ISLAMABAD: Political leaders, media bodies, journalists and social media activists while condemning the arrest of Geo/Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have termed it a part of stifling of media freedom by the government through the anti-graft body.From politicians like former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Sherry Rehman, Aftab Khan Sherpao, Bushra Gohar, Murtaza Wahab and Jan Achakzai to journalists and social media activists like Kamran Khan, Ansar Abbasi, Hamid Mir, Syed Talat Hussain, Nasim Zehra, Asma Sherazi, Kamran Shafi, Imtiaz Alam, Matiullah Jan, Adil Shahzeb, Mazhar Abbas, Yousuf Nazar, Ayesha Siddiqa, Husain Haqqani, Kamran Shafi, Javed Malik, Sana Bucha, Shama Junejo, Najia Ashar, Mehreen Zahra Malik and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan while condemning NAB’s act have termed it an attack on freedom of press. Many of them have raised questions on NAB’s arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman at complaint verification stage and believed that the anti-graft body’s conduct is delusional and dishonest.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while talking to media condemned NAB’s action against Jang/Geo group’s editor-in-chief and said that NAB has no courage to hold an open and transparent inquiry against Mir Shakil. He said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will prove the last attack of this government on freedom of press.
The PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz also condemned the NAB’s action of arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Another PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and termed it the biggest assault of Imran Khan government on free media. “Strongly condemn arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman Editor-in-Chief of Jang/Geo group by NAB. This is IK government’s biggest assault on free media & shall be defeated by forces of democracy & freedom of expression. Voices of Pakistan can neither be silenced nor stopped,” he tweeted.
Former Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao while condemning the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman said one side NAB is harassing the media and on the other side government is stopping the advertisement of Dawn and Geo group to deter them from reporting the truth.
Senator Sherry Rehman while condemning the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman said, “This is open harassment of media. First Dawn and now News. Govt just wants megaphones that sings its praises. The message is don’t be telling any truths to power, we will dig up old cases and put NAB on your trail.”
PPP leader Murtaza Wahab while condemning the arrest said, “The arrest of Mir Shakil without any court order, during the course of inquiry, especially when he was cooperating with the inquiry and appearing before NAB shows that our criminal justice system is based on prosecution of anyone who has a voice.”
Former MNA Bushra Gohar in her tweet said, “NAB is a joke. Condemn the arrest of @geonews_urdu’s editor-in-chief #MSR —Part of stifling of media freedom by Pindi selectors through the #PuppetPM. Reminder: Geo like other media houses sacrificed journalistic ethics for survival.”
Senior journalist Hamid Mir tweeted, “NAB Lahore arrested Chief Editor of Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in Lahore. It’s not a secret that why NAB arrested him. ARY accusing that Nawaz Sharif gave favour to him in 1986 but forgot what Nawaz Sharif did against him in 1998.”
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas tweeted, “ Prime Minister Imran Khan can’t tolerate voice of dissent. He has recently expressed his displeasure against Jang/Geo and daily Dawn. Arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is the first step. Dawn can be the next.”
Senior journalist Kamran Khan termed the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman the most reprehensible act. “Mir Shakilur Rahman’s arrest seems most outrageous of NAB’s arrests because he perhaps is the only one arrested at the complaint verification stage. No guessing is required to know why he was arrested. Most reprehensible act,” he tweeted.
Senior journalist Ansar Abbasi tweeted, “ Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest by NAB is highly condemnable. It’s an attack on freedom of press. A fake case was framed to arrest MSR despite his cooperation and in violation of IHC’s recent ruling.”
Pakistan’s former ambassador to United States Husain Haqqani on Twitter said, “Pakistan’s establishment wages war against media by several means. Now Mir Shakil, editor-in-chief of country’s largest media group, has been arrested by so-called corruption watchdog. Highly condemnable.”
Ayesha Siddiqa tweeted, “ I remember from 2011 that NAB had cases against media groups but there were more against Express Tribune. So the question is why Mir Shakil only? Doesn’t look like an issue of accountability but punishment”
“This is the price Geo Group has to pay for having journalists who report independently,” tweeted Yousuf Nazar.
Anchorperson Nasim Zehra tweeted, “Under what law does NAB decides to arrest Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman — the notice issued to him calls for complaint verification only. He arrives & NAB nabs him — the reason is obvious! Truly pathetic.”
“NAB arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, head of Jang and The News group, editor is an outrageous act, foolish vengeful. Soon enough NAB will fade into background and blame will be laid at the doorstep of those who run this polity. Is this what this country needs at this time”, tweeted Syed Talat Hussain.
“With IK and NAB, it has never been about justice or accountability, it’s all about getting even and seeking revenge. With Shakil-ur-Rehman being arrested, it’s now about control,” tweeted Sana Bucha.
Imtiaz Alam tweeted, “Mir Shakil arrested by NAB in a property transaction of 34 years ago. Regardless of charges, Mir Shakil is another victim of hybrid warfare for having allegedly ‘Crossed Red Lines’ and PM IK had recently threatened big media groups. Hence arrest of MSR. Condemn it.”
Jan Achakzai while condemning the arrest of Mir Shakil tweeted, “ Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest has no justification as NAB has already lost credibility. How come entire Sharif family out after even conviction. Accountability has died long ago. An old case of 35 years at inquiry stage will never inspire any confidence in NAB’s latest arrest.”