Saturday Mar 28, 2020
KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: A cross-section of the country's top industrialists, traders, and economists have expressed serious concerns over the arrest of Jang-Geo Group's Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR) and demanded his release, reported The News on Saturday.
Talking to reporter Riaz Andy on Friday, top business leaders said that by arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who was present in the country and also had his wealth in the country, the National Accountability Bureau had set a new and unfortunate trend.
Demanding forthwith the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the industrialist-trader community said that the Jang-Geo Group had played a positive role during every crisis confronting the country, and was among the foremost opinion makers of the nation.
The business leaders added that the Jang Group played a pivotal role in the situations the country has confronted since independence. "Today, the country is facing a pandemic and the prime minister is meeting the journalist fraternity to create awareness about the pandemic," they said.
Talking to The News, Mian Zahid Husain, the President of Pakistan Businessman and Intellectual Forum, said that MSR's arrest by NAB on trumped-up corruption charges appeared to indicate an intent to muzzle the press.
"The business community had informed the prime minister and the Chief Justice of Pakistan that NAB's harassment was discouraging businessmen from investing in the country. At a time the economy is under pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is important not to rattle media organisations," he said.
Talking to Geo News, AQ Khalil, former president of the Secretary General Businessmen Group, said the coronavirus pandemic had rattled the entire world and its economy, including Pakistan. "At this point of time, Mir Shakil must be released to help the country ride out of this crisis like situation," he said.
"The role played by Jang-Geo Group and Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman during floods and earthquakes is memorable. His continued detention, in an old case based on hearsay, is not justified. If at all there is some substance in the case, the independent courts can convict and arrest him anytime," he added.
"He can face the courts while staying in Pakistan as his assets are also in the country and there is no reason for him to escape. If the government has any fear of that, MSR's name can be put under Exit Control List," he maintained.
Talking to Geo News, Shaikh Manzar Alam, ex-chairman of the Karachi Association of Trade and Industry, said that the Jang-Geo Group's Editor-in-Chief should be bailed out and the courts left to decide his fate which must be accepted by the government.
"His uncalled-for arrest and the issue being raised at the UN is only hurting the country's image. Already, the high courts have questioned and expressed serious concerns over NAB's unlawful practices and released most of those detained by the anti graft body," he noted.
In addition to traders, top businessmen of the country have also demanded that the government end the harassment of the Editor-in-Chief Jang-Geo Group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, and provide him the opportunity of a fair trial.
While talking to The News on Thursday, the President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI), Muhammad Ahmed, said that he would term the arrest of Mir Shakil a part of harassment since MSR was arrested at the verification stage of an inquiry.
"When he had appeared before the NAB investigators, it was a violation of NAB's own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that such a person be arrested without completion of the due process," he said.
"If anyone, including businessmen, have committed any wrongdoing, he or she should be arrested once the investigation is completed. We do not support any such move wherein arrests are made before completion of due process in a case," he stressed.
In his reaction to the arrest, the President of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Saboor Malik, said that the chamber would not support the arrest of any businessmen at the initial stage of inquiries. He said that when the SOP had already been finalized, NAB should have followed the agreed mechanism.
Renowned economic experts and representatives of various chambers of commerce also expressed grave concern over the arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, terming the arrest an attack on the free press and sheer injustice.
Originally published in The News