Journalists continue protest against arrest of Jang-Geo head

LAHORE/RAWALPINDI: The Jang/Geo Media Group workers and other journalists on Tuesday continued protests against arrest of the Group’s Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a fake case and demanded his immediate release.

They expressed strong concern over shifting of Geo News to last numbers on cable network and shutting down its broadcast in various cities after the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and termed the same a conspiracy to silence media in Pakistan. In Lahore, the journalists carrying banners and placards chanted slogans such as “Geo ki Azadi tak jang rahay gee, jang rahay gee”, and “Geo ko jeenay do”, etc.

Addressing the protestors, senior journalist and anchorperson Sohail Warraich said that the world over free press had won whenever any government tried to suppress free and independent media. He said that the government would also repent as it had attacked freedom of media in Pakistan by imposing curbs.

Baidar Bakht said a fascist regime would always try to eliminate anyone highlighting truth or exposing wrongdoings and added it seemed the government in the country was also following the same pattern. He said as the government failed to control free press in the country it resorted to arrest Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Haji Ibrahim, president Jang Workers Union, said politics of victimisation had always produced humiliating results for the rulers. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan claiming to make Pakistan on the ideal of the Islamic welfare state, Riyasat-e-Madina, could not face truth and criticism which were essential elements to build a fair, transparent and just society. He added there was a dichotomy between what the PM said and what he was doing. He said instead of providing jobs to jobless and homes to homeless people, the rulers were busy in snatching the same from the poor. Khalid Farooqi said Jang/Geo Media Group was the voice of truth and the voice of the voiceless. He said it was unfortunate that every ruler in Pakistan tried to adopt the policy of aggression and curbs against Jang/Geo Media Group. He said the government was doing great injustice with the Group in the name of NAB and Pemra. He added, however, truth could not be stopped by force. He said by arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman those at the helm wanted to attack and weaken media industry in Pakistan.

Arshad Ansari, president Lahore Press Club, said the entire journalist community in Pakistan, civil society, and political parties were expressing concern over the arrest of Jang/Geo Media Group’s Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He said the biggest hurdles to free press in Pakistan were Pemra and NAB and demanded the government to abolish the two. He said there was no moral justification for NAB chairman to remain on his seat after leakage of his video and demanded that NAB chairman should immediately tender his resignation.

Arshad Ansari also said journalists had great expectations from the Lahore High Court (LHC) to provide justice in this case. He criticised the government for not clearing payments to media houses for advertisements.

Rais Ansari said every one of us was Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release. The peaceful demonstration was held on Davis Road without causing any traffic mess on and around the road for quite some time. After the protest the demonstrators dispersed peacefully.

Senior lawyers declared the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman illegal and demanded Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take suo motu notice on this unconstitutional action of NAB. Former special prosecutor (NAB) Imran Shafiq said arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is the result of pressure tactics of government.

Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) also strongly condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The RCCI President Malik Saboor showed concerns on the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman which passed a negative message among general public.

Senior lawyer of Supreme Court and former president District Bar Association (DBA) Sardar Asmatullah Khan Shakil-ur-Rahman was already warned that he will be arrested. He said the CJP should take suo motu action on the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He also said the PTI government was trying to completely destroy media industry through its wrong decisions.

Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi President Malik Waheed Anjum and General Secretary Raja Faheem Altaf said stoppage or number changing of Geo transmission is an illegal and unconstitutional action.

Senior lawyer of Supreme Court Toufiq Asif said the government is not going in right direction. Senior lawyer of High Court Tasleem Abbasi said that lawyers community throughout the country is with Jang Group. “The CJP should take suo motu notice on this arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman,” she demanded. She warned to come on roads if the government did not stop such kinds of revengeful actions. Former general secretary of District Bar Association (DBA) Raja Amir Mehmood said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is an illegal and unconstitutional act of the NAB.