KARACHI / RAWALPINDI / PESHAWAR: Jang-Geo Group workers along with journalist organizations, civil society and political workers continued their protest on Tuesday against the illegal arrest of their Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who was detained for the past 68 days at no charge anything in a 34 year old personal business transaction.
Protests across the country by Jang-Geo Group workers against cruel curbing, intimidation and suppression of the independent editorial policy of the Jang-Geo group continued and they shouted slogans for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Addressing protests outside the Jang and The News offices on Murree Road in Rawalpindi, the speakers called for the release of the Chief Editor and vowed to continue their protest until his release was unconditional and honorable.
Secretary General of the Pakistan Federal Journalists Association, Nasir Zaidi, said the country’s image was tarnished when journalists and teachers were widely arrested. “What kind of image of Pakistan is presented in front of the international community,” he asked. He said in the past, dictators took a crackdown on the free press by arresting reporters and editors to mute voices but they failed. “We are determined to continue our struggle to release Editor-in-Chief Jang-Geo Group,” he said.
Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said workers from the Jang-Geo Group are not afraid of those who throw bullets into their protest camps and will continue their struggle for a free press and the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Magazine Editor Jang Rawalpindi Farooq Aqdas said the Editor in Chief was a brave man who had refused to bow before illegal charges. Chairperson of the Joint Action Committee and Trade Union President Jang Nasir Chisti said the group workers were united to free their Editor-in-Chief who always stood with his workers. RIUJ’s secretary general and senior Geo News correspondent Asif Ali Bhatti said we would not divert agitation towards independent press freedom and Rahman’s illegal arrest. “We will achieve media freedom and the release of the Chief Editor with our peaceful struggle,” he said.
PML-N worker Obaid Abbassi said the arrest of Mir Shakil-Ur-Rahman had proved for another time that the NAB nexus was merely an arm of the government to bring opposition and a free press under pressure. He demanded his immediate release. Jang Group workers Munir Shah, Amjad Abbassi and Malik Nusrat also demanded the release of the Chief Editor who carried out undue persecution.
In Karachi, speaking to protests over the release of Jang-Geo Group Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in Karachi, Sindh People’s Party vice president Amanullah Mehsud said he was convicted of upholding his honest editorial policies.
Condemning the National Accountability Bureau’s submission to the wishes of the federal government, he said that the anti-corruption watchdog had reduced itself as a government arm used to harass, victimize and blackmail politicians, doctors and journalists. He said, instead of fixing the problem of media workers on the streets for more than two months demanding the release of the chief editor and removing restrictions on independent workers, the government began to threaten them.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policies and his revenge against the Jang-Geo Group had placed him on the list of the worst prime ministers in history. He said he was rather holding his cabinet members accountable for causing the wheat and sugar crisis, Khan only after his revenge campaign.
Incharge People’s Secretariat Farid Ansari said that the prime minister had failed in all matters, be it Kashmir or internal policy. He added that Jang-Geo Group will never bow to government pressure because various governments in the past have also tried but failed to do so miserably. Secretary of the Confederation of Employees of Pakistan’s Newspaper Shakil Yamin Kanga condemned the widespread threat to media workers protesting in Rawalpindi by sending them bullets with warnings to stop the campaign and ask the Pakistani court chief to pay attention. He warned that he would hold the government accountable if any losses came to Jang-Geo Group workers protesting the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Others who spoke at the demonstration included APNEC information secretary Fawad Mehmud, United Union Press secretary general Javed Rana Yusuf, president of The News Union Saeed Muhiuddin Pasha and secretary general Dara Zafar.
Likewise in Peshawar, Jang-Geo Group workers continued protests against the prolonged arrest of their Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The protesters carried banners and placards bearing slogans in support of their demands. They urged the government to free Mir Shakil and withdraw all cases institutionalized to him. The protesters criticized the Pakistani government Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to become victims of political opponents and independent media. They chanted slogans against the government-NAB nexus, saying it was unacceptable to them.
Protesters recalled that editor-in-chief Jang-Geo Group represented the country’s largest media group but has been behind bars for the past 68 days without proving mistakes or bringing any references or cases against him.
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