Mir Shakeel: Glory personified


There were three famous well read papers in 1950, the first one Jang, second Anjam and the third morning paper “Nai Roshni”. As a student of 4th class I was very fond of reading Jang newspaper. I remember only 50 copies of Jang newspaper were fixed for small town of Shahdadpur in District Sanghar and its delivery was through Karachi Express train that use to run between Karachi and Lahore. It used to arrive in Shahdadpur around 12.30, the hawker would collect paper from Railway Station and distribute it to customers which were not many but had always 5 to 6 spare papers to sell to others on first come first serve basis. I used to go nearby hotel and just go through the paper. But from 1954 I used to have my own copy of the paper its price was 2 Annas. Sometimes I used to send letters to Majeed Lahori who would publish them in his column. The purpose to tell all this is primarily my love with this paper. Without knowing that one day I will also be writing for this paper on the opinion page. I have been a regular columnist in daily Jang for about 20 years
This is the only leading paper of Pakistan which enjoys great reputation in the world for its excellent reporting and up to date coverage of national and international news and events. The pioneer of this paper was Mir Khalil ur Rahman a renowned journalist of repute who never compromised on his principles. After his death Mir Jameel ur Rahman and Mir Shakil ur Rahman ran the show. Mir Jameel also passed away even when he was alive Mir Shakil ur Rahman ran the show, like his father he inherited all those qualities which remained strong point of his character.
Mir Shakil ur Rahman owner of biggest media group in Pakistan was arrested by NAB on 12 March 2020 on the allegations of getting 52 Kanal land in Lahore during tenure of Nawaz Sharif as Chief Minister of Punjab probably in 1986.Mir Shakil ur Rahman is a gentleman from top to bottom have not much of affiliations with him, met him thrice in his office. It was sometimes in middle of 1998 when I used to write for Jang. In one of the article written by someone carried some dirty remarks about Nawaz Sharif who happened to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I did not like the remarks and wanted to talk about it with Mir Shakil ur Rahman, called his office number and requested his secretary for an appointment. Without much effort I was asked to come next day at 11 AM. I went in his office introduced myself; he was very courteous, ordered cup of tea. During our brief talk I told him about the exact wordings about Nawaz Sharif used by some columnist that I thought was inappropriate. I was frank with him and told him sir irrespective of your differences the fact of the matter is he is the Prime Minister of Pakistan therefore in all fairness he deserves respect. He was very happy that someone has pointed out this matter to him and in principle he agreed. He immediately made a phone call to group Head and Editor Mahmood Sham and asked him to send copy of the paper of that particular date. He thanked me for pointing out this discrepancy and gave his visiting card with his direct number and told me that I could call him anytime on such matters. The purpose of narrating this incident is to reflect his character and to prove he is not bad at heart. I felt hurt when I heard about his arrest on a 34 year old case at a time when he was cooperating. His arrest is based on premise if he is out in open he may influence the case. But I think he yields more influence when he is in jail.
Incarcerated in the jail on remand after remand does Mir Shakil ur Rahman deserve the treatment he is getting? This is a country where state is doing very little to look after the poor people, attend to their problems, Jang has been seen in the forefront to highlight their grievances.This paper has proved to be the voice of oppressed, has served every segment of society without any discrimination and treated everybody alike.
20 March 2020 was the darkest day in the history of Pakistan when the owner of biggest media house, a renowned journalist was arrested in a most undignified manner. Action against him on 32 years old case on the face of it looks a joke. Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif have ruled Pakistan and Punjab Province for many tenures must have obliged so many people like Jam sadiq Ali late Chief Minister of Sind who doled out plots to all and sundry. But Mir Shakil case is totally different as it is duly documented except that it happened when Nawaz was the Chief Minister. We know people who committed murders and looters and plunderers have been set free on bail.Gen Parvez Musharraf’s NRO facilitated many criminals and most of them affiliated with major political parties were set free. The case here is of a man who is the owner of biggest media house of Pakistan Jang Group “NAAM HE KAFI HAI” is in jail and is being denied bail. He should be penalised being the torch bearer of freedom of press, he should be penalised for spreading narrative of Pakistan. He must be penalised for exposing corruption scandals, he must be taken to task for pointing out intellectual corruption, he must be penalised for criticising the government on poor governance. We have mafias all around, fake degrees, fake medicines, and fake milk sellers playing with the life of people of Pakistan. How many of them have been arrested. How many are jailed of his category until proven guilty. We have cases people killing large number of innocent people getting VIP treatment. Here is a case of gentleman whose family has given life and blood to this country and carrying on same legacy not to bow down but fight and fight. He is perhaps the only journalist whose arrest and subsequent remands have been criticised all over the world by various media houses and renowned journalists and groups and all are demanding his release without delay. Hopefully on 11 June when his appeal is heard likely to get much awaited justice.
Lastly it is also a fact that relations of this media group have never remained cordial with all the successive governments that certainly calls for review of policies. It is also a fact that the journalists of this media group have always received highest protocol and special treatment from establishment. There are always ups and downs, won’t it be better if the issues are deliberated for smooth relationship with all the stake holders. Press being the fourth pillar of state cannot be ignored and cowed down by threats but we all must remember “The press and nation Rise and fall together”