It has been over 100 days since the arbitrary arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Editor-in-Chief of the Geo-Jang Group, who remains behind bars in Pakistan. The Public Media Alliance condemns the ongoing detention and continues to call for his release.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR), the editor of the largest media group in Pakistan, remains in detention despite protests and ongoing calls for his release by rights groups, media organisations, religious leaders, politicians and his legal team.

Just this week, another attempt to grant MSR bail was delayed, this time until 7 July. According to an editorial in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, his bail petition has so far gone unheard with five hearings either cancelled or postponed. The latest was quickly adjourned due to missing paperwork by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-corruption body responsible for the arrest.

Read more: Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s bail plea once again deferred (The News International)

MSR was arrested on 12 March in relation to unproven allegations about property transactions dating back to 1986.

The arbitrary nature of Rahman’s arrest has been widely condemned as being part of a systematic campaign to curtail independent media and freedom of expression in Pakistan. It is widely believed that the arrest was due the media group’s independent editorial policy and criticism of the current government.

The arrest has been labelled as one of the latest attempt to muzzle independent and critical journalism in the country. The Geo-Jang group is the only major media organisation in Pakistan to be shut down over 14 times. It’s journalists have also faced threats, harassment and physical violence, in a reflection of the poor environment for journalists and media freedom more broadly.

Read more about Pakistan’s media landscape: Focus on PSM | Pakistan 2019

 Pakistan fell three places to 145/180 in this year’s Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index, which blamed growing pressure from the country’s military on news outlets, threats of advertising withdrawal, increased censorship and impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.

The Public Media Alliance remains deeply concerned for Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s health and his ongoing detention. We continue to join calls for his release. Now more than ever, citizens need trusted, strong media houses led by experienced journalists that are prepared to probe government actions and ask the questions that will help save lives.

Header Image: Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the owner, CEO and Editor in Chief of Geo TV and the Jang Media Group. Credit: Geo