The man who was a movement

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Waqar Gillani

Prof Mohammad Waris Mir, who died at the young age of 48, was a prominent voice of resistance against the suppression of freedom of speech during the period of military dictator General Ziaul Haq in the 1980s.

A recent book Waris Mir Kahani, a compilation of articles about Waris Mir by country’s prominent columnists, intellectuals, writers and activists, is a testimony to his vivid struggle in the hard times of dictatorship. The 279-pager, compiled by Amir Mir, noted journalist of the country and son of Waris Mir, dwells on his admirable character — as a teacher, journalist, writer, and intellectual. He is aptly described more as a movement than a man.

“The book is a story of a brave man who continued to speak truth at a difficult time and did not refrain from raising voice for freedom and values even though he had to pay a heavy price for it. The book’s objective is not just to compile articles written about Waris Mir but an effort to focus on the understanding and spirit of these articles,” writes Amir Mir in the foreword of the book.

Waris Mir wrote extensively on all important national and international issues of his times, especially in the 1970s and ’80s. Despite facing censorship, threats, mental torture and vandalism, he stood his ground firmly, upholding his principled stance of opposing dictatorship and backing democracy and freedom of expression.

Besides, he wrote fiery articles and columns for many leading Urdu newspapers of the country. It was the firmness of his columns, appearing in daily Jang, that earned Waris Mir soaring popularity amongst his readers, especially at a time when a military general was trying to Islamise the Pakistani society by enforcing his own version of Shariah.

Those whose articles form a part of the book include Ahmed Bashir, Asma Jahangir, Farooq Haider Maududi, Suhail Warraich, Abbas Ather, Nazir Naji, Khaled Ahmed, Aitzaz Ahsan, Afzal Touseef, and Habib Jalib. These were tributes written on his death or later.

The dictator could not bend Waris Mir’s will even after falsely implicating his son Faisal Mir in a murder case. His son was proven innocent by the court five years after Waris Mir’s death — on July 9, 1987.

“Prof Waris Mir was a staunch believer in the basic human rights for freedom of thought and expression. However, it is important to understand that to him, freedom of thought and expression did not have any meaning unless they were accompanied with responsibility,” writes Asma Jahangir.

It is an important book, especially for students of journalism, human rights activists, politicians and people in general to recall one of the remarkable persons of our history. The highlights of Waris Mir’s life — expressed through some of his own articles like ‘Kia Taraqqi Pasandana Soch Sem-o-Thor Hai?’ and ‘Main ne Pakistan Do Lakht Hotey Dekha’ and other people’s columns about him — introduce him as a unique man of resistance against an era of suppression.

He did not side with any group or party. A verse in his own handwriting, printed with his picture at the end of the book, says it all “Mansab To Hamein mil Saktay Thay, Laikin Shart Hazoori Thi — Yeh Shart Hamein Manzoor na Thi Bas itnsi He Majboori Thi” [I could have gotten positions (in my life), but the condition was flattery — The condition was not acceptable to me, that was the constraint]

In Waris Mir’s life, there is a message for every Pakistani — don’t wait for a messiah or saviour to achieve your freedom and values but play your own role to become a milestone towards the ultimate goal.

Waris Mir Kahani
(compilation of essays)
Compiled by: Amir Mir
Saagar Publishers, 2015
Price: Rs1200/
Pp: 279

Waqar Gillani, “The man who was a movement,” in The News, July 5, 2015. Accessed on July 7, 2015, at:

The item above written by Waqar Gillani and published in The News on July 5, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on July 7, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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