Wednesday Mar 25, 2020
President Balochistan National Party- Mengal (BNP-M) Akhtar Mengal slammed the arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Jang and Geo Group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded that he be released immediately, in a video message on Wednesday.
The BNP-M is not the only coalition partner of the PTI-led government that has openly criticised the arrest. The MQM-P has also been vocal against the arrest of MSR and the muzzling of the media.
MSR was arrested on March 12 by NAB in a case concerning a property transaction that dates back to 1986.
“Unfortunately, in our country anyone who has taken charge of the government has muzzled the voice of the media, may it be the previous or the incumbent government,” Mengal said.
“The sort of curbs being placed on media by the current government resemble those of dictatorial times,” said the BNP-M leader.
“They should learn from history, so that they don’t end up regretting their decisions like the previous rulers did,” he said, urging the government to immediately release MSR along with other political leaders who are in solitary confinement and torture cells.
“The rulers should be able to bear and withstand ciriticism just like they welcome praise,” he said, adding: “ I have condemned MSR’s arrests since day one.”
“Media has played a crucial role in strengthening democratic institutions. Free media has always acted as a medium between masses and government. Government’s policies and public opinions may be positive or negative but free media has always played its role,” he added.
Barrister Amal Clooney’s law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, has filed a complaint at the United Nations (UN) against the "politically-motivated and arbitrary arrest" of MSR by the NAB.
The firm, known for its work on international human rights issues, announced on Monday that an urgent appeal has been lodged on MSR's behalf with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and a second appeal made to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
Doughty Street Chambers confirmed that these urgent appeals call on the UN experts to act and ensure that the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government and NAB comply with their obligations under international law and that MSR be released immediately.
“Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested on March 12 by NAB in Pakistan in a case concerning a property transaction that dates back 34 years to 1986. He has been imprisoned since, in unsafe and unhygienic conditions and without meaningful and regular access to his lawyers. Jang Media Group owns Geo TV as well as some of Pakistan’s largest newspapers,” said the firm.
It noted that MSR's arrest and detention comes following many attacks upon and targeting of him, Jang Media Group and its journalists, by Imran Khan’s government and NAB and amid a deteriorating climate for media freedom in Pakistan.