Muhammad Wasay Mir
Muhammad Wasay Mir Image Credit: Supplied

Muhammad Wasay Mir is twenty and utterly fabulous. And that isn’t hyperbole.

Currently studying journalism and strategic communications at the Northwestern University’s Doha campus, Mir is on the Dean’s Honours List. He has bylines in Pakistan Today, Daily Times, and Newsday Pakistan, and has interned at Dunya TV, Euronews, Fox News, and Sidra Medicine, Doha. Ambassador of Doha Debates, Mir is a 2022 fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. In February 2023, he starts junior residency at Aljazeera in Washington D.C.

In collaboration with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2022 Mir made Sarzamin-e-Man, a documentary on Afghan refugees living in Doha. Also in process is a documentary on acid attack victims in Pakistan.

Mir is the vice-captain of the Northwestern Cricket Team.

Mir’s list of achievements at Aitchison college, one of Asia’s oldest and most renowned schools, is long and stellar: Best Leaving Day Boy medal 2020 (an honour for which his name is engraved on Aitchison’s Senior School high achievers board); College Prefect; Full College (Blue) Blazer Holder For Academic Excellence; winner of the 2019 Malik Chiragh Khan Challenge Cup for best speaker (another honour that put his name in the school’s oldest and most prestigious building); Secretary General Aitchison College Model United Nations; head of 2019 ACMUN.

From Lahore to Doha, Mir’s pursuit of excellence is as consistent as the eloquence of his words and the remarkableness of his actions: recipient of awards for journalistic writing and strategic communication at NUQ’s Media and Research Awards 2022; Editor-in-Chief Daily Q, NUQ’s main student publication; served as NUQ ambassador; athlete for NUQ’s cricket and football teams; served as president of NUQ debate club; 2021 Journalism Batch Representative.

Younger of two siblings, Mir’s bond with his family is integral to his existence. “I’m close to my parents, especially my mother. They have a huge influence on me. They’re responsible for the values I have, and I always go to them when I need advice. My mother’s honesty and my father’s work ethic are my inspiration. I’m close to my sister. She helps keep me on track; when I’m under stress or confused, she gives me a lot of clarity. She looks after me, and I do the same.”

Friendship is another thing Mir attaches great importance to: “I’m still friends with the people I started Aitchison with.”

When not studying, Mir hangs out with friends, plays sports, works out, talks to his family, prays, watches YouTube and Netflix, writes poetry, listens to music and podcasts, and works on projects outside university.

In Mir’s achievements is that rare combination of a goal becoming a passion, a journey turning into a fascinating adventure of knowledge, curiosity, inclusivity, and discovery. Mir is a dreamer and an achiever. Dedicated to his studies and work, focused on his ambition, his heart in the right place, Mir is a splendid personification of the best of Pakistan’s young: articulate, empathetic, realistic, charismatic, well-rounded, brilliant.

For Gulf News, I asked Muhammad Wasay Mir a few questions:

What was the motivation behind your academic and extracurricular excellence at Aitchison College?

I was always a good student because of my mother’s interest in my studies. She used to send me to tuition centres and also taught me herself. That inculcated in me the discipline of having a good standing as a student.

Up until senior school, I never really thought I wanted to be the best, excel as a high achiever. I was someone who enjoyed his space, time with friends, and ensured my grades were up. I lived a normal teenager life. I was happy. In senior school I started noticing my seniors who motivated me. Everyone respected them for their achievements. There were some boys in my batch who were high achievers, but they had an ego problem; they looked at others as people who were not as special as them. That always annoyed me. What I thought was if they could do it, I could do it too.

I started in senior school, and alhamdulillah, I soon went up the ladder. Initially, my motivation were my seniors and batch mates, but eventually, I started finding motivation within. I wanted to do better for myself.

You’re studying in an American university in the Middle East with a stellar GPA and have an active involvement in media, filmmaking and writing. How do you maintain the balance?

Near the end of my education at Aitchison, I truly discovered the importance of living a balanced life. Sometimes I’d overthink, take too much stress. In university I realized that you need to be an all-rounder, so I joined sports teams. I prioritize my work in a way that I’m not spending too much time doing one thing.

I work out a lot as I feel a strong body is a strong mind. I make sure I’m cognizant of time I give to everything. When having fun, I’m conscious of not going overboard. In university, no one is pushing you to work so that’s something you have to manage yourself. You have to manage your time. And you need to ensure you’re at peace—with God, your family, friends.

One thing that’s kept me balanced is my religion, my relationship with God. When I pray, I find a lot of peace and a lot of support in ways I can’t fully describe. That helps me keep a balance that helps my mind.

Knowing, planning, and organizing yourself in the way you think is best because everyone is different. Being motivated, finding motivation from within yourself and having the belief that everything you do you’re gonna be good in it. If you fail, you get even more excited because failure is the way you learn. After failure is success so you need to be motivated. You need to have a lot of self-belief. You need to be open to critique, and you need to listen to people. You need to talk to people around you because sometimes they can guide you very well. Talking to experienced people and who live balanced lives is a great help.

The way to strike a balance is to ensure you have control over your emotions. If you’re a reactive individual, get too happy when things are going well or too down when things go bad, you will not find a balance in life. You need to stay calm in every situation. If you’re doing very well for yourself, you need to know that it could be taken away from you at any point in time. Being humble helps. If there is a bad situation, you should know that this too shall pass. And things will get better. It’s always important to stay calm, be very down-to-earth, be in touch with reality, and not to let things or emotions cloud your judgement. That can be hard at times, but that’s very important to maintain a balance.

Fellowship at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, two awards for journalistic writing and strategic communication, and February 2023 Junior Residency at Aljazeera—your remarkable achievements are reflective of your expansive interest in the fields of communication and reporting. How do you visualize your journalistic future?

Alhamdulillah, God has always been very kind to me. The career I’ve had so far as a student of journalism has been every fruitful. There is a long, long road ahead, and I hope I make something of myself, inshaAllah. That’s the goal.

In journalism, I visualize myself as being someone who always speaks the truth, who is not afraid of holding people to account, who stands by journalistic ethics. I want to represent my country internationally. I’ve always had that dream. I’m interested in international politics, relations, affairs. I want people around the world to see what Pakistan has and what Pakistan can produce. And being ethnically a Kashmiri, I’ve always wanted to be able to at least help and play my part in any way that I could in resolving of the Kashmir issue.

Muhammad Wasay Mir
Muhammad Wasay Mir Image Credit: Supplied

I visualize myself working in an international media agency. Reporting on Pakistan and reporting on important topics that I feel are necessary for people to know and understand. I see myself hosting a show and/or going out in the field, reporting on topics of great political interest and importance. I want to be someone who people tune in to listen to when they want to listen to someone who they know will be genuine, who they know will always speak the truth, and is not afraid of anyone or anything.

I’d want to give voice to the people whose voices have been silenced. I’d want to analyse great political situations to the best of my capabilities and learn more about them. I’d want to be involved in important conversations about the future of my country, future of our people. I’d want to have a say in the way things are run in the country. I’d like to have influence over matters that are of importance to me. If I can give back to my community in any way I can, I want to be able to do that as a journalist. I want to have a powerful voice. I want to have a voice that when I write people read, and when I speak people listen. That my words and my writings have a significant impact on the world, and I can use that impact for good. That for me would be the ideal future.

What are the three major aspects of your day-to-day and long-term discipline of achieving excellence?

The first thing is honesty—to your work, your family, and friends, and most importantly, to yourself and your moral code. I’ve set boundaries of what I will and won’t do, and that helps me a lot. Boundaries that are influenced by my religion, my upbringing, my ethics. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I try not to do things that physically, mentally, and spiritually harm me. Hopefully, that is going to stick for the rest of my life.

The second thing is I try to stay active, fit. I regularly go for runs, go to gym, lift weights, play sports. If you try to get out of bed before your alarm even rings—whether it’s raining or it’s really hot—and be out there in the world, that truly helps train you. Every single day you follow a routine that helps build that discipline and teaches you how to persevere through adversity.

The third thing is the most important one: self-belief and expectations from yourself. Every single day I just want to be the best version of myself. I want to constantly improve. We should always strive to be the best versions of ourselves. I have a larger mental picture, which always helps in self-discipline. I believe I can do great things if I have God’s will on my side and if I work hard. I have that intrinsic self-belief that I will achieve great things and I will do good for myself, my family. I will make them proud. I will make my friends proud. I will do good for society. And I will lead a fulfilling life if I know I have given hundred percent of my efforts to what I’m doing. If at the end of the day—and life goes by quickly—I can say, hey, I was honest to myself, and I gave it everything, that would be a happy ending for me.