Case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR)

Case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR)

Revoking of old property case against MSR turned a deaf ear

Pak Chronicle Report

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain


Ironically, the government has turned a deaf ear to the issue of revoking of a so-called old property case against Jang Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR).

The case obviously seems to be a fake one on the grounds that a property which was purchased around 34 years back from a government entity, has no merit to be heard by an Accountability Court in present times.

MSR’s arrest reminds old method of victimization: The registration of such an old case by the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) Lahore proved to be so strange and it reminded people the old method of victimization of opponents by the past rulers.

The act of victimization of a political leader Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi (father of former prime minister and a sitting political ally Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain) is a part of the political history of this country when he was implicated by the then rulers in a fake buffalo theft case.

Appeals to abandon the case turned down: The case was registered in the General Ayub Khan’s dictatorial regime due to political victimization of then opponent of the government Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi. The present Pakistan Tehrek-e- Insaf (PTI) government is not a  dictator one and that was why it was made appeals by a large number of politicians (including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and other former prime ministers), journalists’ organisations, (from Pakistan and foreign countries)) editors’ organizations, newspapers’ employees’ organisations and other press and media workers, to abandon the concocted property case.

The government was then and again persuaded by the people to release MSR on the humanitarian grounds as his elder brother, Chairman Jang Group and printer and publisher of the Jang Group of Publications Mir Javed Rahman (a cancer patient) had got seriously ill, but unfortunately he (arrested by the NAB on March 12) remained under detention until Mir Javed Rahman passed away on March 31. He was later allowed to attend the funeral of later Mir Javed Rahman.

LHC directs NAB to submit fresh arguments on the bail of MSR: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) consisting two judges is hearing a petition challenging the detention of MSR. In its hearing conducted on Monday, the bench directed the NAB to submit its fresh arguments on the matter of bail of MSR.

At its previous hearing, the bench had directed the NAB to submit clause-wise explanations to the questions raised by the court. Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan pleading the case of MSR argued that first the NAB had summoned MSR on March 3, along with documents. Then the NAB had adjourned the proceedings by March 12. He contended that his client had asked the bureau to hand him over the written questions. However upon appearance on March 12, MSR was arrested. He drew attention of the court towards the arrest warrants, adding the arrest warrants against MSR were issued from Karachi instead of Lahore as the investigation was being carried out in Lahore.

Advocate Ahsan underlined the factor of extension of remand period, while arguing that the court concerned did not mention the reasons behind the decision.

The court, subsequently, adjourned the case until Thursday, while asking NAB to submit fresh response in the proceedings.

MSR’s detention continues despite death of his brother: It may be mentioned that meanwhile the NAB had allowed MSR to meet his ailing brother Mir Javed Rahman, after news surfaced of him being critically ill. A statement issued by the NAB had said “MSR can go to Karachi for one day to visit his ailing brother, however, he will remain under NAB detention.”

Earlier Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari had requested the bureau to allow MSR (on parole) to meet his ailing brother on humanitarian grounds.

Petition filed: The petition, filed by MSR’s wife Shahina Shakil, had stated that the MSR had been cooperating with officials and the arrest was a flagrant violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the accountability watchdog.

The petition had requested that the court to declare the arrest an abuse of the NAB chairman’s authority, as the arrest was made while the case was still in the process of verification.

The petition further argued that NAB had violated the 2019 businessmen policy introduced by the Government of Pakistan by arresting MSR.

It further said that the extension in remand of MSR by the accountability court hearing the case should be declared null and void, along with the decision to arrest him.

The NAB chairman, a director-general of the watchdog and judges of the accountability court, along with others, have been named in the petition pertaining to the arrest.

In the previous hearing, the court had asked NAB to present the reasons behind the arrest, clause by clause, in reference to the plea.

Barrister Ahsan argues NAB violated its policy by arresting MSR: During the hearing, MSR’s counsel, Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan, argued before the court that NAB had violated its policy by arresting MSR. He added that NAB had itself decided not to summon businessmen for questioning. The LHC is also examining the matter of extension physical remand by the accountability court in relation to its legal powers.

The high court had allowed MSR to meet family and lawyers, granting access to medicines and newspapers as well.

NAB had on March 12 arrested MSR in connection with property allegedly bought illegally from a government entity more than 34 years ago.

According to a Jang Group spokesperson, the property was in fact bought from a private party 34 years ago and all evidence of this was given to NAB and legal requirements fulfilled, such as duty and taxes.

According to the spokesperson, the appearance before NAB was in relation to a call-up notice for the verification of the complaint, yet an arrest was made. Islamabad High Court’s recent judgment against NAB’s violation of the country’s law and a violation of NAB’s own rules has been committed.

“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.

“In its defense, the 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.”

Jang Group reiterates its commitment to run stories on merit:  “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,” the spokesperson added.

MSR’s wife, Shahina Shakil, had moved the LHC on March 16 through Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan challenging the detention and the court asked the NAB to present reasons behind the arrest, clause by clause, in reference to the plea.

MSR’s arrest termed illegal by political observers: Political observers term the arrest as illegal and against the ethical norms because the MSR and his group was then and again rejected and rather threatened for dire consequences even before the election of PTI. The PTI workers had allegedly victimized and tortured certain reporters and journalists at their gatherings due to strong opposition by their leader. The leader who himself had been loudly warning MSR for alleged undermining the role and political activities of the PTI.

The arrest was being linked with the past opposition of the leader, the observers argued.

On the other hand, a senior advocate Chaudhry Mohammad Saeed Zafar has claimed to have filed a reference before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) that questioned the role of NAB Chairman (Justice retired Javed Iqbal) due to a video scandal aired last year which was denied by the office of the NAB.

Those allegedly involved in the matter were termed as blackmailers and criminals and they were arrested. However, the question of hearing of the same reference pertaining to a video leaked last year in which a man named Farooq Nol and a woman, Tayyaba Gul, were pressurizing NAB officials to do their bidding by associating themselves with Justice retired Javed Iqbal.

The advocate argues that since the matter was not properly addressed by the NAB Chairman, the question of hearing of the reference could not be ruled out. The applicant claims to have prayed to SJC to have a forensic audit of the video conducted so that the truth could be revealed. It may be mentioned that as the video scandal had appeared, many people from different walks of life including some political leaders had demanded resignation of the NAB chief, but the chief had vowed to keep up playing his role against the negative elements who tried to defame him.


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