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October 25, 2020

Protest against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention continues

Top Story

October 25, 2020

By Bureau report

LAHORE/PESHAWAR/MUL-TAN: Journalists, civil society members, office bearers of media unions and trade union of Jang Group continued protests against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of country’s largest media group, Jang Group and Geo TV, on Saturday for the 203rd consecutive day.

Mir Shakil has been detained for the last 225 days under NAB custody over a 35-years old property exchange matter without giving any proof of charges or making any progress in the investigations.

Staging demonstration outside the Jang offices, the protesters criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for backing out on his 20-years claims to turn Pakistan into a Medina-like state, alleging that he used the slogan only to hoodwink masses and win elections through media support. Imran Khan, they said, had been victimising Mir Shakil-ur Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of PTI regime, they said, lamenting that Mir Shakil was detained despite that no progress was made either in investigations into the corruption charges of 35 years old property exchange case nor any formal case was registered.

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

The participants in the protest included Secretary General Jang works union Malik Farooq Awan, News Editor of Pakistan Times, Zaheer Anjum, Secretary Punjab Assembly Press Gallery Shahzad Malik, Secretary Lahore Press Club Zulfiqar Mehto, senior journalists Awais Qarni, Munawwar Hussain, Ms Ayesha Akram, Aziz Sheikh, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Ali, Zahid Mehmood, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Masood Ahmad and others.

Zaheer Anjum termed PTI government as 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 other owners of the media houses were the next target after Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman was the first casualty in PTI government’s stifling media policy.

Zulfiqar Mehto said that media could not work for the truth without freedom, as it played the role of watchdog for the society and country. He said the whole world knew the truth that Imran Khan was selected in sham elections and was now proving that he was not the representative of the masses and democracy.

Shahzad Malik said that 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 Jang Group always reported the truth.

Malik 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 future. Sher Ali Khalti said the arrest of Mir Shakil was not only a conspiracy against the Geo and Jang Group but also first step to mute all the voices of the independent media. Meanwhile the members of the journalist community on Saturday demanded the release of the Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as they continued the protest against his arrest on Saturday in Peshawar.

Carrying banners and placards, the protesters gathered outside the offices of the Daily Jang, The News and Geo TV to express their anger at the arrest. They chanted slogans against the incarceration of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his release without any delay. Arshad Aziz Malik, Nisar Mahmood, Qaisar Khan, Shakeel Farman Ali, Sabz Ali Shah, Farmanullah Jan, Amjad Safi, Ehtesham Toru, Gulzar Khan and others spoke on the occasion.

They flayed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for targeting the Jang Media Group and its chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to pressure them. The speakers deplored that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been behind bars for the last 227 days on cooked-up charges in an old case.

The speakers were critical of the NAB for remaining silent on the massive corruption scandals such as wheat flour, sugar, Malam Jabba land, Billion Tree Tsunami and Bus Rapid Transit Project because the PTI members were allegedly involved in these practices.

They implored the apex court to take notice of the case and provide justice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who had been languishing in jail since March 12 of this year.

Meanwhile in Multan, activists of the PPP, journalists and civil society members on Saturday staged a demonstration on Nusrat Road against the arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release.

The PPP activists, led by South Punjab Secretary General Sima Amir Khan and others, criticised the government for arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They alleged that the government was using the NAB as a tool against the Jang Group to prevent its digital and print instruments and publications. She said that the press and media situation in Pakistan had been deteriorating since the present regime had taken over public offices. She said that the present situation was against the Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, which allows every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

She said that the cases had been registered against journalists and arrests were being made to create an atmosphere of fear. She predicted that the government would adopt measures imposing curbs on social media through new regulations. She along with the other protesters demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.