Hamid Mir — a symbol of bravery and courage

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Attack on Hamid Mir damaged press freedom

I can never forget November 26, 2012 when in the afternoon Mr. Hamid Mir called me telling that there was a bomb found installed in his car. The next thing, he quickly told me not saying further about what he was going through, but about the panelists he was interested to have in the show, and also asked me to talk to my other colleague to plan further about the live programme. His voice was not shaking when he told me that his life would have been finished had the bomb not been found. Whereas, I was dreaded and confused, so I asked him: “Sir, are you fine?” The answer was in firm and confident tone: “Yes, I am fine, don’t worry nothing has happened. You just start preparing for tonight’s show.” He didn’t talk more than this and hung the phone leaving me in a deep thought: “Could someone be braver after finding out that his life could have been ended just few minutes before?’’

It was in February 2006 when I started my career in journalism and also working with Mr. Mir, which I didn’t know would turn into such a strong bond in later years.

I have worked with Mr. Mir or Mir Sahib, as I and other colleagues would call him for seven years and during this whole time; I have never seen or witnessed anything in him and his work but professionalism. I have read different pieces written about him by his former colleagues, colleagues and friends and that’s one of the main similarities I have found in all the opinions expressed about him irrespective of all the criticism they had against him, which they also reserve as their right to express their opinion.

During my years of working with Mir Sahib, I have always witnessed his vitality to take on different issues, which could pose threats to his life, yet nothing could ever deter him to highlight those issues. That’s what kept us mobilised also as a team to search the matter and then bring the truth on the screen.

As hectic and tense, as the routine could become sometimes while working, but I and other team members had become trained by his competence and sharpness in a manner that we could perform every task under pressure and in the given time as he had already set such a refined precedent.

I always found him passionate and steadfast to give his best and doing work beyond his energy and capacity. Be it the war in Iraq, Lebanon, Chechnya, Afghanistan or the trouble in tribal areas of Pakistan, he was always there to report without fear of any threat.

His honesty, dedication and commitment with his work have always been the guidelines for me to follow beyond any doubt. Working on the designation of the executive editor, his working style and being active all the time in search of news has always reflected his strong foundation and energetic spirit of a reporter. I recall asking my colleague most of the time: “Is there a time when Mir Sahib sleeps?” I found him all the time working, moving and putting everything aside in front of his passion to search and deliver the truth. Sometimes it would be difficult to differentiate between his speed of walk and work. Not only that he himself worked with all these qualities, but he always encouraged the co-workers to build these traits too.

I still remember whenever there was a special programme, he would ask in the team meeting afterwards: “So, tell me if my intro and questions were alright?” Being his junior, I had arguments and difference of opinion with him as well, which he always valued to listen. As honest and truthful he was to his work, he always expected the same from those working with him.

His life has never been threat or risk free and I remember how intense it got after various programmes on: the missing persons, in 2012 on Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl who was charged with blasphemy, and also the series of programmes on Malala Yusufzai. Not only that, he was also concerned about my security being a Christian.

Mr. Mir is not perfect; no one can ever be. And, as I have mentioned earlier, I, like most of the others have difference of opinion with him on different matters; but the way he was targeted is definitely not the way to take out the vengeance. It is true for all other fellow journalists also who have lost their lives in the line of truth or who had to go through extreme physical torture and injuries.

Mir Sahib has shortcomings too. But, the impressions and prints on my mind and life after working with him have impacted me so much that the positive factors outweigh the negative ones.

Being injured and still having three bullets in his body can’t depict more about his vigour and audacity. “Pray for me, Lubna,” he asked me as I talked to him few days ago. His voice sounded weak because of pain, but the determination and perseverance was obvious. This is what my former colleagues described me about Mir Sahib after they met him.

It’s also true when it comes to work then Mir Sahib is not easy. The work has to be according to his desire and merit. But after working with him for seven years, I can say that all those standards and the amount of speed he had to do work with, and which he expected from his colleagues too, would make one a better professional, and certainly for one’s own professional betterment.

I still remember his words when I was going to make my first report on Jamia Hafsa for Capital Talk, he said: “The hard work always gets paid, and above all it gives you satisfaction and peace of mind.”

In his first public appearance after the attack, I am sure no one who knows him, loves him or even those who don’t like him would ever like to see him in this situation. But, it’s also the manifestation of his courage and testament to the fact that: “The saviour is greater than the killer.”

To me, he has not been the boss, a mentor, a counsellor, but also a father figure. I have learned from him so much and I owe him so much.

Those who have attacked him have just harmed him physically as they cannot do more than this. They don’t have the power to muster his voice, which he raises for those who can’t speak for themselves, nor can they snatch the pen from his hand to write the truth.

He has always highlighted the truth and no one can stop him from doing so, as his bravery and courage are not only his strong weapons but also the instruments to empower others.

Nelson Mandela said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

The writer is a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow for the year 2011-12, and a former employee of Geo Television.

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