IIRMR condemns arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman

LAHORE: Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR) has underscored the need of unity and solidarity in the rank and file of all stakeholders of media in Pakistan.

“Only strong walls of unity between owners and media practitioners can defeat internal and external forces hell bent to undermine rights of freedom of expression and fundamental liberties enshrined in the Constitution,” said a joint resolution passed in a meeting held in the chairmanship of Muhammad Mehdi at its office Tuesday.

IIRMR resolution denounced arm-twisting against Jang / Geo group, Dawn media group and other media houses terming it an attempt to muffle the voice of truth. It condemned arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Editor-in-Chief of the Jang / Geo group on fake land allegations.

Questioning the merits of the case, it said that NAB earned a bad reputation in terms of performing its duties as per law. “It is on NAB’s discredit that it spring into action against those who point out government’s pitfalls and policies,” it said. It also showed solidarity with the joint writ petition filed by three opposition parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) against media arm-twisting and illegal arrest of Shakeel-ur-Rahman.

Executive meeting was attended by its senior members Sohail Warraich, Shahzada Irfan Ahmed, Javed Farooqi and through live conference Steven Arnone from New York, Asad Ch from Washington, Ali Mehdi Lyon from France, Khalid Jarral University of Nottingham UK, Hassan Mehdi from Hamburg Germany, Digby Wren Deakin from University (Melbourne, Australia) and José Manuel Marquitos de Abreu Ferreira from Portugal.

The resolution said that from dictatorship to democratisation, Pakistan media was a victim of multiple layers of curbs on freedom of expressions. As there was no letup, unfortunately, a team spirit in the rank and file of media was missing, resolution mentioned.

“A free press reporting on the democracy, human rights, governance and corruption shape our lives and society. Without it, we are susceptible to have a reality that is only made on half-truth with less transparency and weakened accountability,” IIRMR chairman Muhammad Mehdi and President Yasir Habib Khan spoke on the occasion.

They said that stoking financial crisis, unimpeded layoffs, salary cuts, restraints on functioning, gradual closures of newspapers and private channels, unwarranted cases, threats, disappearance were the forms of tactics to teach the lessons to those who preferred defiance.

Talking about challenges of media, they said that Pakistan had been ranked 142nd in position at the 2019 World Press Freedom index. As per Reporters Without Borders report, last year posed a dangerous situation in Pakistan.

They demanded for tweaking media rules and regulations by revamping freedom landscape on modern lines without any biasness after taking on board all stakeholders concerned. They also asked the media people to keep honing their professional skills as per new trends to stay competitive.