Renowned Academics, Journalists Call for Jang Editor's Release in Pakistan

Mir Shakilur Rahman has been in jail since March 12.

New Delhi: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and well-known American intellectual Noam Chomsky are among the slew of international personalities calling for the release of the editor-in-chief of Pakistan’s Jang media group, Mir Shakilur Rahman.

Rahman, whose media group has been facing the brunt from the Pakistan government, has been in jail since March 12 in a property dispute. On Tuesday, the Pakistan accountability court extended his judicial remand till May 12.

He has been in a lockup now for over a month, since March 12, practically in solitary confinement. Under international law, if a prisoner spends more than 22 hours alone in prison without meaningful human interaction, it is considered solitary confinement, the psychological and health damage of which can be permanent.

Also read: ‘State Has Hounded Masrat Zahra’: 450 Activists, Scholars Condemn UAPA Use on Journalists

The full text of the statement is below.


The arrest of Mir Shakilur Rahman, the editor-in-chief of the Jang media group, Pakistan, has taken place without a free trial or a conviction against him. Not only has the trial not even begun, but no charges have even been framed against him.

Yet he has been in a lockup now for over a month, since March 12, practically in solitary confinement. Under international law if a prisoner spends more than 22 hours alone in prison without meaningful human interaction it is considered solitary confinement, the psychological and health damage of which can be permanent.

Rahman has been cooperating with the authorities about the case which is related to a 34-year old property transaction between two private parties. He presented himself before the investigators, flying in from outside the country.

There is no reason to not release Rahman from the National Accountability Bureau jail, particularly at a time when the global coronavirus pandemic is leading governments to set free non-violent prisoners with no criminal record, particularly if they are elderly and have health issues as Rahman does.

Let the case continue against him if there is merit. Let him be arrested if he is found guilty after a trial. This what fundamental rights are about. This is what an elected government that claims to be democratic should ensure.


Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (emeritus) MIT, Laureate Professor U. of Arizona

Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate, Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University

Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History, Director, Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, Tufts University

Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University

Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Director, Center for International Development, Harvard University; co-founder, Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP)

Rajmohan Gandhi, Research Professor at the College of Education, former Professor, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US; grandson of Mahatma Gandhi

Shahla Haeri, Associate Prof. of Anthropology, Boston University; former Fullbright Scholar Lahore, Pakistan

Beena Sarwar, visiting faculty, Journalism Department, Emerson College; former visiting journalism professor, Brown University; former Ferris Professor of Journalism, Princeton University

Kamran Asdar Ali, Professor, Department of Anthropology. University of Texas, Austin

Mariam Chughtai, Director Pakistan Programs, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University; Assistant Professor; Associate Dean, Syed Ahsan Ali & Syed Maratib Ali School of Education, Lahore University of Management Sciences

Waqas Khwaja, Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia

Raza Rumi, Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College;  Visiting faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs; Founding Editor, Nayadaur Media

Wajahat S. Khan, Columbia University, freelance producer-correspondent


The following have also called for the release of Mir Shakilur Rahman, condemning his incarceration listed below (Being updated, alphabetically)

Human rights activists and journalists abroad

Antje Stiebitz, Radio Deutschland Kulture, journalist, Berlin, Germany

Arnold Zeitlin, former AP correspondent in Pakistan

Dr. Ahamed  Frassini, Palestinian journalist filmmaker, Brussels, Belgium

Dr. Ewout Klei, Editor De Kanttekaning magazine, The Netherlands

John Pilger, investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, UK

Marjon Lucas, activist, Netherlands

Maria Laura Franciosi, Founding President, International European Press Club Brussels; member Italian News Agency ANSA and Italian Association of Journalists

Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire

Pakistani expatriates 

Abbas Nasir, former Editor Dawn; former Editor Asia-Pacific, BBC World Service, London

Afaq Farooqi, editor Pakistan Post, New York

Ahmad Faruqui, Ph. D., Author, “Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan”, Columnist, and Energy Economist, San Francisco, California

Aliya Salahuddin, journalist; former producer, Geo TV; Italy

Fifi Haroon, journalist, London

Mahmud Jafri, Board of Overseers WGBH, CEO, Dover Rug & Home, Boston

Masood Khan, architect, planner and heritage preservationist, Boston

Naseem Shekhani, MD, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; President APPNA 2019.

Qamar Rafiq, Pakistani Christian Diaspora South West Country, UK

Reema Omer, Legal Advisor, South Asia, International Commission of Jurists, 

Siraj Khan, Interim CFO, PoliKey Inc. Sharon MA, Business Advisory Board-Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill MA, Goodwill Ambassador SPELT Pakistan, former President, Pakistan Association of Greater Boston,USA.

Sughra Raza, MD, FACR, Associate Prof Radiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Sulema Jahangir, dual qualified solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales; Advocate of the High Courts in Pakistan

Tanvir Khan, retired television producer and special needs worker, Boston

Tayyaba Hasan PhD, Professor of Dermatology  and Health Sciences Technology, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT  Program

Umber Khairi, co-founder, Newsline, former producer, presenter BBC London

Intellectuals, activists, journalists in Pakistan

Abid Hasan Minto, advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

Dr. Adib ul Hasan Rizvi, SIUT, Karachi

Dr. A. H. Nayyar, physicist; retired professor QAU

Dr. Akmal Hussain, Distinguished Professor, Information Technology University, Lahore

Azhar Munir, researcher, writer, poet (on hunger strike for MSR’s release since March 29), Lahore

I.A. Rehman, journalist, former editor Pakistan Times, former director HRCP

Iftikhar Arif, poet

Kamran Khan, journalist, Dunya News

Kishwar Naheed, poet, former head PNCA, Islamabad

Dr. Mehdi Hasan, Chairperson HRCP

Mohammad Hanif, author and journalist

Munizae Jahangir, journalist, VoicePk.net

Owais Aslam Ali, Chairman Pakistan Press International (PPI)

Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist

Pirzada Qasim, poet and scholar

Saleem Asmi, former Editor, Dawn

Zohra Yusuf, former Editor Star Weekend; former Chair HRCP

Media and human rights bodies

Amnesty International

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE)

Human Rights Commisson of Pakistan (HRCP)

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN)/Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative