Conflict & Justice

A Pakistani journalist vows to continue reporting — even after accusing the military of shooting him

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Credit: REUTERS/Hamid Mir/Editor/Ausaf Newspaper for Daily Dawn

Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Laden, in early November 2001.

Hamid Mir is no stranger to threats and violence. In 2012, the Pakistani journalist found a bomb under his car.

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It was allegedly planted by the Taliban in retaliation for his coverage of the case of Malala Yousafzai. But he blames the Pakistani military for the shooting that almost killed him in April of this year.

He was hit six times in the legs and stomach by gunmen on the back of motorbikes. Hamid Mir is an executive editor with Pakistan's Geo-TV, and host of the nation’s most popular TV news talk show.

Mir has had a long career, distinguished by taking risks others might shun. He managed to interview Osama Bin Laden after the September 11th attacks in 2001.

He’s done many stories critical of the actions of Pakistan’s military intelligence branch, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. But he thinks his investigation of human rights abuses in the province of Balochestan was the trigger for the latest attack.

Mir received multiple threats, even direct pressure from ISI and other military officials, to try to make him stop his work. He refused. That’s when he was shot.  

And that’s when the story got really serious.

While he was unconscious, a video surfaced. It was Mir saying that if he dies, then “the ISI and their allies in extremist groups are responsible.” His station, Geo-TV, aired the allegation repeatedly.

The army was furious, and vehemently denies the charge. It pressured Geo-TV and its owners, the Jang Corporation, to retract the story. About 30 journalists and staffers have been beaten up. Vehicles belonging to the company have been torched.

Geo-TV and the Jang Corporation have now apologized. They received a fine of $100,000 and a 15-day suspension for the TV channel, which is currently off the air.

Mir does not approve of the apology and stands by his allegation, even as the ISI denies any wrongdoing.

“I told my management in writing,” says Mir, ”when I came to know that they’re under pressure to apologize to the army authorities, I told them that I’m a victim. I got six bullet wounds. I cannot walk. There are two bone injuries in both of my legs. So I need justice. I’m not part of any apology.”  

Mir also says he refuses to be silenced. He’s received further threats to try to get him to shut up and has been denounced as a traitor in the pro-military press.

“I have nothing personal against anyone,” Mir says. “I am not against ISI as an institution. But when they violate the constitution of Pakistan; when they violate local law; when they interfere in politics; when they try to bribe politicians; when they try to bribe journalists; when they pick up political workers and they’re assassinated; then journalists like me have a responsibility to raise questions.”

“I will continue speaking the truth,” says Mir. “I will not leave Pakistan.”   

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    Credit: REUTERS/Athar Hussain

    A policeman shows the media a bullet hole in the door of Hamid Mir's car, after gunmen on motorcycles opened fire and injured Mir and a colleague in Karachi, April 19, 2014.

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