LAHORE: Veteran journalist Azhar Munir waging a hunger strike for the last 22 days for the release of Jang/The News/Geo editor in chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has suffered from deteriorating health as he has lost a considerable amount of weight over the last three weeks.
Azhar, 65, who has been experiencing weakness, loss of sleep and difficulty in walking and standing up forthe last many days, has lost around 12 pounds weight (5.5 kg). Talking to The News, he said one of his friends took him to a medical store for measuring weight which was over 12 pounds less than his normal weight before commencing the hunger strike. But, Azhar says he is in high spirits and feels himself stable. Yet his colleagues fear his weakness could make him vulnerable to some other infection. His friends expressed concerned for his life as he has been a smoker for nearly five decades and his lungs were also weak.
Besides, for the last many days he also suffered from occasional indigestion when he was made to eat after long intervals of starvation.
So far he has been waging a lone struggle sitting on a rug at the foot path outside Lahore Press Club despite threats and insults from different quarters. Azhar says he values and praises those who support him by visiting his camp where he has been sitting on a rug for the last 22 days. He said when Mir Shakilur Rehman was arrested, it was clear that NAB violated its own laws which said nobody could be arrested in verification stage. “I was planning to invite likeminded journalists for staging a hunger strike. But there were certain lobbies praising NAB action. There was an incident which worked as catalyst for my desire to protest against this arrest,” he said.
“The lobby issued loud verbal threats of breaking the legs of anybody who waged strike to support the editor-in-chief. I knew the threat was directed against me. Then I decided to test the guts of this lobby, I declared my strike, daring the bullies to harm me,” he said.
Azhar Munir, a life member of Lahore Press Club, told The News that he had written his will, leaving all his movable and immovable property to Lahore Press Club. “I legalized my will three to four years back and informed the then president Shahbaz Mian about that. When this hunger strike is over, I will also legalize the procedure and nominate the persons authorised to oversee my assets after my death, including the lands, cash, bonds and royalty from books,” he said.
So far Azhar Munir has rejected all requests to give up his strike, from his colleagues, friends and family of the incarcerated editor-in-chief. He reiterated that he was there for the cause of democratic freedoms on the call of his conscience. He said, “If the editor-in-chief gives up his policy of fair journalism, he would have been released. This is time to support Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman before government increases pressure on him under custody.”
Newspaper: The News