Sad demise of Dr Naseer Shaikh

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By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

Professor Dr Naseer A Shaikh, Adviser Overseas Pakistanis in the government of the Shaheed prime minister Benazir Bhutto and personal doctor to Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto died in Germany on May 1st after protracted illness.

Dr Sheikh was a renowned professor of Surgery in Dow Medical College and Orthopaedic surgeon Civil Hospital besides serving in other medical institutions in Karachi and London. Prof Shaikh shot to fame when in August 1972 he operated Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for inguinal hernia in his Al-Hilal Clinic in Karachi jointly run by him and his gynaecologist wife Dr Mahjabeen Sheikh.

His close association with Bhutto sahib marked him out disfavourably in the eyes of Ayub government and he was professionally hazarded.

Bhutto sahib chose him to be Director General of Health soon after he assumed power. More so the purpose was to keep him in Rawalpindi to look after his health as personal physician.

As DG Health Dr Shaikh introduced revolutionary reforms to make healthcare accessible to the needy and within reach of the common man. Dr Shaikh was singled out by General Zia in his coup against Bhutto sahib since he was known to be very close to him. He suffered 8 months of incarceration, confiscation of his property only to escape from a life time in jail by the help of his friends who smuggled him out of Pakistan to London via Turkey.

During his more than ten-year long exile in London he was pillar of strength for PPP, always at Benazir Bhutto’s back and call and stood by her when her ‘politically renegade uncles’ tried to take over the party from ailing Begum Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto— both in exile. Professionally too he was at par with British surgeons and had a renowned practice.

When Benazir Bhutto became prime minister she appointed him adviser overseas Pakistanis attached with the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs. She also used his services as personal emissary to heads of state on matters confidential.

Since quite some time Dr Shaikh was not keeping well. After protracted illness he died in Germany at the age of 88. He leaves behind two widows, three sons and three daughters and a large following of admirers including his students who fondly remember him as one of the finest teachers. May his soul rest in eternal peace. His sad demise is a personal loss to me as I had with him long association when he was Professor in Dow Medical College. Let’s us pray to Almighty to grant him highest place in the heaven.

Dr. Shaikh was close friend and relative  [Samdhi] of prominent Pakistani businessman Akhtar Hussain who is based in a county near London.

(The writer is former high commissioner of Pakistan to UK.)