South Asia
Pakistan authority arrest Geo News owner Rahman in land case; action seemed motivated

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 13 Mar 2020

Islamabad: In what appears like a crackdown for its anti-establishment reporting, Pakistani authorities have arrested the owner and editor in chief of the country's biggest independent group of newspapers and TV stations, Mir Shakilur Rahman, in connection with a case pertaining to the purchase of a 54-kanal piece of land, media reports said.

Known as the founder of 24x7 news channel Geo TV and the Editor-in-chief of Jang Group, Mir Shakilur Rahman was arrested in Lahore by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday in a case pertaining to the purchase of a 54-kanal piece of land, bureau spokesperson Nawazish Ali was quoted as saying by Dawn News.

 

Rahman had appeared before NAB for the second time on Thursday to answer the bureau's questions about the land in question, the news paper reported. He was later arrested.

 

According to NAB, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had illegally leased the land to Rahman in 1986, reported Dawn News.

 

He will be produced before the accountability court.

 

According to the notice issued on February 28, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Rahman had been called to appear before NAB on March 5 to record his statement regarding the land allotted to him in 1986 in Block H, Johar Town Phase 2 “by then chief minister Punjab Mian Nawaz Sharif in violation of the relevant laws and rules”.

 

"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 of the Geo media Group.
"In its defense, NAB has in writing said it is a constitutionally protected institution that cannot be criticised. NAB has also, through several means, tried to persuade the group to step back, to stop stories, among other measures in its favor at the expense of the full truth," spokesperson said.

 

"The Group will not stop any reporters, producers or anchors from any story that is on merit and at the same time will include NAB’s version. In this case, NAB denies all allegations above and claims they are independently pursuing all cases and have not been asked to do by the democratically elected government in Islamabad," the spokesperson added.

 

Interestingly, Pakistan is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 World Press Freedom Index which was released last year.

 

"Before his election in 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan often said publicly he would have Rehman arrested if he came to power," Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reported.

 

Image: DawnNews Screengrab




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