TORONTO, Canada: The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) calls on the Government of Pakistan to release the Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been in detention since March 12.
The CJA stated Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest and detention by the National Accountability Bureau before substantive hearings have begun are contrary to the bureau’s established practice and are being widely seen as an attempt to intimidate the country’s largest independent media group.
The CJA also deplored the parallel action by the country’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ( PEMRA) instructing all cable distributors in Pakistan to stop broadcasting Geo TV, or to switch its broadcasts to a different, less accessible channel.
The CJA said that in another clear indication of the Government’s pressurisingof independent media, the Jang Group and the Dawn Media Group, owner of the leading English-language Dawn newspaper, have been suffering since January from a Government decision to withdraw advertising as a sanction for their independent critical reporting on government policy and actions.
The CJA deplored these systematic attempts to penalise two of the leading independent media companies in Pakistan. We call on the Government to honour the commitments it made in the Commonwealth Charter, to uphold freedom of expression and a free media which is protected by law in its freedom to report and comment on public affairs.
The CJA urged Prime Minister Imran Khan, as the country’s democratically elected leader, to lift the present curbs on independent media and to establish an environment where the media can work without fear or arbitrary official reprisals and can play its proper part in the democratic government of Pakistan.