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Jang/Geo editor-in-chief appears before accountability court

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LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) presented Jang/Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR) before an accountability court in a 34-year old private property case.

MSR has been in the accountability bureau’s custody for the last 37 days.

During the last hearing on April 7, the court had extended MSR’s physical remand by two weeks. MSR’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, had questioned why NAB wanted a former director-general of the Lahore Development Authority to have a face-to-face interaction with the media group’s editor-in-chief.

“The DG LDA had earlier recorded his statement, then what is the need to have a face-to-face conversation?” he asked. The counsel added that NAB had also asked the LDA for a map.

“What does MSR’s remand have to do with LDA either giving or not giving the map?” he further questioned.

‘Investigation being turned into vengeance’

While presenting his arguments, the lawyer had told the court his client had provided all the documents required by the accountability body.

“The investigation was being carried forward according to the law but now it is being turned into vengeance,” he said.

“NAB does not want to recover anything from MSR. According to the law, physical remand is allowed when a recovery is to be made from the suspect,” he said.

The lawyer further said former officers had recorded their statements with NAB regarding the case, and the authority had also taken all the record from Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

NAB had on March 12 arrested MSR when he appeared before the bureau on a call-up notice.

‘NAB has sent over a dozen notices’

According to a Jang Group spokesperson, the property in question was in fact bought from a private party 34 years ago and all evidence to this effect was given to the NAB and legal requirements fulfilled, such as duty and taxes.

According to the spokesperson, the appearance before NAB was in relation to a call-up notice for the verification of a complaint, yet an arrest was made.

“In the past 18 months, NAB has sent our reporters, producers, and editors — directly and indirectly — over a dozen notices, threatening a shutdown of our channels (via PEMRA) due to our reporting and our programmes on NAB,” said the spokesperson.

The arrest has been condemned in Pakistan and abroad. Politicians, parliamentarians, religious scholars, lawyers, intellectuals, human rights organisations, civil society and journalists’ organisations — national and international — view the arrest as the latest attempt by a heavy-handed regime to suppress dissent. 

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