Monday Jul 06, 2020
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar and Quetta bar associations on Monday joined the apex Pakistan Bar council’s demand for an immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, branding the prolonged detention of Geo and Jang group Editor-in-Chief as an attack on media freedom.
The newly elected president of the PHCBA, Khalid Anwar Afridi, has said that MSR, is being victimized for reporting the truth and raising his voice for justice and that was not acceptable to the rulers, which is reprehensible.
“Arrest and targeting the editor-in-chief of Jang/Geo Group is not an attack against a person but an attack against the people’s right to know,” a statement by Afridi issued on Monday said.
Afridi said the PHC Bar wholeheartedly endorsed the Pakistan Bar Council’s statement and was glad that legal support was now also being provided to MSR by the bar itself.
“We are confident that the courts will do justice because the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is illegal and unconstitutional in a private property case,” he said.
Afridi continued, “For the first time, a senior and prominent journalist was arrested in a 34 years old case on an allegation based on speculation,” he said, reiterating the commitment that the PHC Bar is with MSR for speedy justice and is standing side-by-side with the journalist community.
He appealed to the chief justice of the Lahore High Court to take notice of the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been under detention for the last 114 days.
The Quetta Bar Association President Asif Reki also condemned the detention of Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Geo Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and termed it as absolute high-handedness and sheer cruelty.
In a statement issued Monday, Reki said the case about the property transaction dating back to 1986 against MSR was a mala fide act.
He said that it was also against the basic laws and constitution to retain the veteran journalist in judicial remand for over 100 days and that the apex court should take notice of it.
Reki emphasised that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was a prominent personality of the country and his unjustified detention shows the impression of the government’s revengeful act against him.
He said that it would be unfair to keep MSR in further detention and demanded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and other concerned institutions to raise voice for his immediate release.
Similarly, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Balochistan Bar Council (BBC), Advocate Rahib Khan Buledi also strongly condemned what he called “illegal” detention of MSR by NAB.
In a separate statement issued here, Buledi said NAB could not prove anything against MSR despite the lapse of considerable time.
He went on to say that the government wants to suppress and gag the largest media group of the country through vindictive acts.
Buledi added that Jang and Geo have played a key role in the restoration of an independent judiciary and strengthening democracy in the country maintaining the norms of independent and impartial journalism.
He demanded of the concerned authorities to withdraw the case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and ensure his immediate release.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) during a meeting of its Executive Committee had expressed serious concern over the March 12 arrest and detention of MSR by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
In a press release issued Sunday, the PBC termed MSR's arrest "a mala fide act".
"The Committee, on the motion of Mr Akhtar Hussain, expressed its serious concerns over unjustified arrest and detention of Editor in Chief of Jang/Geo Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman by NAB and termed his arrest in a criminal matter pertaining to year 1986 a mala fide act," the statement said.
"The Committee also requested its Members Mr Abid Saqi, Syed Qalb-i-Hassan and Mr Tahir Nasrullah Warraich to attend future hearing of the case, as requested by many senior journalists, in order to show solidarity with the journalist community," it added.
Saqi is the PBC's vice chairperson, whereas Hasan and Warraich are the presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), respectively.
A Jang/Geo Media Group spokesperson had earlier explained that MSR's appearance before the NAB on the day of his arrest was in a relation to a call-up notice for the verification of the complaint but he was instead detained.
In doing so, a violation of the Islamabad High Court's recent judgment against NAB and a violation of NAB's own rules has been committed, the spokesperson had said.