Thursday October 21, 2021

Protest against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention goes on

November 02, 2020

LAHORE: 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 Sunday on the 211th consecutive day. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been detained for the last 233 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 a demonstration outside the Jang offices, the protesters criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for backing out on his 20-year claims to turn Pakistan into a Madinah-like state, alleging that he used the slogan only to hoodwink the masses and win elections through media support. Imran Khan, they said, had been victimizing Mir Shakil-ur Rehman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of PTI regime, lamenting that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman 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.

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 it for using NAB for media’s arm twisting.

They demanded the Chief Justice should take suo motu 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 Rehman 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, civil society leader Abdullah Malik, senior journalists Awais Qarni, Shafiq Ahmad, Munawwar Hussain, Ms Ayesha Akram, Romeo Jalib, Aziz Sheikh, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Zahid Mehmood, Shahzad Rauf, 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 Shakilur Rehman was the first casualty in PTI government’s stifling media policy. He said choking the entire media would become an easy target after 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 easy prey for the establishment and the ruling elite.

Abdullah Malik said media cannot work for the truth without freedom, as it played the role of watchdog for the country. He said such victimizations were forced by military dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf in the past, and now media workers were being victimized by Imran Khan about whom the whole world knew that he was selected in sham elections for carrying out specific policies and was now proving that he was not the representative of the masses.

Shafiq Ahmad said victimization 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. Already the the arrest was leading towards the crumbling of other media houses and closure of noted news channels and newpapers, and retrenchment of workers in others recently. He said the government instead of providing relief to the people from economic crunch, was busy in curbing the voice of media and victimizing the media owners. He said Jang Group always reported the truth.

Malik Farooq Awan said Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman 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. He said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not only a conspiracy against the Geo and Jang Group but also first step to mute all the voices of the independent media.