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Hamid Mir

Hamid Mir
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Hamid Mir is a Pakistani journalist, news anchor and an author. Born in Lahore to a journalistic family, Mir initially worked as a journalist with Pakistani newspapers, and hosted the political talk show Capital Talk on Geo News. Now Mir has joined GNN News. He writes columns for Urdu as well as English newspapers, both national and international.

Mir interviewed 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.

He was awarded with the civil award Hilal-i-Imtiaz for this work. 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 his work as a news anchor.

Personal life
Hamid Mir was born in Lahore, Punjab, in July 1966. He completed his secondary education from 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 was Mir Abdul Aziz from Sialkot. Mir's father, professor Waris Mir, was also a columnist for Daily Jang.

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. 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 spent sometime outside of the country because of security issues.

Journalistic career
Mir joined the Daily Jang (Lahore) in 1987 and worked there as sub-editor, reporter, feature writer and edition in charge. 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. In 1994, he broke the submarines purchase scandal. 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 from daily Jang 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 where he begin hosting a political talk show Capital Talk. His popularity increased as Geo became one of the popular TV channel in Pakistan where Pakistani politicians, both from the ruling and oppositions parties appeared to debate on current events and controversial topics.

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.[18] 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, then President, Pervez Musharraf apologised to Mir in his show after few hours of the attack. Mir was banned by PEMRA in November 2007 for four months to appear on TV. Mir came on roads after the ban and organised street shows. The Washington Post published an 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 did investigative documentary on the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto aired on Geo TV on 23 December 2008.

He appears on CNN, BBC and Indian channels as an analyst on issues related to Pakistan. 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 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. Later on Usman Punjabi was killed by Taliban. According to Der Spiegel Mir is popular journalist in Pakistan. In 2015, Washington Post called Mir as "Pakistan's most famous TV journalist who lives like a fugitive".

In December 2011, Mir received death threats after he hosted a TV show on Influence of ISI in Pakistani politics. He reportedly left Geo TV on July 10, 2018 and joined GNN News.

Mir visited Bajour tribal area in January 2006 after a US missile attack in Damadola village. He claimed 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.

Awards and recognition
  • Awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz on 14 August 2012 for his services in Journalism by the PPP government under President Zardari.
  • Awarded 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 claimed 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.

Mir has been repeatedly accused of being pro-Taliban. Taliban sympathizers accuse him of being a CIA agent. The Taliban allegedly planted a bomb under his car which was later defused due to his coverage of Malala Yousufzai assassination attempt. He was labeled Indian agent after he invited Pervez Hoodbhoy in his program. There was an outcry next day in certain sections of Urdu press that two Indian agents were sitting on Geo TV.

Some people say that he is too hard on the US. He treated Pakistani Information Minister very roughly in his show on the US drone attacks.

The US Ambassador in Pakistan wrote a letter to the Geo TV management in September 2009 complaining about Mir on incorrect reporting.

Assassination attempts
Mir has been the target of death threats and at least two assassination attempts due to his reporting on 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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