The state should answer for the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest, Imaan Zainab Mazari, a lawyer and activist, said on Wednesday.
Zainab, in a video message, asked: “Do civilised nations ever pay back those who have served their country their whole life in such a manner?”
“This question needs to be answered,” she continued, adding: “… [they will] have to apologise for Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman’s illegal and unjust arrest.”
She further demanded that the state answer for the gagging of the press and illegal surveillance of judges — the latter in reference to the case against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court.
“We are tired of allegations of treason and corruption,” she said. “The mother of the nation, Fatima Jinnah, was the first [to be accused of being an] alleged traitor and Indian agent.”
The lawyer noted that it had been over 100 days since MSR’s arrest, but neither has any case been brought against him nor has he been charged.
“I can assure you that no case will be proven against him either.”
“The case will end soon after he and his family are mentally tortured, just like the presidential reference against Justice Isa was quashed by the Supreme Court,” Mazari said.
“Self-respect is a basic human right, but in our state [Pakistan] the concept of humanity is fading rapidly and we can witness the examples of this every day,” she regretted.
Indirectly referring to the recent sacking or removal of some well-known teachers from their institutions, she said academics are being let go because they encourage students to “think independently”.
“They are actually scared of the day when freedom of expression will be restored in this country. It will prove to be the last blow to this crumbling wall,” she said.
“Only God knows how many families have suffered due to this dictatorial attitude,” she concluded.
Opposition slams govt over MSR’s arrest
On Tuesday, opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly advised the government to stop victimising political opponents and focus on the improvement of the national economy, while taking part in the budget debate.
PPP’s Shazia Marri expressed hope that the government would stop pointing a finger at the opposition and would provide relief to the masses. She also came down hard on the government for keeping MSR in detention.
“It is necessary to mention that the government is also making Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman its target of victimisation,” Marri said. She said the PTI government, which made hollow claims and false promises, had disappointed the masses with its performance.
She asked the ministers to respond to the criticism of opposition members but not point a finger at them. “You cannot provide relief to the masses while pointing a finger at the opposition members,” the PPP lawmaker said, adding that the PTI leaders had learnt nothing while sitting on the opposition benches for five years.
PML-N MNA Kheal Das Kohistani said that MSR was being punished for upholding freedom of expression.
The lawmaker said that freedom of expression was under curbs under the current rulers and human rights are being violated. He added the government was first putting politicians in jails and now it has turned its guns towards the media.
Kohistani further said MSR was being punished for not sacking independent journalists like Ansar Abbasi, Saleem Safi, Arshid Waheed Chaudhry, Umar Cheema, Shahzeb Khanzada and others. He wondered who would tell the truth if leading media persons are sacked and newspapers censored.