RAWALPINDI: The countrywide protest by the workers of Geo/Jang Group along with the Pakistan Federal Unions of Journalists, representatives of the civil society, lawyers and workers of the political parties against the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued for last 97 days on Thursday.
The protesters vowed to resist all the conspiracies against the Geo and Jang Group and stood united for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been under arrest for last 97 days without any charge.
The protesters chanted slogans for MSR’s release and condemned curbs on the freedom of media and also condemned the conspiracies to close down the Geo and Jang Group.
Addressing the protest outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi, the speakers called for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Secretary-General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Nasir Zaidi, said that the struggle of the journalists and workers of the Geo and Jang Group is based on the principles of freedom of media. He said despite all odds and pressure, the workers of Geo and Jang Group stood united for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Editor Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said despite all the pressure, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman refused to bow before illegal demands and stood firm on his principles for freedom of media. Chairman Joint Action Committee of Workers of Geo and Jang Group and President Jang Workers Unions Rawalpindi, Nasir Chisti, said the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has exposed the government’s intention to suppress the voice of freedom of media.
He said the workers of Geo and Jang group along with journalist organisations will continue their struggle till his release. Member Editorial Committee of Jang Rawalpindi, Abbas Alam, said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a symbol of truth for the workers of the Geo and Jang group.
Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi, Ran Ghulam Qadir, said those who conspire to arrest Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will face humiliation as they have failed in their motives. He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been facing jail despite his poor health.
Secretary-General RIUJ and senior correspondent of Geo News, Asif Ali Bhatti, said the rulers have shown their intentions against the media by arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman without any charge.
He said those who conspired against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman have failed in their motives as the journalist community of the country and workers of Geo and Jang group stood united with him.
Imtiaz Taji of PML-N said the rules have to give answers to the people of Pakistan for the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Workers of Jang group Munir Shah, Muzzafar Bhatti, Ghulam Jaffar and Malik Nusrat said all the workers of Geo and Jang Group stood firm as a wall with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
In Lahore, senior journalists, civil society leaders, office-bearers of media unions and trade union of Jang Group have continued condemning what they called NAB-Niazi connivance under which they arrested Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a politically-motivated case for the last 99 days.
They demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and warned that direct action could be taken against the PTI government to deter it from dictatorial policies to curb freedom of expression and force economic murder of media workers. They threatened to launch an anti-government movement against the government across the country if he is not released.
Those who participated in the protest camp included PPP leader Iftikhar Shahid advocate, Shahida Jabeen, Waheed Alamgir, Secretary-General of Jang Workers Union Farooq Malik, senior journalist and News Editor of Pakistan Times, Zaheer Anjum, Maqsood Butt, Amir Taimur Malik, Awais Qarni, Khizar Hayat Gondal, Amjad Farooq Kallu, Sohail Iqbal, Aziz Sheikh, Shahid Aziz, Munawwar Hussain, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Wajed and others.
Farooq Malik said Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief 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 warned that this campaign would continue against the puppet rulers even after his release since it is a conspiracy against journalists and the freedom of expression. He said everybody in the country who struggled for the freedom of expression is Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He warned if Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not released immediately, journalists would stage protests outside the National Assembly, the Punjab Assembly and in all major cities in the country. He said journalists would continue to struggle against the government for the sake of freedom of expression like Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had not bowed down or made a compromise with the rules so far.
In Multan, Jang, Geo, and The News workers along with traders and civil society activists staged a demonstration against the illegal detention of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release.
They termed the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman a conspiracy against the Jang/Geo Group by the government. The journalists and civil society activists criticised the National Accountability Bureau for being biased. They said that the press and media situation in the country had been deteriorating since the present regime had taken over the public offices.
In Peshawar, the journalists on Thursday continued the protest against the arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and termed this detention as anti-democratic move and a bid to gag the press in the country.
Carrying banner and placards, the members of Khyber Union of Journalists and Peshawar Press Club gathered outside the office of the Jang, Geo and The News. They chanted slogans against the government and National Accountability Bureau for implicating Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a fake case. “The government wants to silence all dissenting voices to hide its own failure,” said Imran Yousafzai, the general secretary of the Peshawar Press Club.
Arshad Aziz Malik, Resident Editor of Daily Jang, said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was being punished for highlighting the truth. He said such steps were earning a bad name for the country.
In Karachi, a senior politician and Pakistan People’s Party leader Iqbal Yusuf said on Thursday that the unlawful and unduly long detention of Jang/Geo Group’s Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was a flagrant violation of the law and the constitution.
Speaking to the protest demonstration under the auspices of the Jang Geo Action Committee in Karachi which is going on for the past 97 days, Yusuf said that Mir Shakil has achieved the world record as being the editor long incarcerated for his fair and independent editorial policies. He said the federal government’s policies had put the public in extreme economic and social hardships and its ministers were involved in fake sugar and wheat crisis, but against them, NAB or any other law enforcement action has not been taken.
The PPP leader said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was waging a vengeful campaign against political rivals and independent media to satisfy his ego. He said that the coronavirus was on the loose but the government was concerned with victimization its rivals.
He said that the PPP will continue to support the Jang-Geo Group employees’ campaign until the honourable release of Rahman. He asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of this attack on the fourth pillar of the state.