Mir Shakil ur Rehman, also known as MSR is a Pakistani media tycoon and the owner of country’s largest media group Jang and Geo. He is among the wealthiest and most influential people in the country. Mir Shakil ur Rehman was 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 Lahore by the then Chief Minister Punjab Mian Nawaz Sharif in violation of the relevant laws and rules. And then the ownership transferred to him in 2016, when Mr. Sharif again headed the government. NAB reported that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had illegally leased the land to Mir Shakil three decades back. Jang Group issued an official statement on the issue, explaining that the property had been bought from a private party 34 years ago and all evidence regarding it had already been provided to NAB. They further blamed NAB for stepping up pressure against Jang media group in order to stop negative reporting about anti-corruption watchdog.
Mir Shakil ur Rehman’s arrest has led to an uproar, with opposition party leaders and right bodies calling it a political harassment and an attack on media freedom. The bureau, which is intended to be an independent body, has denied charges of politicization and claimed they are independently pursuing all cases including Mir Shakil.
The important question arising from current situation is, are Jang Group and Mir Shakil really targeted through pressure tactics? And why all such important personalities hide behind different cloaks such as democracy and journalism rather than facing accusations and clearing their names. There have been a number of accusations and controversies about Mir Shakil and his media Group. Professional journalists in the country also accused Mir Shakil for destroying the much respected institution of the ‘editorship’ in the newspaper industry. Some business groups have also alleged him of using the media group for blackmailing. Tax evasion and many other corruption charges are labeled against him. For now, the reality of Jang media group accusation seems to be an effort to confuse the issue and use media clout to pressure NAB investigation. However, time will tell if NAB have enough evidences to implicate Mir Shakil on various charges levelled against him.
However, one thing is very evident from the current saga, the duplicity of Jang media group. Jang Media group were at the fore front of supporting NAB and FIA while they arrested Bol Media house tycoon on various charges. It is widely believed that Jang Media group was wary of Bol media house launching and used the opportunity to defame the media house. Why didn’t Jang Media group stakeholders pay heed to what they preach now is a very pertinent question, they should answer.
Secondly, it is high time now to stop criticizing every arrest by NAB for personal reasons and trust the investigation system of the country. NAB laws surely need a lot of improvement but at the same time blaming it to be a government tool is outrightly wrong and serves no one.