PFUJ Demands the release of Rehmat Shah Afridi(APP)

PFUJ Demands the release of Rehmat Shah Afridi(APP)

ISLAMABAD, Apr 18 (APP): Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Friday demanded release of chief editor of The Frontier Post, Rehmat Shah Afridi, who has served 10-years imprisonment in a controversial drug case registered against him in the 90s, the longest term served by any journalist in Pakistan.

“Afridi has served more than a life term in a controversial case and his health has deteriorated over the years and deserve better treatment,” PFUJ said in a statement.

Afridi had denied the charges and stated that he become the victim because of his newspaper’s independent policies and corruption stories of influential people.

PFUJ said over the years influential people suspected in much more serious offences were either released on indefinite parole or freed due to political influence, Afridi was not even given “fair trial.”

Secretary General PFUJ Mazhar Abbas said though his newspaper (The Frontier Post) suffered a lot, both financially and otherwise but still in circulation in Peshawar and he wanted to continue his profession.

Mazhar Abbas said the PFUJ in the past had condemned his arrest.”

Below is the message by Rehmat Shah Afridi in 2001 published by Information Times

SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM REHMAT SHAH AFRIDI

Editor-in-Chief, The Frontier Post, Pakistan’s national daily
newspaper
FP: http://www.frontierpost.com.pk

A Solemn Pledge

by REHMAT SHAH AFRIDI

DEATH CELL, Camp Jail, Lahore, Pakistan, 1 July 2001
(InfoTimes): Having unshakable belief that life and death is in
the hands of God Almighty, I am sure that ultimate justice will
be done to me by Ahkam-ul-Haakimeen.

My hands are clean, conscience clear.

I have committed no sin except propagation of “Amr-e-Bil
Maaroof” and “Nahi-e-Anil Munker” to expose the corrupt
practices of the people at the helm and reform society.

I renew my pledge to leave no stone unturned and no gallow
unkissed to hold aloft the banner of freedom of press and
honesty, devotion and diligence in discharge of my professional
duty and in service of the Pakistani nation.

Alhamd-u-Lillah! Your esteemed daily, The Frontier Post, is
today again in your hands after a lapse of 152 days and I feel
beholden by the sense of profound pride for having been
privileged with a rare and unique opportunity to directly
address you from the death cell of Camp Jail, Lahore,
[Pakistan], through the first issue of the re-launched daily.

The expression of sentiments of sympathy, support, sincerity and
fortitude during all this arduous period is and shall remain a
real asset for me and my colleagues in the organization and I
find no words to express my gratitude to you.

As you are aware, a tragedy struck The Frontier Post on January
29, 2001 leading to suspension of its publication in the
aftermath of sealing of its offices and printing press.

The mystery shrouding the unfortunate incident is still to be
unraveled.

Whether it was a deliberate attempt to damage and destroy our
news media organization, to create trouble for the Pakistan
Government by disturbing the law and order situation, to
destabilize the country or to impede the march of the Ummah
(Muslim Nation) on its way to unity, progress and prosperity, on
the part of some internal elements or in conjunction with
external anti-Islam forces? It is the onerous duty of the law
enforcing and investigation agencies to resolve the dilemma,
expose the real culprit or culprits and bring them to justice.

Having said this, I find myself unable to express my opinion
about the circumstances leading to the tragic incident of
January 29, 2001.

However, I don’t find myself handicapped in expressing my inner
feelings on the episode.

I am confident every reader of The Frontier Post, conversant
with my services and the background and services of my family
and both of my newspapers, will come to the conclusion that the
impugned letter on January 29, 2001 found space in the columns
of The Frontier Post seemingly through some conspiracy, with its
origins in the abortive attempt of April 3, 2000 to get the
publication of The Frontier Post suspended.

The conspirators behind the ugly incident of January 29, 2001,
no doubt having leanings and links with anti-Islam and
anti-Pakistan forces, selected the target after careful thought
and at an opportune moment.

They had their hands on the trigger and fired after having
assured that the target would not be missed.

As the target was hit, the bullet tore the body of the whole
Ummah, particularly the proud people of NWFP who found their
hearts bleeding profusely.

I was away from jail and admitted in a hospital for medical
tests and treatment on the day of the occurrence.

By God, believe it, I found the arteries of my heart choked and
bled having learnt of the incident.

I directed from my bed in hospital to immediately pinpoint the
person or persons responsible for the episode and to make sure
that the responsible person or persons were brought to justice.

We offered our heartfelt apology to the Ummah, expressed
repentance and begged mercy and forgiveness of Allah through
advertisements published prominently in the leading national
dailies of the next morning.

In spite of having been behind bars and on a sick-bed in the
hospital, I arranged to have personal contacts with renowned
Ulema (Islamic scholars) and sent my emissaries to inform them
about the conspiracy.

It may not seem impertinent to point towards the fact, in the
context of the events of the period from April 3, 2000 to
January 29, 2001, that some persons, hostage of business
orientation after purchasing a “gold mine” virtually in pennies,
engaged in “mining” on a large scale and waiting on the shores
for an opportunity to swim and get down to the bedrock of the
sea to grab diamonds, were said to have been in the forefront to
spray salt on the wounds of the Ummah already bleeding due to
the inadvertent publication of a highly blasphemous letter in
The Frontier Post.

It was being given to understand that the hand behind all the
ugly events was of a self-styled pious, arrogant person included
in the gang of these fellows.

God knows better.

It has also been said that the unholy letter of January 29,
2001, which got space on the Editorial Page of The Frontier Post
in the column “Your Letters”, was sent from within the country
in the garb of some American-born Jew by using a fake name.

Then it was ensured that the letter got space on the pages of
the newspaper when no senior staff member was present on duty in
the concerned section.

The same hidden hand was stated to be behind the earlier aborted
conspiracy of April 3, 2000 as well, hatched to get the
publication of The Frontier Post suspended.

The fact that all the striking employees of The Frontier Post
were rewarded, showered bounties and accommodated on inflated
salaries the same day in the paper of the hidden hand was
reflective of the existence of the conspiratorial role of the
said person.

The priest-faced magician was conveniently made to disappear
through mutual understanding from the scene just a few days
before the incident, and reappeared on the stage after the dust
had settled down.

Though the one-member tribunal headed by Mr. Justice Qaim Jan in
its inquiry report has briefly mentioned this aspect along with
others of the episode, it cannot be denied that the inquiry
report leaves behind an impression of being incomplete as
regards certain important aspects of the case.

I deem it my moral, national and religious responsibility to
demand that the administration and the investigating agencies
should try to dig deep in order to get access to the real facts
and the culprits be brought to book in the light of the
conclusions drawn in the report.

I dislike self-praise and therefore don’t find myself inclined
to dilate upon the services rendered by me and my family with
respect to my dedication to Islam and Pakistan.

The revered readers of my newspapers, The Frontier Post and Urdu
daily Maidan, are well aware of the services rendered by me and
my family for the cause of freedom movement in Jammu and
Kashmir, Afghan Jehad, glory and propagation of Islam, and
uplift of the Muslim Nation.

The history of ups and downs in the life of The Frontier Post is
evident of the valiant struggle waged by the newspaper for the
glory of Islam, to rid the oppressed and Muslims in various
regions of the world, including Kashmir, Afghanistan, Palestine,
Bosnia and Chechniya, of the yoke of oppression and subjugation.

This role of mine and my papers was an eyesore for the Troika of
Imperialists and their puppets in the country having eternal
enmity with Islam and Pakistan.

I am proud of never letting material benefits impede my way in
playing the destined role with honesty and diligence.

Rather I always endeavoured to perform my duty with full
devotion and dedication by rejecting with contempt all
inducements and continued to move forward with fortitude on the
way to accomplishment of my mission, and I bow my head in
gratitude that Allah (God) gave me strength to do that.

I faced smilingly all the trials and tribulations during the
journey, embraced problems and difficulties, and never
complained of being inflicted with victimization.

Dear readers! Believe it! Had I bowed my head before the rulers
of the day, compromising on principles and freedom of the press,
my position would not have been after the opening batsman in the
batting order of the team of fortune seekers showered with
permits, plots, factories and even cash worth billions of
rupees.

The witnesses to this fact are by the grace of God still alive,
who will bear me out that each and every ruler from General Zia
to Nawaz Sharif tried their best to get me entangled in the nest
of incentives and inducements by offering me high public office,
elevated positions and huge material benefits.

But I would have never dared enter the profession of journalism
if I had worldly office and honor dear to me.

I would have opted to leave the profession gracefully, rather
than be found rolling in wealth alongside my contemporaries.

I consider journalism a sacred and noble profession.

Journalists are shouldered with the responsibility of exposing
corruption and corrupt practices, guiding the nation on the
right path and steering the ship to shore.

It can never be expected of me to term night as day and black as
white.

I have unshakable faith in “Iyyak a Nastaeen” (seek help but
only from Allah) and truthfulness of my mission.

I never liked to be included in the line of people bowing their
head before the ruler, with a bowl hanging round their neck.

I have always tried to participate in Jehad (war against all
evils) by remaining in the forefront to hold aloft the right to
expression and press freedom.

That is why my newspapers, in spite of having vast readership
and wide circulation, had always earned the ire of every
government and am myself languishing in a condemned prisoners’
cell.

I am not afraid of rendering any sacrifice on the way to
accomplishment of my sacred mission, but I vow not to bow my
head to compromise on principles.

I pray to God to give me strength and fortitude to remain
steadfast on this path littered with barbed wires all around.

I do admit that my newspapers are forced to swim in turbulent
waters but the fact of the matter is that this is not something
rare for persons wedded to honesty and truthfulness and who are
sincere to their mission.

I am proud of having the company of the colleagues who have
always marched shoulder to shoulder with me in the hour of
trauma, turmoil and acute financial crisis.

There are some colleagues who did not feel hesitant in selling
or mortgaging their lifelong belongings and even jewelry of
their family, but did not leave me alone.

I am proud of such colleagues and thankful to God for bestowing
me with the company of such friends and well-wishers.

I am sure no other industrial or commercial organization can
boast of having the services of such workers.

I am confident that the period of trial will soon come to an
end.

The liars, hypocrites and those trying to put others’ homes on
fire will be doomed and meet their fate.

The truth will triumph, Insha Allah! At this juncture, I feel it
is my duty to thank all those who, by taking timely and correct
steps and actions, succeeded in controlling the situation after
the incident of January 29, 2001 and preventing the provocation
from spreading and creating unrest.

Amongst these notably are President General Pervez Musharraf,
Governor NWFP Lt. General (R) Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the
then Corps Commander Peshawar Lt. General Imtiaz Shaheen, the
President’s Press Secretary and Director-General ISPR
Major-General Rashid Qureshi, Federal Information Secretary
Anwar Mahmood and the provincial administration.

Not to praise these steps and actions would be unjust.

I would also like to place on record my appreciation for the
role played by the Ulema and leaders of religious parties in
handling this delicate matter with wisdom and helping to calm
the situation.

In particular, I wish to thank Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Ameer
Jamaat-e-Islami; Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Ameer
Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam (F); Maulana Samiul Haq, Ameer
Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam (S); Allama Sajid Naqvi, chief of
Tehrik-e-Jaffria; General (R) Hamid Gul; Professor Mohammad
Ibrahim, Ameer JI NWFP; Maulana Amanullah Khan, Ameer JUI NWFP,
Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, Secretary JUI NWFP; Qazi Fayyazur
Rehman Alvi, and other Ulema-i-Karaam, who all helped to pour
oil on troubled waters.

I wish to express my special gratitude to my fellow newspaper
owners, journalists and newspaper employees and their
representative organizations, APNS, CPNE, PFUJ, APNEC, Peshawar
Press Club, Khyber Union of Journalists and the Newspaper
Hawkers Union NWFP for their unstinting support to us during
these difficult times.

It is because of all this support and help that The Frontier
Post has once again become capable of appearing before you.

I wish to assure all our readers that with Allah’s help and
blessings, and your continuing support and cooperation, having
once again found our feet after the trauma and sadness of days
past, we will steadfastly and sincerely serve the nation and the
country.

We will continue to uphold the best traditions of independent
journalism and never shrink from speaking the truth.

I pray to Allah Almighty to forgive our sins, those of which we
are actually guilty and those of which we are not, give us the
courage to serve Islam, Pakistan and the Muslim Ummah sincerely
and with devotion, and never let our banners on which these
principles are emblazoned, ever waver, no matter how strong the
opposing wind.

Amen!

[Publisher: Information Times
http://www.InformationTimes.com
America’s international daily Internet newspaper
Chief Editor: Syed Adeeb – Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Copyright © 2001 Information Times. All Rights Reserved.]

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