KARACHI / LAHORE / MULTAN / RAWALPINDI / PESHAWAR: Geo News workers Jang and The News continued their two-month protest against the victimization of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who was undergoing unrelenting, unlawful arrests and unlawful arrests a larger government pattern puts Jang-Geo Group and other independent media houses under pressure because of its independent editorial policy.
Again on Tuesday, the group’s workers joined a group of civil society, political workers, the media fraternity and journalists, unions as an expression of solidarity for media houses that bravely faced ongoing difficulties.
Carrying placards bearing the demands, they raised slogans demanding freedom of the media, freedom of the press as constitutionally guaranteed, calling for an end to coercive measures against the Jang-Geo Group, unconditional release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and arrogant withdrawal the charges against him.
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 called his ongoing arrest without guarantee as a manifestation of the NAB-government nexus to keep the opposition and all different forces under control.
Pakistani President of the Federal Union Reporter Nasir Zaidi said that Editor-in-Chief Geo and Jang Group would be released through the struggle of journalists who regard it as a beacon for press freedom.
Chairperson of the Joint Action Committee of Geo-Jang Group workers and Trade Union President Jang Nasir Chishti said that the government under the pressure of the journalist brotherhood must bite dust like all previous regimes and release it and clean billions of rupees in arrears.
RIUJ Secretary General and Geo News senior correspondent Asif Ali Bhatti, Chief Reporter Jang Rana Ghulam Qadir, media workers Munir Shah, Malik Nusrat, Sultan Azhar and Kaleem Shahmim also spoke to the protesters.
In Karachi, the Jang-Geo Action Committee’s protest condemned strict restrictions on the Jang-Geo Group and demanded the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The group’s workers are joined by political party leaders, trade unionists and civil society activists.
Speaking to the demonstration, former Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker and Organization for the Restoration of Committee Chairperson Jamal Ahmed said that the prime minister, instead of focusing on and trying to fight the corona virus, was involved in a grudge against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and the media home because of the situation in the country it got worse.
Former MQM MPs and the MQM-P Organization Recovery Committee, (ORC-MQM-P) leader Kamran Farooqi say people are fed up with government policy and want to leave. He said that ORC head Dr Farooq Sattar had directed all party leaders and workers to stand with Jang-Geo Group employees in their campaign for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He appreciated Rahman’s patience and determination not to give in to the government unceasing pressure. Information secretary of the Pakistan Newspaper Confederation Employee Fawad Mehmood said that two months later, Editor-in-Chief Jang Geo was in prison and added that his services for journalism would always be remembered.
Others who spoke with the demonstration included APNEC secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga, secretary general of the Unity Press Javed Rana Yusuf, president of The News Union Saeed Muhiuddin Pasha and secretary general Dara Zafar.
In Peshawar, media workers Jang-Geo Group continued their protest to demand the release of their Chief Editor, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Carrying banners and placards bearing slogans in support of their demands, the protesters chanted slogans against the government and the National Accountability Bureau to sacrifice government competitors.
Speakers including Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah, Daily Editor Jang Arshad Aziz Malik, senior journalist Shakeel Farman Ali and Imdad Ali Qazalbash deplored that the Editor in Chief of the country’s largest media group was punished only for not following the government line. They pointed out that Mir Shakil was arrested even before the investigation process was complete and without references or cases. But instead, NAB and the government are not interested in investigating mega corruption fraud related to Bus Rapid Transit, Jabba Night, sugar and flour, etc. They say the authorities are trying to suppress the voices of independent journalists but will not be able to do it.
In Multan, group workers continued to be uneasy about the persecution from the Jang-Geo Group and Editor in Chief and demanded his release. As elsewhere, members of civil society, political workers, PML-N Youth Wing workers, lawyers, human rights activists and journalists visited the protest camps of Geo News workers, Jang Daily and The News and expressed solidarity with them.
Speaking on the occasion, PML-N Youth Wing vice president Rana Muhammad Zeeshan, while condemning the long and illegal detention of the Editor in Chief, said the government’s policy towards the Jang-Geo Group was very disruptive to the country’s free media and freedom of expression and thought rights guaranteed constitutionally, turning this period into the darkest chapters in the history of state oppression of free media.
Pakistan N-Muslim League Leader Usman Khan Babar said that government policy brought unrest in society. He demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
In Lahore, Jang, The News and Geo News workers along with representatives of civil society and political workers, businessmen continued their two-month protest. They promised to continue their struggle until Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was released and restrictions on free media were abandoned. Speaking to protesters outside Jang’s office and The News on Davis Road, Abdullah Malik, a civil society representative, said the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was an attack on freedom of expression and media freedom. That is a violation of human rights. Head of the Sialkot Geo News Agency, Umar Ijaz, Sh Adil from Sialkot, Rai Ayaz Akbar from Shorkot, Hasnain Raza from Shorkot, Muhammad Waqas also demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Zaheer Anjum said the government was trying to suppress the country’s free press. He demanded to release billions of rupees as arrears in Jang Group’s arrears. Director of the Jang Group, Shaheen Qureshi, Sher Ali Khalti, and others were also present at the protest camp.