Senior politicians demand Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s release

PESHAWAR: Senior politicians on Friday condemned the arrest of Jang Group Editor-in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as they visited the protest camp set up by the media workers.

The protest camp continued throughout the day outside the offices of the Jang, The News and Geo despite heavy rain. It was the 13th day of the camp, which has been attracting politicians, lawyers, traders and people from other walks of life to express solidarity with the protesting media workers. Those who visited the protest camp included chairman of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Awami National Party (ANP) central Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz provincial President Amir Muqam.

Other political activists who visited the protest camp included Sikandar Hayat Sherpao, Tariq Khan, Intikhab Khan Chamkani, Malik Nadeem Khan Awan, Fazullah Daudzai, Kamran Siddique and Malik Zarawar Khan.

Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah, The News Resident Editor Rahimullah Yusufzai, Daily Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik also spoke on the occasion and expressed their determination to continue the protest until Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s release. Other members of the journalist community were also present at the camp.

The political leaders termed the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman an unfair, illegal and revengeful act. They argued that this move by the government, which always claimed to be struggling for a change, was an attack on the press freedom and a threat to democracy. The speakers said the Jang Group being the largest media group of the country was being punished for reporting the truth and holding mirror to the rulers for their wrong deeds. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

They said his arrest was part of a conspiracy aimed at silencing the free media and murdering the journalist community economically. QWP chief Aftab Sherpao said it is strange that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been arrested in a private property case but the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was silent over the public sector scandals including Billion Tree Tsunami, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and flour and sugar issues.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the present government was using the state institutions to dub political opponents as corrupt and thieves. He came down hard on the NAB and accused it of keeping Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman behind bars through an oppressive action to silence his media organizations and punish him for taking an independent line in journalism.

The ANP leader said the democratic forces would continue to struggle for the press freedom as it was a must for the country’s integrity and flourishing of democracy. Amir Muqam said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was an attack on the independent media and a bid to ensure a compliant media. He said his party would continue to stand by the free media. Terming Prime Minister Imran Khan an ungrateful person, he said the Jang Group had built his reputation and backed him when he was in the opposition but now he has turned against it.

Newspaper: The News