RAWALPINDI / LAHORE / PESHAWAR: Demonstrations of journalists and Geo-Jang Group workers against the illegal detention of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued in Rawalpindi on Friday.
The journalists are determined for media freedom and hope to get justice from Pakistan’s Supreme Court for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Demonstrations of journalists and workers from Geo and Jang Group against the illegal and unfair arrests of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman were followed by journalist organizations, representatives of civil society and political workers and have continued for the past 203 days. Protesters at the protest camp outside Jang and The News office in Rawalpindi chanted slogans for Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s release.
Responding to the protest camp, Chairman of the Joint Action Committee of Geo-Jang Islamabad workers and Jang Rawalpindi Labor Union President Nasir Chisti said the determination of the journalists and workers of Geo and Jang showed that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman would be released soon.
Resident editor Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had never compromised his principled stance on media freedom in the country.
RIUJ Secretary General and Geo News Islamabad senior correspondent Asif Ali Bhatti said the journalists and workers of the Geo-Jang Group were not only fighting for Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s release but also for media freedom in the country.
Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has now become the voice of the media because of his principled stand for media freedom.
Jang Group employees Amjad Abbassi, Malik Nusrat, Naseerul Haq, Abbas Alam, Munir Shah, Kamal Shah, Rahat Munir, Khalid Mehmood, Azhar Sultan, Aslam Butt, Athar Naqvi, Zulfiqar Ali Khan and others also spoke at the occasion.
In Lahore, journalists, members of civil society, media union officials and the Jang Workers’ Union continued to protest against the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who was detained for the past 203 days.
Holding demonstrations outside Jang’s Office Friday at the protest camp for 181 consecutive days, they criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking a U-turn on his over 20 years high claim to turn Pakistan into a country like Medina, alleging that he used the slogan. only to seduce media support for power. But they said that Imran had actually persecuted Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for exposing the corruption and bad governance of the PTI regime.
They regretted that the chief editor was detained even though no progress was made either in the investigation into the corruption allegation in the 34 year old property swap issue or a registered formal case. The protesters have called it a blatant attack on media freedom and a conspiracy to shut down the country’s largest media group. They chanted slogans against the fascist government and condemned the anti-media tactics of the NAB.
They demanded the chief judge take suo motu notice against this grave injustice which is a direct attack on freedom of expression and media freedom. 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.
Secretary General of the Workers Union Jang Malik Farooq Awan, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, senior journalists Muhammad Shafiq, Awais Qarni, Ayesha Akram, Aziz Sheikh, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ali, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, Mushtaq and Zahid Mehmood was prominent among the protesters.
Zaheer Anjum called the PTI government the worst kind of fascist and authoritarian regime bent on silencing media voices to prevent corruption and bad governance from being exposed. He warned other media owners were the next target after Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He said strangling the entire media would be easy targets for the government and the establishment of PTI when high-ranking media houses would be closed down or badly scaled down. He said media house owners must realize that if they don’t empower workers and professional journalists, their own power will be seriously curtailed, and they will fall easy prey to the ruling and ruling elite.
Muhammad Shafiq said the media cannot work for truth without freedom, because the media play a watchdog role for society and the state. He noted that such sacrifices were imposed by dictators such as General Ayub Khan, General Zia, General Pervez Musharraf, in the past, and now media workers were victims of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was chosen by the government to curb the media. He said the whole world knows the truth that Imran was elected in a sham election and is now proving he is not a representative of the masses.
In Peshawar, media workers on Friday continued protests against the arrest of Jang / Geo Group Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and renewed requests for his immediate release.
They gathered outside the offices of Daily Jang, The News and Geo TV to protest against the government’s retaliation against Jang Media Group and the arrest of its head. Protesters hold banners and placards. They raised slogans against the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and supported media freedom. The president of the Peshawar Press Club, Syed Bukhar Shah, led the protest. Syed Bukhar Shah, Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali, Sabz Ali Shah, Ihtesham Toru, Qaiser Khan, Amjad Safi, Rasool Dawar, Rizwan Sheikh Sardar Imdad Ali Qazalbash, and others spoke at the occasion. They criticized the PTI government for arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on dubious charges in an attempt to pressure the Jang Media Group which is notorious for promoting independent journalism in the country. Speakers regretted that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested on March 12 and has remained behind bars for the past 205 days.
They said the PTI government was pursuing an anti-media policy and the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was meant to choke free media.
Speakers criticized the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for pursuing only opposition politicians and independent media. They pointed out that NAB is reluctant to move against members of the ruling party who are suspected of being involved in corruption scandals. The speakers asked why the so-called anti-corruption agencies failed to pay attention to mega scandals such as wheat flour, the sugar crisis, the land of Malam Jabba, Tsunami Billion Trees and Bus Rapid Transit. They appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court to intervene in the case and give justice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who has been detained for more than six months.
In Bahawalpur, the Bahawalpur Journalists’ Union and members of the press club on Friday staged a demonstration against the arrest of Jang / Geo Group Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The protest rallies were led by former Vice President of the Pakistan Federal Journalists Union and FEC members Muhammad Ameen Abbasi, Rasheed Hashmi and Asif Kabeer. Protesting journalists chanted slogans against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest and demanded his immediate release. They called Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest an attack on press freedom.