Arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman: Jang-Geo Group workers continue protest

ISLAMABAD: The workers of Geo, Jang and The News on the call of the Joint Action Committee of the media workers continued their countrywide protest on Friday against the arrest of Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

In Islamabad, the protest of Jang, Geo and The News workers was also participated by journalists from other media groups, political leaders, representatives of the civil society, human rights activists, labour unions and different segment of the society. Addressing the protest camp in Islamabad, Naib Amir JI Mian Muhammad

Aslam said the arrest of the Editor-in-Chief is is a clear example of victimisation. He said the rulers in last 72 years came into power always afraid of free media as when media pointed out their mistakes and blunders they started efforts to restrict the media. “They did not like the criticism and when the Jang Group presented the truth before the nation then rulers started to threaten the media,” he said.

Mian Aslam said the government has attacked the freedom of media with arresting Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as the Jang and Geo Group is a largest media house and it is victimised by the NAB.

Secretary General PFUJ Nasir Zaidi said that free media was representing the democracy in the country, but the rulker did not like the freedom of press.

Ex-chairman PFUJ Afzal Butt said the movement has just started and it is achieving success as Pemra has started restoring the Geo on its original position. Chairman Joint Action Committee Nasir Chishti said the workers have launched movement for the freedom of media during the dictatorships either it be military of civilian for the freedom of media. “When Ziaul Haq failed to stop us then how could they stop us to get our right,” he said.

He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will be released soon as the workers of the Geo and Jang Group stand with their Editor-in-Chief.

Senior Reporter of Jang Rana Ghulam Qadir said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is economic murder of 8,000 families. “You are not paying Rs3 billion dues to the media which is like economic murder of the media workers,” he said.

Senior Reporter of Jang Farooq Adas said that the workers of the Geo and Jang Group stood with the Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group and the movement will continue till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Ex-secretary general of RIUJ Bilal Dar said Imran Khan used to give threats of arrest to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and the political leaders who opposed him from the container in 2014 dharna. He said the journalist community stood with the workers of Geo and Jang Group for release of their Editor-in-Chief.

Senior Reporter The News Asim Yasin said the NAB has violated all of its own laws to arrest Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

In Lahore, the journalists and workers of Jang Group, Geo TV and The News continued protests on Friday against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on a baseless case of property purchase from private party lodged by the NAB.

The demonstration was held on Sir Agha Khan Road outside the offices of Jang Group where workers chanted slogans against the rulers for victimising the owner of largest media group in the country for exposing their incompetence and faulty policies that brought chaos and unrest in all spheres of life. They also held banners and placards with slogans of resisting the government moves to usurp media freedom, and warning that rulers would ultimately face frustration and humiliation in their desires of suppressing the freedom of expression.

Addressing the protestors, Editor Awaz Khalid Farooqi said history was a testimony that all governments world over had to face defeat in their efforts to contain freedom of expression. He said in democratic world, free media had always won its path of freedom against the oppressive rulers whenever they attacked the freedom of expression, since free media was necessary for functioning of democracy. He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had always suffered negative tactics from different governments and never backed down under their threats. He lamented that all previous governments in one way or the other had tried to curb and tame Jang/Geo Group since it had been the most prominent voice of the freedom of expression in the country.

Geo Bureau Chief Raees Ansari said fascist regimes always tried to eliminate those exposing their faults and corruption, and for speaking truth against their faces. He lamented that the PTI government which always claimed to be the champion of democracy and freedom of the press in the past, was now bent upon dirty and cheap tactics against media to suppress the voice of freedom of expression. He warned that protest campaign would be increased if Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not released immediately.

Jang chief reporter Maqsood Butt said the PTI government had badly failed in providing the basic necessities of life to the citizens but was bent upon to gag the voice of Jang/Geo Group since it had been speaking the truth in exposing the failed policies of the PTI government. He said the Pemra and NAB had become symbol of oppression against free media and freedom of expression, since both of them were being used as a weapon to suppress the voice of dissent and truth. He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had become a symbol of resistance and free media in the country and the more the rulers would victimise them the more he would gain popularity and success.

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society president Wasif Nagi said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had been the voice of freedom of press in the past, and he would continue to brave the victimisation of the PTI government and would emerge from his present incarceration as the hero of the freedom of expression in Pakistan. He said the history would remember Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman with the likes of big names of freedom of expression in the subcontinent like Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Agha Shorish Kashmiri etc.

Civil Society leader Abdullah Malik Advocate said arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a false case was amount to terrorising the freedom of expression and democratic freedom in the country. He said the government had used NAB to launch a suicide attack against the media and Jang group since it had been the largest media group in the country. He alleged that the government wanted to have news and views of its own choice from the media and was misusing the NAB to blackmail the media groups.

Senior reporter of Geo Lahore, Umme Farwa said workers of Jang/The News/Geo groups stood behind their Editor-in-Chief since they took upon themselves to be the torch-bearers of freedom of expression but also for their livelihood since the government had also attacked them financially by clamping down their source of income and employment.

In Karachi, former chairman Senate and PPP central leader Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said the increasing fascist tendencies of the current government are forcing the country’s political parties, civil society groups, trade unions and journalists to launch a joint protest at the country level.

Rabbani expressed the views as a show of solidarity with journalists protesting against the arrest of Geo Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, at the Jang building at II Chundrigar Road. Rabbani accompanied by PPP Sindh secretary general Waqar Mehdi denounced the government’s coercive actions against the media struggling to survive under trying circumstances.

He said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman’s arrest is also an attack on Article 19 of the Constitution. Rabbani said that the government has intensified its attack on the Jang-Geo group which can no more be tolerated. “The government is pressurising each and every institution to bring it under its subordination. We will not allow the government to carry on with its fascist policies,” he said. Rabbani said the PTI government started attacking the institutions beginning from the parliament and have now trained its guns against the media that informs and brings awareness to the nation.

Meanwhile, at the call of the Joint Action Committee of the workers of Geo, Jang, and The News, the protest continued on the ninth day on Friday and a large number of journalists held a protest demonstrations against the arrest of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief and a blanket ban on the Geo News at the Jang offices. The participants carried placards and raised slogans for releasing MSR and full restoration of Geo News on the cable network: “Bahaal Karo, Bahaal Karo. Geo News Ko Bahaal Karo” (Restore Geo News, Restore Geo News) and “Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman Ki Giriftari Azadi-e-Sahafat Par Hamla Hai “(Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest is an attack on press freedom).

Terming actions against Jang-Geo Group as an attack on the media freedom, its independence and freedom of expression, the speakers said that Jang Group is the largest media group playing its pivotal role for making a stable and strong Pakistan by keeping the people informed. They said the federal government’s sustained crackdown against the media is particularly focussed on the Jang Group by slashing down its advertisements, arresting the group’s editor in chief and then relegating the Geo News channel’s slot on the cable to lower numbers. The Jang administration had provided safety masks and sanitizers to the protesters as precautionary measure from coronavirus.

Newspaper: The News