PML-N leader demands release of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman

"Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman should be released immediately and closure of Channel 24 should be lifted immediately": Shehbaz Sharif's letter to Speaker National Assembly.

According to the report of Baaghi TV, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, wrote a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly against the closure of the media and the arrest of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman.

In a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, Shehbaz Sharif said that he wanted to draw attention to the urgent matter of blatant violation of law, constitution and democracy. The issue is related to the unusual restrictions imposed on the media and the employment of media workers. The latest example of this is the closure of Channel 24, which has left thousands of families worried due to fear of unemployment.

Shaehbaz Sharif further said in the letter that just like other sectors of the country have been badly affected since the present government came to power, the media is also facing a very devastating situation. The government first resorted to dictatorial measures to block advertising. In order to increase the pressure on the media, programs of various anchors, ban on the publication of columns by columnists and dismissal of journalists who were declared ‘undesirable’ in the eyes of the government were adopted. A series of lawsuits have been launched against the owners of the company, the clearest example of which is the arrest of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, which has been termed as retaliation by the lawyers and the executive committee of the Pakistan Bar Council and other foreign journalist organizations.

Shehbaz Sharif further said that it was not just a matter of ‘Channel 24′ but of the current government’s intolerance for media freedom as a whole. The government has reached a stage of extremism in which government power is being used to silence every voice that refuses to accept the “government truth”.

Shehbaz Sharif added in the letter that the Constitution of Pakistan recognizes freedom of expression and access to information as a fundamental right. This constitutional guarantee, already in place in 1973, has been strengthened by the Eighteenth Amendment. The media is the fourth and most dignified pillar of the state in democracy and the rule of law. Freedom of expression and the closure of the channel under government pressure, batons, bullets and stones at peaceful protesters are undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal tactics which we condemn in the strongest terms.

Shehbaz Sharif demanded in the letter that while representing the opposition, I demand from you that Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman be released immediately and the closure of Channel 24 be lifted immediately. A parliamentary committee should be set up to look into issues related to the rule of law, review the abuses committed against the media industry, listen to the complaints of media representatives and journalists’ organizations and make suggestions for rectification. The government should implement it.

Shehbaz Sharif further said in the letter that he hoped that the decision would be taken keeping in view the constitution, democracy and the fourth pillar of the state instead of party affiliation or pressure from the Prime Minister. Listen to the voice of the people, do not turn it off.

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