Daily Briefs

Photo : The News

14 March 2020, Saturday

In an effort to curb media freedom, owner of the Jang group arrested

National and international condemnation pouring in. Human Rights Watch says, "the space for dissent in Pakistan is shrinking fast, and anyone who criticises government actions can become a target."

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

Main Story
In an effort to curb media freedom, owner of the Jang group arrested, over a case dating back to 34 years

D. Suba Chandran

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Pakistan arrested Mir Shakilur Rehman, owner of the Jang Group and the editor of the English daily - The News. The case of the NAB against Rehman is for acquiring land illegally. According to Dawn, “the probe relates to property of almost seven acres that Mr Rahman is said to have acquired 34 years ago during the tenure of the then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif.” 

According to Dawn, “It is no secret that NAB has targeted opposition politicians by initiating probes, arresting them and then holding them in custody for extended periods — remands which have often ended in bail when courts found no reasonable justification to support the prolonged detention of suspects” (Dawn, 14 March 2020)

Besides arresting Rehman, the cable operators in Pakistan were asked to remove Geo channel from the list, so that the viewers could not watch the Geo TV. The Geo group has made a public appeal to the honourable chief justice of Pakistan submitting that the arrest is in violation of multiple decisions by the Supreme Court. The appeal highlights the arrest and the removal of Geo TV from the telecasting as an “orchestrated move to silence, tame, kill if necessary independent media”. (The News, 14 March 2020)

According to Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the celebrated lawyers of Pakistan who appeared on behalf of Mr Rehman, that the arrest was relating to a 34-year-old case where the transaction was between two private parties.

International condemnation is pouring in over the arrest. Brad Adams, the Asia Director of the Human Rights Watch-Asia in a statement said: “The space for dissent in Pakistan is shrinking fast, and anyone who criticises government actions can become a target.” (Dawn, 14 March 2020). The Head of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was quoted to have stated: “Let’s not be fooled, Shakilur Rehman’s arrest has no legal basis and is clearly an act of harassment designed to bring the Jang media group into line. We call for his immediate release. The Pakistani authorities are displaying appalling creativity in their attempts to intimidate journalists who try to work in a completely independent manner.” 

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