About Amir Mir
Amir Mir is a veteran Pakistani journalist known for his research work on Islamic militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. He has authored several research-oriented books including “Talibanization of Pakistan: From 9/11 to 26/11,” “The Bhutto Murder Trail: From Waziristan to GHQ,” “The True Face of Jehadis: Inside Pakistan’s Network of Terror” and “The Fluttering Flag of Jehad.” Having commanded two mainstream Urdu news channels in the past – GNN (G News Network) and JAAG Television as Chief Operating Officer (COO), he is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Googlynews.TV- a Digital Media Project – consisting of a web newspaper and a television channel. He had also been the founding Group Editor of Daily Dunya (an Urdu Newspaper) and the founding Editor of Weekly Independent (an English News Magazine).
Mir’s paternal grandfather, Mir Abdul Aziz, was a teacher and poet of the Urdu, Punjabi and Persian languages. His father, Prof. Waris Mir, was a top flight Urdu writer and analyst of his times (1938-1987) who chose to take the road that most of his contemporary journalists did not dare to take, especially during the Martial Law period of General Ziaul Haq. Prof Waris Mir is recognized for his courageous struggle to uphold the cause of democracy, press freedom and the women rights through his bold writings during the dictatorial era of General Zia, which had been the most turbulent period of Pakistan’s political history. He was a columnist with the Daily Nawa-e-Waqt, Daily Jang as well as a teacher and Head of Department of the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) at the University of the Punjab in Lahore.
Having started his journalistic career in 1988 with the English daily The Frontier Post, Amir Mir has worked with numerous newspaper groups in Pakistan and abroad: The News, The Nation, The Friday Times, Weekly Independent, Herald, Newsline, Reuters, Spanish News Agency, Gulf News, Arab News, Weekly Outlook, Weekly Tehelka, Daily News & Analysis, Rediff.com, Inter Press Service, and Asia Times Online. Amir Mir graduated from Government College University in Lahore with majors in Political Science, Sociology and Psychology. He started his career as a reporter while studying for a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Punjab Lahore in 1989 at 20 years of age. In 1993, he became a team member of the Jang Group of Newspaper’s English daily, The News International, and worked as a team member of the News Bureau of Investigation. Till 2001, along with The News, Mir also wrote for various publications both in and outside Pakistan such as the Inter Press Service, the Straits Times, the Gulf News and weekly The Friday Times and Monthly Newsline.
Amir Mir had been an outspoken critic of the former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, because of the latter’s being a military dictator having violated Pakistan’s constitution twice. In early 2001, Amir Mir left daily The News, Weekly The Friday Times and other publications to launch an English news magazine, Weekly Independent, as the project director cum editor. The weekly had a clear stated policy – Truth reigns Supreme. In one of his editorials for Weekly Independent, when multiple problems were being churned out for the paper by the then President General Pervez Musharraf’s henchmen, Mir wrote, “The Magazine has already spelled out its editorial policy, saying: Weekly Independent has been critical of Musharraf’s dictatorial policies in so far as these have weakened democratic institutions. This publication has demanded the repeal of the controversial constitutional amendment, advocated supremacy of the parliament and opposed attempts to impose a personal rule. The Weekly has further exposed the acts of commission and omission that have strengthened extremist tendencies which have taken a heavy toll on life, tattered the social fabric and isolated the country internationally. It has also exposed corruption and misuse of authority by those in power which is one of the vital functions of the independent press, particularly so in the Third World countries. In view of its principled stance thus, Weekly Independent asks the Musharraf regime to define its policy about those sponsoring the moves aimed at injuring the press and pressing the media to act in line with the military government’s policies.” (Weekly Independent May 15, 2003)
But things went from bad to worse, causing immense problems for the management of the Weekly, especially after the proprietor of the publication was abducted and was asked to get rid of Amir Mir to secure his release. And Mir had to quit the same day to ensure that the proprietor is released. While penning down his last editorial for Weekly Independent on June 12, 2003 titled “Principles are Supreme”, Mir wrote: “When we launched Weekly Independent on August 3, 2001, we vowed to make the journal a guardian of the people’s rights. This meant defending fledgling democracy in Pakistan from onslaughts of the mighty military establishment, always waiting in the wings to derail it, and at the same time exposing corruption and nepotism on the part of the high and mighty military rulers. The independent policy of the Weekly was bound to invite the establishment’s wrath which soon made it clear that the publication could not get its due quota of the government advertisement unless it stopped carrying news reports and comments that embarrassed the military regime of an illegal, unconstitutional and self-appointed President General Pervez Musharraf]. But refusing to yield on principles, the paper continued to criticise the undue involvement of the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] in national politics. The establishment’s pressure on the Weekly subsequently assumed the form of intimidatory tactics”.
The editorial went on to state: “In March this year, the regime redoubled its moves to harass the editorial staff as well as the chief executive of the paper. The home secretary Punjab, Brigadier Ejaz Hussain Shah [who is a former chief of the Punjab chapter of ISI] called the Chief Executive and told him to roll-back operations of the paper immediately if he wanted to stay in business and stay safe. Similar threats were conveyed to the editorial staff. The matter was brought to the notice of the national and international journalist organisations. Strong protests by the journalist community put the regime on the defensive and direct intimidation was suspended for the time being. However, more devious ways to throttle the paper were adopted. But the Weekly refused to bargain on its independent policy position and continued to oppose anti-democracy measures being taken by the first ever commando President of the country. The paper pleaded editorially for national reconciliation by allowing the exiled political leadership to return to the country in safety and without any fear of further intimidation. As the Weekly refused to change its independent editorial policy by toeing the establishment’s line, the regime decided to launch a fresh assault against the editorial staff and the proprietor”.
The editorial added: “We would like to inform our readers that Weekly Independent is under tremendous pressure from the Musharraf regime, though its resolve to stick to an independent policy remains unshaken. In a country where Army dominates the polity, and officials of the security agencies telephone editors and financiers to tell them what their publications should or should not contain, publishing a journal with an independent and honest approach is no easy job. Anyone dedicated to the ideals of our founding fathers who wanted to see Pakistan as a modern democratic state, with the Army being subservient to the elected Parliament, would endorse our editorial policy. We have tried our best to maintain independence of the Weekly, and would continue to withstand the pressure of the Musharraf regime as long as we are allowed to pursue an independent policy”.
In July 2003, Amir Mir joined Monthly Herald of Dawn Group of Newspaper as Senior Assistant Editor. As the Musharraf regime stepped up its anti-media drive, some armed persons in plain cloths attacked Amir Mir’s residence in Lahore on November 22, 2003 and set ablaze his car outside his residence, accompanied by aerial firing. When he was declared the best investigative journalist of Pakistan in 2005 by the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Mir refused to receive the APNS award as it was to be presented to him by Musharraf at an award giving ceremony in Islamabad. He also criticised the APNS for inviting a military dictator as chief guest of the ceremony, maintaining that he had no respect for media freedom. Groaning under Musharraf’s pressure, the APNS eventually confiscated the best investigative journalist award. Mir’s stint with the Monthly could only last for two years – till June 2005, when he was asked by the management to resign because the organisation was under ‘immense pressure’ from the Musharraf regime to get rid of him.
Mir was left with no other option but to look for a writing job with a foreign publication since no Pakistani media group was willing to hire him for fear of the Musharraf regime. This began his jobs with the Reuters (UK), Gulf News (UAE), Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Spanish News Agency (EFE), Inter Press Service (Philippines) and Weekly Tehelka and Daily News & Analysis (India). It might come as a surprise to many that right after the Musharraf regime was weakened in the aftermath of the 2008 General Elections which his party had lost, Mir was asked by the management of the biggest media conglomerate in Pakistan, the Jang Group of Newspapers, to rejoin The News Lahore as Deputy Editor and Editor Investigation.
Four years later, in June 2012, Amir Mir joined Dunya Media Group as the founding Group Editor of an Urdu Newspaper — Daily Dunya, which was launched in September 2012. But he had to leave that organisation too because of the policy differences with the management. Mir went back to The News the as Deputy Editor and Editor Investigation. But he decided to leave his job two years [in 2015] later when restrictions were imposed on his writing, following a fatal murder attempt on his elder brother and renowned television anchor, Hamid Mir, in Karachi and Amir’s subsequent outburst against a powerful intelligence agency whose chief was named in the attack. In 2016, Mir took up an electronic media project when he became the Chief Operating Officer of a Karachi-based Urdu news channel – JAAG TV. In 2017, Mir was tasked to rename and re-launch the JAAG TV from Lahore. He subsequently launched G News Network (GNN) on August 14, 2018 which became an instant hit in the media industry.
However, Amir Mir decided to quit GNN in May 2019 after developing serious policy differences with the TV channel management. He was of the view that the channel should keep following its mission statement of sticking to old fashioned and seasoned professionalism besides pursuing the golden rule of media – to bring the truth in its barest form to the people and let them decide who is a ‘hero’ and who isn’t. Mir wrote in his resignation letter addressed to his team members: “Having worked together with some of the finest and most talented people in the Pakistani media industry, I am leaving this organisation with a heavy heart. It was a wonderful experience working with all of you in a professional atmosphere. I will greatly miss each and every one of you since without the contribution of each one of you, it would have been impossible to make GNN an instant hit and a success story in the Pakistani media industry. Leaving the GNN family was a tough decision to make. However, I am leaving you with this satisfaction that the Team GNN has positively contributed to the Pakistani media industry by launching a professionally sound, credible and successful news channel. To me, journalism is not a job but a sacred mission which is incomplete without passion. I strongly believe that the soul of journalism is professional integrity and I cannot compromise when it comes to principles. As they say, the world is a small place and the media world even smaller. Hence, it’s a farewell from here till we meet again”.
In June 2019, Amir Mir launched a Digital Media Project- Googlynews.TV, with ‘The Uncensored Media’ as its motto. Googly News.tv is an independent digital media platform of professionals who are determined to ensure uncensored journalism. The Googly editorial board believes that in these times of ‘voluntary’ and ‘forced’ media blackouts by Pakistani television channels and newspapers, the masses need to know what is happening around them. The Googly team feels that freedom has just one responsibility, that is, to be truthful because truthfulness, brings about an aura of justice, equality and transparency.
Amir Mir has so far authored four research-based books in English on the subject of Islamic militancy and terrorism. While his first book – “The True Face of Jehadis: Inside Pakistan’s Network of Terror” – was published by the Lahore-based Mashal Books in 2006, its Indian edition was published by New Delhi-based Roli Books the same year. The Japanese edition got into print in 2008 by Tokyo-based The English Agency. The second book – “The Fluttering Flag of Jehad”- was also published by the Mashal Books in 2008. The third book – “Talibanization of Pakistan: From 9/11 to 26/11” was published by New Delhi-based Pentagon Press in 2009. The fourth book – “The Bhutto Murder Trail: From Waziristan to GHQ” – was published in 2010 by New Delhi-based Tranquebar Press, both in English and Hindi. Much before that, Amir Mir had co-authored – “Most Wanted: Profiles of Terror”– published by the Roli Books in 2002, in addition to writing foreword to another book “A to Z of Jehadi Organizations”, published by the Mashal Books in 2004.