LONDON: Pakistan Human Rights Forum (UK) has condemned the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The press release was signed by Shahid Dastgir Khan, who is one of the oldest and founding members of PTI and has served as an adviser on political and legal issues to Prime Minister Imran Khan. Dastgir, who works as a solicitor and runs his own legal practice, said: “I stand in solidarity with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on freedom of expression and the right to a free trial.”
He said it seemed that MSR was targeted for upholding these values and was a “victim of unlawful and unacceptable arbitrary action of detention and harassment by NAB”.
The solicitor said: “There can be no compromise on freedom of expression. No society can progress and no government can truly command respect within the international community if it seeks to gag or harass its media.”
The legal community of UK also shared their concerns about Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s illegal detention by NAB. Solicitor Moeen Khan said MSR’s arrest had all the hallmarks of a witch-hunt by the government-NAB nexus. He said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was cooperating with NAB but he was arrested at the investigation stage which violated NAB’s own rules.
“The whole world has condemned the arrest of MSR. It’s known to all that the PTI government has been using NAB to target its political opponents. The only purpose of NAB is to degrade and humiliate opponents of PTI and keep them in detention for as long as possible.
“At the end, all those arrested and detained by NAB have been vindicated. The arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has brought bad news for Pakistan globally and its time that powers that be in Pakistan intervened and resolved the situation for justice,” said Moeen.
Solicitor Sheikh Asif Salam said: “MSR’s arrest is not only illegal but also untimely. Instead of fighting problems, the government is opening new and unnecessary frontiers against its own people rather than uniting for the common good.”
Salam further stated that NAB’s move to arrest MSR was “nonsensical” because he was willing to fully cooperate. He also shared his concern on how someone could be arrested during such an early stage of the investigation.
Several international organisations including Reporters without Borders, New York Times and Council for Protection of Journalists have condemned MSR’s arrest and declared it an attack on free speech.
According to the Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, Pakistan currently stands at number 142 out of 180 countries. Previously, the International Federation of Journalists had termed Pakistan as the most dangerous country for journalists after 14 journalists were killed in 2014.
Association of Pakistani Lawyers UK Chairperson, Barrister Amjad Malik, said: “The arrest of MSR is the current government’s biggest mistake. We reinforce that it will not weaken the resolve of right thinking people and these tactics shall be defeated by forces of democracy and freedom of expression.”
“Voices of Pakistan can neither be silenced nor stopped by coercive vindictive measures and due process, fair trial, and across the board accountability is not only part of International law but now the part of the Constitution of Pakistan through article 1A,” he said.