LAHORE: Protests by journalists, members of civil society, officials of the media union and the Jang Group trade union against the arrest of Jang Group / Geo TV Chief Editor Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued for 191 consecutive days on Monday.
Mir Shakil-ur-Rahamn has been under NAB’s watch for the past 213 days over a 35-year-old property swap issue without evidence of indictment or making any progress in the investigation. Staging a demonstration outside Jang’s office, the protesters criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking action to reverse his 20-year high claim to turn Pakistan into a country like Medina. They accuse Imran of using the slogan only to woo media support to win elections and come to power. They said Imran had victimized Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI regime. They regretted that although Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been detained, there was no progress in the investigation and no official cases had been registered. Participants called it a blatant attack on media freedom and a conspiracy to shut down the country’s largest media group. They shouted slogans against the PTI regime and condemned the illegal NAB anti-Media tactics.
They demand that Pakistan’s presiding judge must take suo motu from this grave injustice which is a direct attack on freedom of expression and the media. They demanded Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s immediate release and threatened to launch an anti-government movement across the country if he was not released.
The protesters included Secretary General of the Workers Union Jang Malik Farooq Awan, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, PPP leader Agha Abbas Kazmi, senior journalist Awais Qarni, Muhammad Shafiq, Munawwar Hussain, Ms Ayesha Akram, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Shahzad Rauf, Zahid Mehmood, Masood Ahmad and others.
On this occasion, Zaheer Anjum called the PTI government the worst fascist and authoritarian regime that tends to silence media voices to prevent the disclosure of corruption and bad governance. He is worried that other media owners will be the next target after Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has become the first victim of a media policy that has choked the PTI government. He said that strangling the entire media would be an easy target for the PTI government when the top media houses would be badly closed or scaled down. He said media owners must realize that if they don’t empower workers and professional journalists, their own power will be severely limited and they will fall easy prey to the ruling elite.
Awais Qarni said media cannot work for truth without freedom. He noted that dictators such as General Ayub Khan, General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf used to carry out such victimization and then media workers were victimized by Imran Khan to curb the media. He said the whole world knew the truth that Imran was elected in a ‘sham’ election and later proved he was not a representative of the masses.
Agha Abbas Kazmi said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s victimization must end and he must be released because his arrest was a symbolic move to seize media freedom. He said the government was busy curbing media voices and victimizing media owners instead of providing help to the public from the economic crisis. He said Jang Group always reports the truth.
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