ISLAMABAD – The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) yesterday arrested Editor-in-Chief of Jang Group of Newspapers and owner of Geo News, Mir Shakil-ur Rahman, in an alleged land scam.
According to the documents available with The Nation, the NAB Lahore had sent a questionnaire to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and asked to reply answers of all the ten questions which were related to the 54-kanal land. The NAB officials said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman appeared before the NAB team on Thursday, but he failed to give satisfactory answers.
According to NAB investigation, the Johar Town Housing Scheme was established since 1981. The Lahore Development Authority exempted 180-Kanals and 18-Marlas in the favour of Hidayat Ali and Hakim Ali etc, Genenral Power of Attorney Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. It says, on 14th July, 1986, the then CM Punjab Nawaz Sharif, changed the rules of exemption and the whole land (55-kanals and 5-marlas) got allotted to Hidayat and Hakim Ali, (GPA) Mir Shakil in Johar Town phase.
After the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Jang Group issued a press release and said, “the property was bought from a private party 34 years ago and all evidence of this was given to NAB including the legal requirements fulfilled like duty and taxes. In the past 18 months, NAB has sent our reporters, producers and editors, directly and indirectly, over a dozen threatening notices, threatening for a shutdown of our channels (via PEMRA) due to our reporting and our programs about NAB.
In a statement, APNS President Hameed Haroon and Secretary General Sarmad Ali said that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a clear indication that the present government has moved forward in its attempt to silence the independent media in the country. The APNS office-bearers said that this arrest is a clear signal to the media across the country that no voice of dissent will be tolerated during the tenure of PTI government. The history of all authoritarian governments indicates that ineffective government instead of improving their governance frequently fall back on silencing the public opinion, by stifling the media, they added.
The APNS is of the considered opinion that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a severe blow to the freedom of press and expression and it will be widely condemned by media and human rights organizations, the statement read.
The APNS office-bearers appealed to the Chief Justice of Supreme Court to take suo moto notice of the action against a free press in Pakistan to safeguard the article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in their separate statements have condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They said there remains a strong suspicion that such actions by NAB are selective, arbitrary and politically motivated.
NAB spokesperson also issued a statement and outrightly rejected the allegations leveled by the Jang Group saying that the bureau strongly believes in performing its duties as per law and constitution of Pakistan.
NAB spokesman in the statement termed the allegations concocted, fabricated and baseless adding that NAB is adhering to the policy of considering only cases sans caring about the status of the accused.
He said that NAB vehemently believes in freedom of media and will continue its national duties of taking action against the corrupt without caring about any propaganda, pressure, browbeating, and threats
He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will be presented before the accountability court Lahore today for remand.