Mir Ibrahim Rahman
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|Mir Ibrahim Rahman|
|Born||Mir Ibrahim Rahman
|Occupation||Co-founder and CEO of Geo TV (2002–current)|
|Board member of||Mir Khalil ur Rahman Foundation|
|Awards||Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service|
Born in Karachi to media mogul Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Rahman studied at the Karachi American School and moved to the United States, where he received his BBA degree from Babson College in 2000. In the U.S., he started his career as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs. In 2002, he returned to Pakistan and joined his family media business and subsequently launched Pakistan's first private news channel in the fall of 2002. In 2009, he returned to the U.S and received his Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2010.
He is the recipient of Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service for his contribution towards the Lawyers' Movement. He was named World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders in 2011.
Mir Ibrahim Rahman belongs to a prominent media family. He is the eldest son of the media mogul and philanthropist Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and the grandson of newspaper magnate Mir Khalil ur Rehman. His father owns Jang Group, the largest group of newspapers in Pakistan.
Rahman met and married Sheena Hadi while both of them were studying at Harvard. Rahman and Hadi have a daughter named Asha. Hadi is the director of Aahung, an NGO for women and children's rights.
Education and early career
In 2000, Rahman graduated summa cum laude from Babson College with honours in economics, finance and entrepreneurship. After his graduation, he worked as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs specialising in media and telecom. After a brief stint with the investment banking and securities firm, he returned to Pakistan in 2002.
Until 2002, the electronic media in Pakistan was largely dominated by state-owned institutions like Pakistan Television Corporation and the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. This monopoly was thwarted when the Musharraf regime regulated electronic media allowing for private television channels to be operated independently. It was during this liberalisation of the media in Pakistan that Rahman saw an opportunity to expand his family business.
In 2002, he co-founded the privately owned television network, Geo TV. What started as a 5-member operation out of a hotel room turned into one of largest television broadcast networks in Pakistan. Geo TV was later recognised as a pertinent driver of change in the media landscape of the country. "Geo has changed Pakistan's media landscape, consistently challenging the monopoly-and monotony of state-run Pakistan Television, or PTV." "For the first time, analysts say, television in Pakistan is reflecting this predominantly Muslim country's diverse society and offering an independent source of news." Rahman has since served as the CEO of the television network that now employs more than 2,500 workers panning the globe.
In 2009, he joined the Harvard University John F Kennedy School of Government while pursuing his master's degree in public administration. He later had to take a sabbatical alongside his wife Sheena following her pregnancy. Sheena was also a fellow Harvard alumni pursuing her master's degree in education. Rahman also serves as a member of the Young presidents' Organization in Pakistan, a charter member of the Indus Entrepreneur and the director of Mir Khalil ur Rahman Foundation.
Awards and recognition
In 2010, Rahman and his television network were recognised for their "contribution in the historical Lawyers' Movement that revived independent judiciary in Pakistan". He became the first Muslim and the second South Asian to receive the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service from the Harvard Kennedy School recognising signs of future potential leadership and a deep commitment to public service.
Rahman has been lauded for his network's efforts in promoting peace between India and Pakistan and other ground breaking work that helps the overcoming of differences in religion, culture and ethnicity.
Mir was also given the Lucius N. Littauer Award, given to members of the graduating class that excelled in the classroom and made a significant positive contribution to the Kennedy School community. Mir was acknowledged for representing his class in the Kennedy Student Government, as well as organising several key seminars and being on the Advisory Board for Harvard’s South Asia Initiative. Mir was the rare student to also serve in Harvard’s prestigious Admissions Committee, which is staffed usually by only senior most Professors. The Co-founder and CEO of GEO TV Network, and has been on a sabbatical for a year at Harvard to complete his Masters in Public Administration, where he has also researched and written a thesis on Pakistan’s potential, titled: Reason to Believe- Finding A New Public Narrative for Pakistan.
Profile of some initiatives
“Zara Sochieye”  (Just Think!) led a wave of debate on the controversial Hudood Ordinances, a set of laws passed without debate by the dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, enacted in 1977, equating rape with adultery. GEO's campaign, clarified the difference between man-made laws and divine law that the Hudood Ordinances was deliberately associated with. The campaign included testimony and unprecedented debate between the main liberal and conservative religious forces in the country and was credited to be the tipping point that led the Government to finally amend the ordinances. After much controversy and criticism from the Pakistani public, parts of the 1977 law were extensively revised in a 2006 amendment, called Women's Protection Bill by the Pakistani Parliament.
Under Mir's supervision, GeoFilms launched its first films project titled Khuda Kay Liye (2007 film) which literally means 'In the Name of God' (2007 film) against whom a fatwa was issued by the terrorist leader of the Red Mosque, Islamabad. The project not only became Pakistani film industry's biggest blockbuster but also prompted much needed dialogue and discussion facing Islam and Pakistan today.
GEO Network has been known to take on daring projects, including supporting the cause for justice, which created a tussle with the previous military and current civilian government. All of GEO's channels were shut down for almost 90 days, creating a net revenue loss of over $25 million. Most political analysts have been quoted to confirm GEO's role was unique in the country's historic independent judiciary movement and the eventual restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
GEO took the daring lead in showcasing Taliban version of Islam by releasing footage of public violence against women and men who have not gone through due process, exposing it's hypocrisy as GEO supports drones that too murder individuals without due process. Footage includes the now infamous video of the flogging of a screaming woman pinned down by two men as well as Taliban recruitment footage of beheadings, including some by children, which turned out to be a fake video for which Geo TV was criticised a lot. Many analysts credit the Pakistani media, led by GEO, for changing the tide of public opinion that made Swat operation possible.
GEO and Jang Group have also recently announced their partnership with Times of India Group to launch a civilian peace initiative with India. The two largest and most influential media groups of Pakistan and India have committed to providing a platform where their audiences, readers and civil society can nudge their respective government to move towards lasting and fair peace so that valuable resources of both countries can be directed towards development and progress.
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