerul Haq, Azhar Sultan, Aslam Butt, Athar Naqvi and other social and political workers also addressed on the occasion.
In Karachi, PML-N leader Iqbal Khaksar said that the government wanted to stop the truth from reaching the public by draconian curbs on independent media. Khaksar, who is the vice-president for PML-N Sindh, said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was the son of a principled and committed journalist Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman and he would not succumb to the government pressure. He said the seven-month-long detention manifest that the editor-in-chief has not surrendered his journalistic values.
He said that the global media and rights community, along with the whole country, was demanding Mir Shakil’s release and soon the government will have to pay heed to it. He said the arrest of the top newsman of the country who enjoys credibility is not only incomprehensible but raises questions about the democratic credentials of the government. Others who spoke at the demonstration included All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation’s secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga, The News Employees Union’s general secretary Dara Zafar and Javed Press Employees Union’s general secretary Rana Yusuf.
Similarly in Lahore, a cross-section of journalists, members of the civil society, office-bearers of media unions and trade union of the Jang Group held yet another day of protest against Rahman’s unlawful detention. They said that due process of law must be followed in this case but despite 220 days, the NAB has produced not a single shred of evidence against him. They chanted slogans against the fascist PTI regime and condemned using NAB for media’s arm twisting. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil. The participants of the protest included Secretary General of Jang Workers Union Malik Farooq Awan, News Editor of Pakistan Times, Zaheer Anjum, Kashmiri leader Humayun Mirza, senior journalists Awais Qarni, Munawwar Hussain, Ms Ayesha Akram, Aziz Sheikh, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Rahat Dar and others.
Likewise in Peshawar, the protesters converged outside the offices of the Daily Jang, The News and Geo News. The Peshawar Press Club Chairman Syed Bukhar Shah led the protest being held daily to express anger at the incarceration. The protesters raised slogans against the detention and for the early release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The speakers were strongly critical of the PTI government for victimising the Jang Media Group and said the unprecedented long detention of Mir Shakil was a pressure tactic to strong arm the group’s editorial policies. The protesters crticised NAB for pressurising the independent media allegedly at the behest of the PTI government and failure to take action against the massive corruption scandals such as flour, sugar, Malam Jabba land, Billion Tree Tsunami and Bus Rapid Transit Project. Arshad Aziz Malik, Sabz Ali Shah, Ehtesham Toru, Famanullah Jan, Gulzar Khan, Amjad Safi and others spoke on the occasion.
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