LAHORE: Lawyers have strongly condemned the continuous illegal detention of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by National Accountability Bureau. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Senior lawyer and constitutional expert Abid Hassan Minto denounced the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year old property case, saying in Pakistan, ruling elitehad always used laws to stifle the voice of their opponents.
Minto regretted that the appropriate and presentable persons, who want to express their own point of view, are being arrested at the behest of ruling elite, instead of nabbing real criminals. He and his party have always opposed all such arrests, he added.
He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest was another example of state oppression and should be condemned at all levels. When asked, he said the right of free and fair trial comes at a later stage, we are against such arrests at the beginning.
He was of the view that a society never thrived where freedom of expression was curbed in the name of state sovereignty and institutions. Media being a watchdog should be allowed to work freely and independently.
He said when the NAB law was originally enacted in 1999 the political parties challenged it in Supreme Court and he was asked to represent the federal government. He said he defended the law at that time with a view that a good law would be used appropriately, but unfortunately, ruling class started using it to gauge the opponents. He said in our system even a good law became a bad law when it was used to silence voices raised against the state malfunctioning.
He pointed out that it was the responsibility of opposition political parties to stand steadfast against state oppression but our opposition parties were shattered and not working in the right direction.
There is an agreement between them on certain issues and principles have also been laid down but they are unable to agitate the problems in appealing way before the masses, he said adding that every political party has its own compulsions and compromises.
Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice-Chairman Abid Saqi said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was made to silence the voice of Jang and Geo Group which, according to him, always stood by the democratic forces. He said as per laid down procedure after holding inquiry, the NAB should have conducted the investigation and arrest the person if some incriminating material was collected against him.
He said the NAB had been violating fundamental rights of citizens by arresting them without having incriminating material. He said Supreme Court in numerous cases had questioned the performance of anti-graft body and it should be settled once and for all that at what stage NAB could arrest a person.
Pakistan Bar Council Member Azam Nazir Tarar also criticised the NAB for arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman at a stage where the complaint has not been verified yet. He said the Jang and Geo Group was being punished for standing by the democratic forces in the country. He said NAB was exercising unbridled powers only to defame the innocent people because it is a settled principle of law that a person is considered innocent unless proves guilty. However, the NAB is acting completely against this principle of law.
He was of the view that the Lahore High Court should have set aside his arrest. Secretary Supreme Court Bar Association Shamim-ur-Rehman Malik also slammed the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman terming it against basic rights.
He said that arrest being made by the anti-graft body in cases was tantamount to punishment before crime. He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest at complaint verification stage was unprecedented and uncalled for. He demanded the Prime Minister intervene and order to release all political opponents, including Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He said the PM should rise himself above his prejudices as it would improve his image as well.
Newspaper: The News