Protests against Mir Sahkil-ur-Rehman's arrest enters 63rd day

Protesters chanted slogans for release of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group and condemned curbs on media freedom

Web Desk

RAWALPINDI: Geo, Jang and The News employees along with representatives of civil society and political workers continued their countrywide protest on Thursday against the illegal arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and pledged that the protest will continue till Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman wasn't released.

Protesters chanted slogans for the release of the Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group MSR and condemned the curbs on the freedom of media.

Addressing protesters outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi on Thursday, speakers at protest camp called for MSR's release and slammed NAB laws that were enacted for political engineering.

Addressing the protestors, Chairman Editorial Committee of Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said everyone knows who was behind the illegal arrest of MSR. He said Geo and Jang Group since the last 73 years has been rendering its services for the progress and prosperity of the country and will continue to serve the homeland.

Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said the arrest of the Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group was a clear violation of the human rights and Constitution of Pakistan. He said the message has been conveyed with the arrest of MSR that whoever will present the real face of the rulers to the people of Pakistan will be sent to jail.

Chairman Joint Action Committee of the workers of Geo and Jang Group and President Jang Workers Union Nasir Chishti said Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group always stood with the journalists and media workers for the cause of freedom of media and never compromised on principles.

He said the journalists and media workers gathered here for the great cause of freedom of media and for the release of MSR, who was targeted only because he refused to give up on the principle of the freedom of media.

Secretary-General RIUJ and senior correspondent of Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is being punished to raise the voice for the supremacy of the constitution, Parliament, and rule of law. He said this protest was not only for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman but also for the freedom of the press as well for the struggle for the media workers who are facing a financial crisis due to government policies towards the media.

Senior Sports Correspondent of Jang Shakil Awan said the journalists of the country did not accept the NAB-Niazi nexus. A media worker of Jang Group, Munir Shah said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman emerged as a hope for all those who believe in the freedom of the press.

Media workers of Jang Group Amjad Ali Abbasi said the morale of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is still high despite him being held 63 days captive.

Incharge Cultural Wing of PML-N, Ms Samina Abbasi said Geo and Jang Group and Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Shakil-ur-Rahman is a golden chapter of Pakistan's history.

She said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and his father Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman dedicated their lives for Pakistan. She said Geo and Jang Group always stood with the democracy and democratic forces in the country.

In Lahore, a large number of journalists, media workers, members of civil society and people from different walks of life continued their protest against the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

The protesters gathered at the protest camp in front of Jang offices on Davis Road and shouted slogans against those at the helm of affairs on their anti-media and anti-media workers policies.

Besides journalists and workers from Geo, The News, Jang and Awaz newspapers, those who attended the protest and spoke on the occasion included Jang Group Editor Shaheen Qureshi, Geo Lahore Bureau chief Raees Ansari, Abdullah Malik, Zaheer Anjum, Muhammad Ali and Afzal Abbas.

Terming the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman an attempt to muzzle independent news reporting, they said media in Pakistan had always been targeted in one way or the other. However, this time media was being targeted from multiple fronts including attempts to push the same towards financial crisis; they said and vowed to continue their struggle for an independent and free press in Pakistan.

They condemned the government for withholding Rs6 billion pending payments of different media houses saying the same was adding to financial worries of media workers who were already perturbed owing to inflation. They further said media workers across the country would speed up their struggle after Eid. They also said the journalist community did not comprise on media freedom during dictatorial regimes and would not let the incumbent regime snatch the right of journalists for bringing truth to the masses.

The protesters further said Mir Shakeel-ur-Rahman has been incarcerated for the last 63 days in a politically-motivated case pertaining to years-old fake property case which was totally unlawful and he should be immediately released.

Meanwhile, in Multan, the District Clerks Bar Association office-bearers have condemned the arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release.

A delegation of the District Bar Clerks Association on Thursday visited the protest camp of Jang, Geo and The News workers set up against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

The District Bar Clerks Association office-bearers Haji Amin Sajid, Mian Tufail Qureshi, Rana Mushtaq Jamil, Hassan Mushtaq, Ali Aslam, Syed Asif Shah, Kashif Shah, Dilshad Qureshi, Allah Yar and Jehanzeb expressed solidarity with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

They said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest was followed by the disruption of Geo transmission within the minutes of a press conference by the then Special Assistant to Prime Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, who, on one hand, tried to distance her government from the arrest and on the other, accused Geo and Jang of being biased against the government.

In Peshawar, the media workers from the Jang/Geo Group continued the protest against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters urged the government to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman forthwith and withdraw cases against him. They chanted slogans against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which, they said, had become a tool in the hands of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

Instead of arresting and holding accountability of the corrupt people involved in the mega corruption scandals, they said, the NAB and government had implicated Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a false property case, which had already been decided 34 years back. The speakers including Daily Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik, senior journalist, Shakeel Farman Ali and others condemned the government for arresting Mir Shakil and putting thousands of workers of the major media group in a difficult situation.

They said the journalists had never been subjugated even by the military dictators in the past, adding and the sitting rulers were mistaken if they thought they could silence the media. The protesters said the Jang Group would continue to highlight the truth and expand the protest movement if their demands were not met.