23 July 1966 |
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
|Education||Masters in Mass Communication|
|Alma mater||University of Punjab
Government College University
|Notable work||Interviewed Osama bin Laden three times|
|Title||Executive Editor Geo News|
|Children||1 son, 1 daughter|
|Relatives||Amir Mir (brother)|
Hamid Mir (Urdu: حامد مير) (born 23 July 1966) is a Pakistani journalist, security expert, war correspondent, news anchor, and an author. Born in Lahore to a journalistic family, Mir initially worked as a journalist with numerous mainstream Pakistani newspapers, and currently hosts the political talk show Capital Talk on Geo News. He writes columns for Urdu as well English newspapers, both national and international. During the military government of Pervez Musharraf in 2007, Mir was banned from appearing in Pakistani television, and later by the Zardari administration in June 2008.
Mir became internationally known due to his interviews with Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks. During his career, Mir also interviewed various world leaders such as John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela and Shimon Peres. He has also interviewed celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan.
For his best support work he was awarded with the civil award Hilal-i-Imtiaz. In 2015, Mir was described by The Washington Post as "the most famous television journalist in Pakistan who lives like a fugitive". In 2016, he was awarded Free Press Award in the “Most Resilient Journalist Award” category. In 2017, he was awarded the lifetime achievement award by Zafarullah Khan Jamali for being a noted news anchor.
Hamid Mir was born in Lahore, Punjab, in July 1966. He studied and completed his secondary education at University Laboratory School New Campus and Government Central Model School, Lahore. He received his intermediate degree from Government College of Science and his Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree from Government College. He earned his Master of Arts (M.A) in mass communications from the University of Punjab in 1989. He played cricket but left the sport after the sudden death of his father.
Mir belongs to a literary and journalistic family. His grandfather, Mir Abdul Aziz was an Urdu, Persian, and Punjabi language poet from Sialkot. Mir's father, professor Waris Mir, was also a columnist for Daily Jang and a critic of military dictator general Ziaul Haq, for which he was removed from the chairmanship of the Mass Communication Department of the University in the 1980s.
According to Mir, his mother lost her whole family during migration from Jammu to Pakistan in 1947 after the independence in 1947. Her brothers were killed by Hindu rioters in front of her eyes. Her mother was kidnapped and she saved her life by hiding under the dead bodies of her own relatives.
His father died on 9 July 1987 under mysterious circumstances at the age of 48; it has been alleged that he was poisoned by the military regime. Mir entered the field of journalism immediately after the death of his father. Mir has three brothers, two are also journalists. Amir Mir and Imran Mir. Mir's wife worked with Pakistan television and for a private television channel for many years. The couple has two children. His children and wife were forced to spend at least three months outside Pakistan from May 2007 to July 2007 for security reasons.
Mir joined the Daily Jang (Lahore) in 1987 and worked there as sub-editor, reporter, feature writer and edition in charge, earning $15 a month. At age 24 in 1990, Mir was abducted, beaten and driven to a house where his captors demanded to know his source for the critical story he wrote when then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan was planning to dismiss the Bhutto government. Later, he joined Daily Jang and in 1994, he broke the submarines purchase scandal in Daily Jang. Some close friends of Asif Zardari (husband of then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto) were involved in that scandal, along with some Navy officials. Mir lost his job the day his article was published.
In 1996, Mir became the editor of the Daily Pakistan in Islamabad, making him the youngest editor of any national Urdu newspaper in the history of Pakistani journalism. He lost his job again in 1997, when he wrote an article in the Daily Pakistan about the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Also on 25 December 1997, he launched Daily Ausaf (Islamabad) as founding editor.
Mir went to eastern Afghanistan, where he investigated the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora mountains in December 2001. Mir visited the caves of bin Laden, during the American bombing. Mir also disclosed that it was U.S.-backed Northern Alliance leader Hazrat Ali who provided safe passage to bin Laden after getting a huge bribe.
In 2002, Mir joined GEO TV as the Northern Region editor. Since November 2002, he has hosted Geo Tv's Capital Talk, a political talk show in which top Pakistani politicians from the government and opposition have appeared. Mir popularity soared as Geo grew into one of the most-watched networks in the country. Presidents, ambassadors and ministers sought to be on “Capital Talk”.
He is also writing a biography of Osama bin Laden, as well as a weekly column in Daily Jang.
He has interviewed Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair and L K Advani. Mir was arrested by Hezbullah in Beirut during Israel-Lebanon war in July 2006 while trying to cover the scenes of Israeli jets bombing on Beirut, but was later set free after Hezbullah was assured that he was not an Israeli spy.
On 16 March 2007, during live coverage of the lawyers' protest against the suspension of the Chief Justice of Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Mir was attacked by police at his Islamabad office. Later the then President, Pervez Musharraf apologised to Mir in his live TV show Capital Talk within few hours of the attack. Mir was banned by General Pervez Musharraf in November 2007 for four months on Geo News network. Mir came on roads after the ban and organised street shows. He became famous after staging shows on the roads, gathering huge crowds. The Washington Post published a front-page article on his show on the roads. He was again banned by the government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in June 2008 for a few days on Geo News. His investigative documentary on the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto aired on Geo TV on 23 December 2008, and created considerable controversy in Pakistan.
Mir has participated in many international seminars and conferences on terrorism. He appears often on CNN, BBC and many Indian channels as a security analyst. Mir claimed in an interview with independent online news source Canada Free Press that al-Qaeda had acquired three so called 'suitcase nukes' from Russia, and had successfully smuggled them to Europe. Mir alleges these weapons have been in the possession of al-Qaeda since long before the September 11 attacks, and that they were originally intended to be targeted against London, Paris and California. Mir also claims that al-Qaeda has 23 sleeper agents inside the United States (minus the 19 who died carrying out the 9/11 attacks) and that these terrorists already have enough radioactive material for six 'dirty bombs'.
In May 2010, an audio tape of a conversation between Mir and one Usman Punjabi who was allegedly the 2nd in command of Hakimullah Mehsud surfaced. In the tape they discussed then-kidnapped Khalid Khawaja with Mir urging that he be further interrogated by his Taliban-linked captors. Khawaja was killed in April 2010 by his captors. Rashed Rahman, editor of the English-language Daily Times newspaper said "If this tape turns out to be genuine, it suggests a journalist instigated the murder of a kidnapee. A line must be drawn somewhere.". Mir has denied the authenticity of the tape "I never said these things to these people. This is a concocted tape, [..] They took my voice, sampled it and manufactured this conspiracy against me." Nothing was proved against Mir in any court. Later on Usman Punjabi was killed by Taliban.
Voice of peace
Mir became a voice of peace and objective journalism during the India–Pakistan tension created after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. Der Spiegel declared him the most popular journalist in Pakistan.
During his career he has come into conflict with the authorities and been banned or limited from reporting on several occasions:
- Mir visited Bajour tribal area in January 2006 after a US missile attack in Damadola village. He again proved that the US missiles killed only innocent children and women, not Al Qaeda militants.
- Musharraf declared Hamid Mir a Taliban sympathiser after the emergency rule of 2007 and banned him from Geo TV for more than four months. In an interview with Monthly Newsline Karachi (December 2008 issue), Mir explained his differences with Musharraf. Mir received threats from some militant groups when he wrote investigative stories on Taliban.
- In 2016, Islamabad High Court dismissed a plea for including blasphemy charge brought against Mir.
Notable papers, awards and work
- Awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz on 14 August 2012 for his services in Journalism by the PPP government under President Zardari.
- Earned an All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) award for best columnist (Urdu) for the years 1996,1997, and 1998.
- Received the Maharishi Samman Award for Excellence in Journalism announced by Trust for Media Studies, in Jodhpur, India in March 2005.
- Awarded the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal from the Ministry of Women Development, Government of Pakistan for writing and speaking in support of women's rights, in August 2005.
- Interviewed Osama Bin Laden for the Daily Pakistan in 1997, for the Daily Ausaf in 1998, and for the Daily Dawn in 2001. The latter was the first interview after 9/11 by any journalist, and the BBC and CNN declared it an international scoop. The Monthly Herald announced that interview as the scoop of the year in its annual issue of December 2001.
- On 26 March 2010, The foundation of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Writers and Literature have nominated Mir for the SAARC Lifetime Achievement Award 2010.
- In December 2011, Hamid Mir received Several Death Threats after he hosted a TV show on Influence of ISI in Pakistan Politics.
- Hamid Mir received The People’s Choice category award for the most favourite current affairs anchor and news channel in March 2012.
- On 13 April 2013, a video surfaced on social media showing Hamid Mir receiving "Friends of Liberation War Honour" award by Sheikh Hasina. The video created a minor controversy in Pakistan.
Views on Hamas
In 2009, Mir compared the Hamas and the Taliban. According to Mir, "Hamas probably have more suicide bombers than Taliban, but they are different from each other". In an article titled "Hamas builds while Taliban bomb schools", Mir wrote that both Hamas and Taliban were born in refugee camps, and both were initially encouraged by the West. Mir pointed out that some of the Hamas leaders were educated in Pakistani universities, and that many of them were part of the Afghan Jihad against the former Soviet Union, and close to Dr. Abdullah Azzam who was also a mentor of Osama bin Laden in early 80's.
At the same time, Mir states that the Hamas leaders don't want to mix their identity with Taliban or al-Qaeda, and "oppose all those who are bombing girl schools". Mir states that unlike the Taliban, Hamas never attacked girl's schools even once in last 22 years of its creation. The biggest difference between Taliban and Hamas, according to Mir, is that Hamas believe in democracy, while Taliban have no faith in democracy.
Mir has been repeatedly accused of being pro-Taliban, while some known pro-Taliban personalities accuse him of being a CIA agent. Despite the pro-Taliban accusation Hamid Mir criticised the Taliban to such an extent for the attempt to assassinate schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai that they planted a bomb under his car which was later defused. Mir has publicly stated that certain people in Pakistan have claimed that he is an Indian Agent. He commented about the response of people on one of his programs in which he invited Pervez Hoodbhoy: "There was an outcry next day in sections of Pakistan’s Urdu press that two Indian agents were sitting on Geo TV,".
Former FBI official, Paul Williams, accused Mir of being dishonest: "He has back-pedaled on statements before. This guy is capable of mendacity"  Williams was sued by McMaster University for $2 million due to his claims that Islamic terrorists managed to steal 180 lb of unspecified nuclear material from the McMaster Nuclear Reactor. The publisher of The Dunces of Doomsday, WND Books/Cumberland House Publishing, issued an apology regarding the published statements, saying that the claims were "without basis in fact." Some people say that he is too hard on the US. Recently he treated Pakistani Information Minister very roughly in his show on the US drone attacks.
He visited United States in April 2009 to deliver special lectures and talks in universities and think tanks. During this visit, he criticised the US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He proposed some long- and short-term solutions for combating terrorism in Asia Society, New York. The US Ambassador in Pakistan wrote a letter to the Geo TV management in September 2009 complaining about Mir.
According to Zaffar Abbas, editor of Dawn (newspaper). “Mir has been a controversial person in the eyes of the government, in the eyes of the security establishment, in the eyes of many other people in Pakistan. Pakistan is a highly politicized society. . . . So there are people who are his real fans in the country and there are people who regard him as sensationalist and are his opponents.”
Mir has been the target of several death threats and at least two assassination attempts due to his outspoken reporting on local terrorist networks such as Pakistan Taliban as well political parties.
In 2014, Mir was injured in a gun attack when he was attacked by unknown men on his way to the Geo office in Karachi, and shot twice. He was rushed to a hospital and operated upon, where he was declared to be out of danger.
He was also the subject of a previous attempt on his life in November 2012, when half a kilogram of explosives was placed in his car, which was successfully defused by the bomb squad. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
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