June 22, 2012 marks the third death anniversary of Arshad Sami Khan, a seasoned diplomat, war hero, bureaucrat, and above all, an extraordinary human being, who lost his life to pancreatic cancer, leaving behind a trail of fond memories that inspired his loved ones to lead their lives with the kind of exuberance that was his signature.
In a star-studded career spanning four decades, Arshad Sami assumed diverse responsibilities in the higher echelons of the government. As a pilot of the Pakistan Air Force, he was awarded Sitaar-e-Jur’at for courage in combat during the 1965 war. Earlier in 1961, he earned the coveted Best Pilot’s Trophy. From 1966 to 1972, he served as aide to presidents Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Upon joining the Foreign Office, he served the country as its ambassador to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia. He also served as chief of protocol for a good many years. His last assignment before superannuation was as federal secretary in the then Ministry of Culture.
Arshad Sami’s professional achievements notwithstanding, it was basically his love for humanity and his warmth and compassion towards all people-rich and poor-that made him extra-special.
“He was very generous and often gave without advertising,” his son Junaid Sami Khan reminisced. Junaid remembers his father for always being ahead of time. “If one were having problems with friends, he’d sit up all night to calm us down. If one of us needed a school paper written on a given topic, he’d churn it out for us. From the smallest to the biggest issues of our lives, he was always there. We could talk to him about anything. He was extremely intelligent and well-read, yet at the same time, very humble and down-to-earth,” he recollected.
Adnan Sami Khan, the elder son of Arshad Sami, talked about his father’s contribution to the singing sensation that he is today. “He knew how to nurture all of our unique talents and inspired us to realize our dreams as if they were his own. He stood by us like a rock and protected us with all his might. He not only protected his loved ones but also stood up to protect his country with ultimate distinction. Yet, he was the most soft-spoken soul and touched everyone’s heart wherever he went. He was truly an ambassador of love and humanity,” Adnan said in a telephonic conversation with this scribe. One of Arshad Sami’s greatest passions was music and Adnan brought that to fruition.
Arshad Sami’s wife Noreen Sami remembers him as a man of great strength. “You can imagine why we have such a difficult time getting over this loss; maybe we never will,” she said.
May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace (Ameen).