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October 26, 2020

Protest against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention continues

Top Story

October 26, 2020

LAHORE: Journalists, civil society members, office bearers of media unions and trade union of the Jang Group continued protests against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of the country’s largest media group, Jang Group and Geo TV, on Sunday for the 204th consecutive day.

Mir Shakil has been detained for the last 226 days in NAB custody over a 35-year old property exchange matter without giving any proof of charges or making any progress in the investigations.

Staging a demonstration outside the Jang offices, the protesters criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for backing out on his 20-year claims to turning Pakistan into a Medina-like state, alleging that he used the slogan only to hoodwink the masses and win elections through media support. Imran Khan, they said, had been victimising Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of PTI regime, they said, lamenting that Mir Shakil was detained despite that no progress was made either in investigations into the corruption charges of the property exchange case nor any formal case was registered. The participants termed it a blatant attack on media freedom and a conspiracy to close down the country’s largest media group. They chanted slogans against the fascist PTI regime and condemned using NAB for media’s arm twisting.

They demanded the chief justice should take suo moto action against this gross injustice, which was a direct attack on the freedom of expression and liberty of media. They demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and threatened to launch an anti-government movement across the country if he was not released.

The participants in the protest included Secretary General Jang Workers Union Malik Farooq Awan, News Editor of Pakistan Times, Zaheer Anjum, civil society leader Yasin Mughal, senior journalists Awais Qarni, Shafiq Ahmad, Munawwar Hussain, Ms Ayesha Akram, Aziz Sheikh, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas and others. Zaheer Anjum termed the PTI government as the worst kind of fascist and authoritarian regime bent upon gagging the voice of media to prevent exposure of its own corruption and bad governance. He warned other owners of the media houses were the next target after Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was the first casualty in PTI government’s stifling media policy.

Awais Qarni said media cannot work for the truth without freedom, as it plays the role of watchdog for the country. He said such victimisations were forced by military dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf in the past, and now media workers were being victimised by Imran Khan about whom the whole world knew that he was selected in sham elections for carrying out specific policies and was now proving that he was not the representative of the masses.

Shafiq Ahmad said victimisation of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman must come to an end and he should be released as his arrest was a symbolic move to usurp media freedom. He said Jang Group always reported the truth.

Malik Farooq Awan said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a symbol of freedom of expression and this struggle is not only for his release but also for the freedom of media in future. He said the arrest of Mir Shakil was not only a conspiracy against the Geo and Jang Group but also first step to mute all the voices of the independent media.