Calls for release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman rise

ISLAMABAD: In addition to international scholar and Institute Professor (emeritus) MIT, Laureate Professor University of Arizona Noam Chomsky, others noted names from the international academia have also joined voices for the release of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Nobel laureate and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University, Amartya Sen, Mary Richardson Professor of History, Director, Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies Tufts University Ayesha Jalal and Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi Rajmohan Gandhi who Research Professor at the College of Education, former Professor, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US, and many other celebrated scholars and journalists have endorsed a statement for release and fair trial of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They also call for protection of his rights.

The statement reads: “The arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Media Group, has taken place without a free trial or a conviction againsthim. Not only has the trial not even begun, but no charges have even been framed against him.

Yet he has been in a lockup now for over a month, since March 12, practically in solitary confinement. Under the international law, if a prisoner spends more than 22 hours alone in prison without meaningful human interaction, it is considered solitary confinement, the psychological and health damage of which can be permanent.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been cooperating with the authorities about the case which is related to a 34-year-old property transaction between two private parties. He presented himself before the investigators, flying in from outside the country.

There is no reason to not release Rahman from the National Accountability Bureau jail, particularly at a time when the global coronavirus pandemic is leading governments to set free non-violent prisoners with no criminal record, particularly if they are elderly and have health issues as Rahman does.

Let the case continue against him if there is merit. Let him be arrested if he is found guilty after a trial. This what fundamental rights are about. This is what an elected government that claims to be democratic should ensure.”

Other noted international academics Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University; Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Director, Center for International Development, Harvard University; co-founder, Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP); Shahla Haeri, Associate Prof. of Anthropology, Boston University; Beena Sarwar, visiting faculty, Journalism Department, Emerson College, former visiting journalism professor, Brown University, former Ferris Professor of Journalism, Princeton University; Kamran Asdar Ali, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin; Mariam Chughtai, Director Pakistan Programs, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University; Assistant Professor; Associate Dean, Syed Ahsan Ali & Syed Maratib Ali School of Education, Lahore University of Management Sciences Waqas Khwaja, Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia, Raza Rumi, Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College; Visiting faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs; Founding Editor, Nayadaur Media and Wajahat S. Khan, Columbia University, freelance producer-correspondent have also endorsed the statement.

Human rights activists and journalists abroad who have called for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman condemning violation of his rights are Antje Stiebitz, Radio Deutschland Kulture, journalist, Berlin, Germany, Arnold Zeitlin, former AP correspondent in Pakistan; Dr. Ahamed Frassini, Palestinian journalist filmmaker, Brussels, Belgium; Dr. Ewout Klei, Editor De Kanttekaning magazine, The Netherlands, John Pilger, investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, UK; Marjon Lucas, activist, Netherlands; Maria Laura Franciosi, Founding President, International European Press Club Brussels; member Italian News Agency ANSA and Italian Association of Journalists.

Pakistani expatriates who have endorsed the statement are:

Abbas Nasir, former Editor Dawn; former Editor Asia-Pacific, BBC World Service, London

Afaq Farooqi, editor Pakistan Post, New York

Ahmad Faruqui, Ph. D., Author, “Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan”, Columnist, and Energy Economist, San Francisco, California

Aliya Salahuddin, journalist; former producer, Geo TV; Italy

Fifi Haroon, journalist, London

Mahmud Jafri, Board of Overseers WGBH, CEO, Dover Rug & Home, Boston

Masood Khan, architect, planner and heritage preservationist, Boston

Naseem Shekhani, MD, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Qamar Rafiq, Pakistani Christian Diaspora South West Country, UK

Reema Omer, Legal Advisor, South Asia, International Commission of Jurists,

Siraj Khan, Interim CFO, PoliKey Inc. Sharon MA, Business Advisory Board-Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill MA, Goodwill Ambassador SPELT Pakistan, former President, Pakistan Association of Greater Boston,USA.

Sughra Raza, MD, FACR, Associate Prof Radiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Sulema Jahangir, dual qualified solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales; Advocate of the High Courts in Pakistan

Tanvir Khan, retired television producer and special needs worker, Boston

Tayyaba Hasan PhD, Professor of Dermatology and Health Sciences Technology, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Program

Umber Khairi, co-founder, Newsline, former producer, presenter BBC London

Intellectuals, activists, journalists in Pakistan who have sought release of Jang-Geo’s editor-in-chief are:

Abid Hasan Minto, advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

Dr. Adib ul Hasan Rizvi, SIUT, Karachi

Dr. A. H. Nayyar, physicist; retired professor QAU

Dr. Akmal Hussain, Distinguished Professor, Information Technology University, Lahore

Azhar Munir, researcher, writer, poet (on hunger strike for MSR’s release since March 29), Lahore

I.A. Rehman, journalist, former editor Pakistan Times, former director HRCP

Iftikhar Arif, poet

Kamran Khan, journalist, Dunya News

Kishwar Naheed, poet, former head PNCA, Islamabad

Dr. Mehdi Hasan, Chairperson HRCP

Mohammad Hanif, author and journalist

Munizae Jahangir, journalist, VoicePk.net

Owais Aslam Ali, Chairman Pakistan Press International (PPI)

Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist

Pirzada Qasim, poet and scholar

Saleem Asmi, former Editor, Dawn

Zohra Yusuf, former Editor Star Weekend; former Chair HRCP.

Media and human rights bodies that have endorsed the statement include Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), Human Rights Commisson of Pakistan (HRCP), Human Rights Watch (HRW) Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN)/Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

Newspaper: The News