In Memory of Prof Waris Mir | Pakistan Today

In Memory of Prof Waris Mir

The dilemma that Waris Mir faced in his journalistic life was the undue, un-academic and unscholarly reaction from the pseudo-intellectuals of our society who could not get themselves out of the cliché terms
The greatest art of a writer is to put his thoughts into words and to extend out these thoughts to the wider population. Yet, there are very few of these writers who reach the altitudes of prophesying tribulations from a humanistic, social, academic and philosophical point of view – all in one stance in order to provide a holistic frame of reference to those who lack in the departments of exposure, intuition, analytical abilities and courageous expression.
Professor Waris Mir was such a contributor in the field of journalism. Using the past tense for a person of such an intellectual posture would be misleading. An intellectual whose writings are not merely writings of a particular era, but to a certain extent, prophecies and philosophical reflections, cannot belong to the past especially when the issues he talked about are very much relevant in the present world. To make a pagan out of one’s profession is not a trait that can be attributed to many people. There are, but a very few in our society who reach the altitudes of perfection and idealism with both dignity and by adhering to their composure, commitment and principles. When this trait is adjoined with journalism, it means a completely rounded outlook towards expression, responsibility and character, which is easier said than done.
Waris Mir, a professor at Mass Communication Department of the Punjab University, Lahore although a beacon known and valued highly for his contribution to the field of journalism, has yet many facets to his professional personality that are worth idealisation. To start with, Waris Mir, who breathed his last on July 9, 1987 at the young age of 48, was a Seer, who wrote not only for the generation that was reading his columns on multi-dimensional issues, but also for the posterity that was yet to open its eyes in this social setup.
“While a writer is penning down his concerns, he is not only writing for that particular day or era – he is rather putting together pieces of history for the posterity. But in this age, when the journalist/writer is not ‘allowed’ to put into black and white what the truth is, what element of precision or accuracy is he going to secure through writings? … with enchained expression, it is not only the voice of the writer that is muffled but of that entire generation…”, so wrote Waris Mir in one of his articles during Zia era in 1985.
To be prophetic in the writings does require a brainy disposition. But more than that, it requires a holistic approach, a scientific deliberation where the cognition is thoroughly rounded sans any slanting corners. More importantly, it requires a sincere heart that is not tilted towards a political party, a particular ruler and a specific desire. Being a prophetic contributor Waris Mir had concerns for the masses in general. The concerns extend out to those who form the nation and the body of the country. Although being a teacher who wanted to educate the common person of the situations beyond comprehension, Mir was a devotee of true journalistic ideals and delivered the ends with sincere motives.
Proud to call himself a “student with an open mind” and assertive to defy that he was working for particular and personal ideals, Waris Mir had amalgamated historical orientation, international references and national situations in order to talk about issues pertaining to various sectors. These included the political chaos in Pakistan, the repeated military intervention by power hungry generals, uneasy relationship between the country’s political and military leadership, ludicrous referendums of wanna-be presidents-cum-army chief’, formation of the so-called security councils, rigged polls, sham democracy, suspension of the constitution and the like. Probably, the tragedy of the situation is not that the writings of Mir stopped to flow. If today he lived physically, he would be satisfied with the fact that at least he did not play with facts to misguide the new generation.
“I firmly believe that unless the system; in which intellectual contemplation is stifled and expression is enslaved; is not changed, any problem related to the betterment of the humanity cannot be solved … A true writer can never become an agent or cog for anyone else. A writer is concerned with humanity at large and with a brighter and better future of his/her society. He is the torch-bearer of high human values, aestheticism, peace, moderation and patriotism. For the sake of bringing a revolution, he does not believe in using Kalashnikovs and missiles – he instead relies on his pen to achieve these objectives.” He was aware of the fact that he was addressing those problems and issues that were and still are the concern of the common man, be it democracy, justice, religion, the polity, freedom of speech and expression, gender discrimination, the army intervention into politics, debates related to the constitution issue, national and bilateral problems, international disputes and so much more that still persists. It is this perennial aspect of his writings that keep him still alive and his voice booming like it did when he spoke his mind courageously in public gatherings and in the lecture rooms.
The dilemma that Mir faced in his journalistic life was the undue, un-academic and unscholarly reaction from the pseudo-intellectuals of our society who could not get themselves out of the cliché terms: Capitalism, Communism, Leftists and Rightists. For these ‘critics’, it was indigestible to think that a man of courage and philosophical ponderings could also come up with original ideas that were neither fed to him by a certain political party nor were the result of a craving for self-recognition.
Waris Mir spoke what the people of Pakistan needed to listen to at that time. He thought what a real thinker does contemplate about with loyal regard to his faith, country and people. He related that specific knowledge to the masses which was hidden from them because of the cowardice of internally feeble men of power. He wrote what a sincere patriot should write about the declining system in a country like ours; that is still facing political instability, self-created religious tribulations, civil-military tussle for power and a severe lack of brainy propositions. One might twist one’s heart with pain upon the thought of the very persistent problems that Waris Mir addressed in his writings. He is no more but those who have been following his writings may wonder what happened to the causes he championed. The issues he wrote about still persist but unfortunately we have few, if any, people to raise them as vigorously as Waris Mir. Professor Waris Mir’s death anniversary falls on July 9.