SLAMABAD/ LAHORE/ KARACHI: On the call of the Joint Action Committee of the workers of the Geo and Jang Group, the media workers Friday staged a hunger strike camp for the release Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman outside the Geo office in Islamabad.
Addressing the hunger strike camp, Naib Ameer Jammat-e-Islami Mian Muhammad Aslam and President PML-N federal capital and former federal minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said the media is fourth pillar of the state and was striving for the protection of the basic rights of the 220 million Pakistanis.
They said the arrest of the Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group is not against only a media house but also calculated effort to mute the voices for freedom of expression.
Mian Muhammad Aslam said that in the testing times of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Imran Khan should act as prime minister of 220 million Pakistanis, not only of 15 million Pakistanis.
He also questioned what kind of the national services were being rendered with putting restrictions on Geo News and Jang Group and with arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. “Jammat-e-Islami always stood for the freedom of press and will continue to extend its support for the freedom of media,” he said.
Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said renowned jurists and lawyers were declaring the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman a clear violation of law and Constitution.
Those who staged a hunger strike included Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ) Nasir Zaidi, Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir and Secretary General RIUJ Asif Ali Bhatti and solidarity with their colleagues was expressed by Editor The News Islamabad Aamir Ghauri, Bureau Chief Jang Islamabad Tahir Khalil, Chairman Joint Action Committee Nasir Chishti, ex-president National Press Club Shakil Anjum, ex-secretary general RIUJ (Dastoor) Ayub Nasir, ex-finance secretary NPC Nausheen Yousaf, Masood Abdul Rahim of Geo news, senior reporter of Jang Tanveer Hashmi, Syed Munir Shah Naqvi and Amjad Abbasi senior photographer Jang Jehangir Chaudhry.
Amir Jammat-e-Islami Mian Muhammad Aslam requested the participants of the Hunger Strike Camp to end their hunger strike. Nasir Chishti announced that the hunger strike camp will continue till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
In Lahore, the employees of Jang Group continued their hunger strike and protest outside their offices against the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Taking a principled stand, the participants including chairman editorial committee Jang Lahore Baidar Butt, editor Shaheeen Qureshi, Raees Ansari, Arshad Ansari, Maqsood Butt, Pervaiz Akhtar, Asif Mahmood, Zahid Ali Khan, Mohammad Farooq and several other employees pledged to continue their struggle and showed determination in carrying out the strike till the victimisation by the PTI government comes to an end and Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is released.
They had a set up a protest camp outside their office and demanded the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They were carrying placards and banners inscribed with demand of MSR’s release. They raised slogans condemning the arrest of the Jang Group’s editor-in-chief.
Also present on the occasion was Jamaat-e-Islami Markazi Naib Ameer Liaqat Baloch, who appealed to the Supreme Court to take notice of the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and ensure his early release.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan is not ready to give a free hand to media even during coronavirus pandemic. Addressing the gathering, Baloch said the government is damaging one of the pillars of the country. He said the government in its hunger for revenge has been using the NAB for personal gains and targeted the Jang Group. Earlier, PML-N MPA Ch Najeebul Haq and PML- N senior leader Ch Fiaz Zafar also joined the protest.
In Peshawar, the employees of Jang/Geo Group continued their hunger strike and protest outside their offices against the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for the fifth consecutive day.
The protesting journalists demanded immediate release of the Editor-in-Chief. Also in Karachi, the media workers of the Jang, Geo and The News International began a hunger strike on Friday in protest against the arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and said that he was being punished for truth-based editorial policy but the rulers would not be able to pressurise him and other journalists.
The Jang-Geo Joint Committee, a joint platform of the CBA unions of Jang, The News, Javed Printing Press, and Geo, organised the protest hunger strike camp outside the Jang Building at the II Chundrigar Road to denounce the federal government’s coercive measures against an already under-pressure media.
The All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (APNEC)’s secretary-general and Jang Publications Employees Union (CBA) Secretary Shakil Yamin Kanga, Karachi Bureau chief of the Geo News Fahim Siddiqui, The News Employees Union General Secretary Zafar Dara, Javed Press Union’s Zubair Siddiqui were prominent among those who participaged in the hunger strike camp on the first day.
Employees of media groups and members of various journalist organisations attended the protest camp. The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands.
Speakers on the occasion said that 28 days had passed since Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest but the government was delaying his release and extending his arrest just to satisfy its ego. They said that the National Accountability Bureau’s vindictive action against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is tantamount to suppressing the independent media and stressed that now is the time to collectively raise voice against this injustice. They added that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was put behind the bars at the complaint verification stage in a 34-year-old case in which he was already cooperating with authorities by regularly appearing for interrogation. His arrest was made to silence the free media and deprive the people of their right to information, they said.
They also said that at a time when the whole world is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing is highly enforced to prevent the spread of virus, keeping Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in unlawful custody was condemnable and reflected the federal government’s personal bias to persecute the chief of the country’s largest media house.
Leaders of the Jang-Geo Joint Committee also announced that four people from each organisation will sit on the protest daily till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Meanwhile, the QWP President Aftab Ahemed Khan Sherpao said in a statement that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is being targeted for upholding truth. He said the government has attacked the independent media to deprive the people from their right to know the truth.
The ANP provincial president Aimal Wali Khan said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a conspiracy to blackmail the media.
He said in a video statement that the government is targeting the political opponents and the media. He said thousands of journalists lost their jobs due to wrong policies of the government.
Newspaper: The News