Saturday Jul 04, 2020
PESHAWAR: The workers of Jang/Geo Group continued their protest against the arrest of editor-in-chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on Friday.
Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans, the protesters demanded the immediate release of MSR and withdrawal of the case against him.
The protesters chanted slogans against the government and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for implicating MSR in a 34-year-old property case for not towing the government line.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Farid Toofan visited the protest camp to extend solidarity to Jang Group workers and pledged support to them.
Paying rich tributes to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and his family for highlighting the problems of the common people, Toofan said the government would not be able to pressure the media of the country through such tactics.
He added that his party stood by the Jang Group and would continue to support it until MSR’s release. He added that the detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was unjust, saying he had committed no wrongdoing.
Coming down hard on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government for trying to keep the media and journalists in chains, he said it would ruin the system and that was not acceptable to them.
By raising voice against the injustices of the government, Toofan said MSR has established history, saying the government could not pressure the Jang Group. He added that the government was trying to suppress the voice of the independent media to hide its corruption scandals.
He appealed to the chief justice of the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the injustice being meted out to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and the Jang Group.
MSR was arrested by NAB on March 12 on trumped-up charges relating to property purchased more than three decades ago. A petition was filed shortly afterwards against the arrest.
An accountability court had then extended his physical remand, after which a separate petition was filed against the extension. The petition had argued that no reason was provided by the court for the extension in remand.
The original petition, filed by MSR’s wife Shahina Shakil, had stated that MSR had been cooperating with officials and the arrest was a flagrant violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the accountability watchdog.
The petition had requested that the court declare the arrest and abuse of the NAB chairman's authority, as the arrest was made while the case was still in the process of verification.
The petition further argued that NAB had violated the 2019 businessmen policy introduced by the Government of Pakistan by arresting MSR. It further said that the extension in remand of MSR by the accountability court hearing the case should be declared null and void, along with the decision to arrest him.
According to a Jang Group spokesperson, the property was in fact bought from a private party 34 years ago and all evidence of this was given to NAB and legal requirements fulfilled, such as duty and taxes.
MSR's arrest has been slammed both locally and internationally as an attempt by a heavy-handed regime to suppress dissent and the freedom of speech.