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The Mir Family

The Mir Family

Headed by Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Mir Family is easily the first family of news media in Pakistan. Over the last four decades, its influence has increased enormously both in politics and business. On the one hand, the family’s patriarch Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has become a key political player whom others can ignore only at the cost of either being ignored or being negatively portrayed by the country’s largest news media conglomerate owned by him and his family. On the other hand, he has developed strategic and personal relations with some of Pakistan’s top politicians and businessmen – often allowing his news platforms to take sides to the advantage of his friends and allies.

These two aspects came together when, in the summer of 2017, he reportedly became instrumental in the appointment of a 41-year-old businessman, Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, as a social special assistant to prime minister and later, in early 2018, as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. Ali Jahangir Siddiqui is the son of Jahangir Siddqui who owns a number of financial institutions, including a bank, and whose other son is married to a daughter of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Mir Family’s original patriarch, though, was not Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman but his father Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman who started Jang as a cyclostyled weekly newspaper in Delhi when he was a student there. He would report the entire contents of the newspaper all by himself, before producing and selling it also on his own. By the time Pakistan was carved out of India in 1947, he was already known among Delhi’s Muslims as a publisher/editor who supported the creation of the new state as a homeland for Muslims living in British India.

Soon after Pakistan’s creation, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman started publishing Jang as a daily newspaper from Karachi and found a ready audience among the city’s migrant communities who had left their homes in and around Delhi to settle in the new state.

On his part, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has founded many newspapers and magazines since his entry in the news media industry in the late 1970s as the heir apparent to his father Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman. These include an English language daily, The News International, which has three editions, each coming out from a different city, a daily Urdu evening newspaper, Awam, published from Karachi, a daily Urdu evening newspaper, Inqilab, published from Lahore and a low-priced Urdu daily, Awaz, also published from Lahore.

He also purchased the iconic English language daily Pakistan Times in 1989 after it was privatized by the government and acquired Urdu daily Waqt in mid-2000s from Aleem Khan, a builder and real estate developer who was a minister in the provincial government of Punjab before he was arrested under corruption charges in February 2019. (While Pakistan Times is still being published as a dummy newspaper, Awam, Inqilab, Daily News and Waqt were shut down in December 2018 reportedly due to financial problems.)

Today, Mir Family not just owns Pakistan’s largest circulated newspaper, daily Jang, it also owns the country’s most viewed news television channel Geo News, the country’s only private sector sports channel, Geo Sports and two entertainment channels, Geo Kahani and Geo Entertainment. Several magazines and newspapers and three of the ten most browsed Pakistani news websites – www.jang.com.pk, www.thenews.com.pk and Geo.tv – are, too, run by the companies owned by the family.

These businesses are jointly owned and run by Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, his brother Mir Javed Rahman, his son Mir Ibrahim Rahman.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been a massive modernizing influence on Pakistani news media in some other important ways as well. To cite just one example, he introduced color printing and computer composing of the editorial contents (for which he had a special Urdu font, Noori Nastaliq, developed) after his father assigned him the task to bring out an edition of daily Jang from Lahore in the early 1980s.

He did the same when he set up Geo News and its associated television channels. He brought in a team of highly qualified instructors from abroad to train their prospective staff in production, packaging and presentation of the contents. He similarly invested heavily in setting up high-tech studios and procuring state of the art cameras as well as sound and lighting equipment.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has also introduced many negative trends in the news industry -- the most significant of them being the decimation of the institution of editor. He chipped away at the editorial authority initially by creating special investigation cells which would report directly to him rather than to editors working with him. He then centralized editorial decision making, going so far as to issue directives to editors as to which news report was to be highlighted, and in which part of a newspaper, and which news report was to be suppressed or even killed. He also gave his business managers and marketing departments a huge say in editorial affairs, empowering them to censor and drop news reports if those were seen as being harmful to the commercial interests of his companies.

By the time Geo News came along, he and his closest aides, including his son Mir Ibrahim Rahman, were making all the editorial calls, leaving little authority in the hands of those running the channel’s newsroom. He also gave huge salaries to talk show hosts that were many times higher than his own channel’s average reporter or subeditor, thereby promoting star power at the expense of editorial regulation.

Media Companies / Groups
Media Outlets
Facts

Business

Publishing and printing

Jang Private Limited

Broadcasting

Independent Media Corporation (Private) Limited

Film production

Independent Motion Pictures (Private) Limited

Television production

Geo A&B Productions (Private) Limited

News gathering and publishing

United News Network (Private) Limited

Printing and packaging

Pakistan Ink and Packaging Industries (Private) Limited

Investment

Combined Investments (Private) Limited

Family & Friends

Affiliated Interests Family Members Friends

Mir Javed Rahman

He is the chairman of Jang Group and the older brother of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Further Information

Data Publicly Available

ownership data is easily available from other sources, e. g. public registries etc.

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Meta Data

The family was sent information request, via the media outlets it owns, on 15 January 2019 through a courier company as well as by email. It did not respond even after a reminder was couriered on 1st February 2019 and emailed on 4 February 2019. No verifiable information is available online about the family’s financial status and the ownership structure of its companies.

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