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December 26, 2018

Gone but not forgotten: Famous Pakistani, global figures who left the world in 2018


December 26, 2018

LAHORE: A good number of well renowned Pakistani and international personalities, who made a mark in their respective fields and stood tall among their contemporaries, left for their eternal abode during 2018, a year that has also been full of political surprises, fruitful anti-corruption drives in various countries, prolonged armed conflicts, human miseries, devastating natural calamities, acts of religious intolerance, racism, grave human rights violations and deadly terrorist attacks etc.

Those who left voids in the hearts of their followers and admirers included international Presidents like George Bush senior of United States, Premiers like Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India, former Pakistani and South African First Ladies, eminent sports personalities, magnificent television and film artists, master chefs, courageous human rights activists, astronauts, top soldiers like former Pakistani Air Force Chief Asghar Khan, brilliant scientists like Stephen Hawking, Nobel Laureates, some politicians and other celebrities.

As the world gears up to bid adieu to 2018 in a dazzling fashion in a few days from now, one hopes the planet does not lose any more of its gems during the brief remaining part of this year at least, though the unending process of people greeting this planet every minute and departing will continue till the Day of Resurrection. Here follows the list of those who breathed their last this year:

On January 4, renowned Pakistani culinary expert Zubaida Tariq, popularly known as Zubaida Aapa, left her family and followers, finally succumbing to cardiac arrest-- although she was also suffering from Parkinson's disease since long.

A master chef, health advisor and an expert on home remedies, Zubaida Tariq certainly was a household name. She was 72.

On January 5, Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan, the first native commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Air Force, had passed away at the age of 96 in Islamabad.

It was also on January 5 that pioneer American astronaut, John Young, died at the age of 87 at his Houston home after battling pneumonia. The US astronaut flew to the moon twice and commanded the first ever space shuttle mission.

Asghar Khan, who became the youngest head of PAF at the age of 35, had departed after a long illness.

On January 23, American stage and screen star, Connie Sawyer, who was Hollywood's oldest working actress, had died at the age of 105 at her retirement home.

On February 1, legendary Cuban leader Fidel Castro's 68-year-old son, Castro Diaz-Balart, had expired in Havana.

On February 21, famed American evangelist, Billy Graham, had died at 99. He was a counselor on Christianity to various American Presidents and preached to millions.

On February 24, famous Bollywood actress Sridevi Kapoor, who featured in almost 300 films, had died from a heart attack in UAE at the age of 54. She had featured in Indian cinema's master strokes like Mr India, Chandni, Chaal Baaz and Sadma etc. Famous figures including Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and London's mayor Sadiq Khan had paid rich tribute to the actress.

On March 14, world renowned British physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking, had died at the age of 76. He had passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge. He was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neuron disease in 1964 at the age of 22, and was given just a few years to live.

However, Hawking prevailed and survived to become one of the most famous scientists of the modern age. He was best known for his work on black holes, the mysterious infinitely dense regions of compressed matter where the normal laws of physics break down. This study had dominated the whole of his academic life.

Outspoken Pakistani human rights activist and celebrated lawyer Asma Jahengir died on February 11, 2018 due to a sudden heart attack in Lahore. She was 66. It was also on February 11 that veteran Pakistani radio, television artist, Qazi Wajid, had perished at 87. Known for his wits, subtle satire and humor, Qazi's demise was widely mourned.

On April 2, former South African First Lady and a noted anti-apartheid campaigner, Winnie Mandela, had died at the age of 81. She and her former husband Nelson Mandela were both jailed and Ms Mandela had spent almost three decades of their 38 years of marriages alone due to Mr Mandela's long imprisonment.

On May 12, splendid Pakistani Hockey Olympian, Mansoor Ahmed, had died in Karachi from heart complications. He was 49.

He was the goal-keeper in Pakistan's Sydney World Cup-winning Hockey team of 1994. Mansoor's penalty stroke save against the Netherlands in the finals had helped Pakistan bag the laurels actually.

He played 338 international matches and also participated in three Olympics and various other high-profile events in a career spanning from 1986 to 2000.

On July 8, former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Saleem Shahzad, who joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf earlier this year, had passed away at a hospital in London after a long battle with cancer.

On August 15, former Indian Cricket team captain, Ajit Wadekar, had died at the age of 77 in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. The left-hander was well known for leading the side to Test victories over West Indies and England on foreign soil in the 1970s.

Ajit Laxman Wadekar played for the India between 1966 and 1974.

On August 16, the three-time Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had died aged 93. The statesman had battled poor health for years, suffering a stroke in 2009, but his condition deteriorated sharply in recent days, with doctors placing him on life support.

On August 18, Kofi Annan, the only black African to become United Nations Secretary-General, had died at 80 in Switzerland.

His home country, Ghana, had declared a week of national mourning. Annan served two terms as UN chief from 1997 to 2006, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work.

On September 11, the three-time Pakistani First Lady, Kulsum Nawaz, had did in London after lung cancer had finally defeated her resolve against the fatal disease. Wife of embattled former Pakistani Premier, Nawaz Sharif, Kulsum was buried in Lahore few days later after her coffin was flown all the way from United Kingdom.

On October 6, another globally-acclaimed Pakistani chef and host of numerous cookery shows on television, Tahir Chaudhary, had also died suddenly due to heart failure.

Widely read progressive poetess and writer Fehmida Riaz's heart also flirted with her on November 21.

The 72-year old Fehmida wrote over a dozen books on fiction and poetry.

On November 30, former American President, George Herbert Walker Bush, had left the world at 94, He had pursued policies that helped topple the Soviet empire.

Under his directives, American military interventions had ousted and crippled many foreign dictators.

Bush's rule saw the demise of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

On December 13, former Pakistan woman cricketer, Sharmeen Khan, had passed away in Lahore. She was 46.

Sharmeen, who along with her sister Shazia Khan formed the first-ever national women cricket team, breathed her last after a brief fight with pneumonia. She had arrived from England only two days ago.A right-handed all-rounder, Sharmeen, had represented Pakistan in two tests and 26 One Day matches.

Superb film and television actor, Ali Ejaz, was yet another famous Pakistani who died of a heart attack. His stay on the planet ended on December 19. He was 77.

He had survived a paralysis attack 10 years ago. He displayed fabulous acting skills in 107 films including FBI Operation Pakistan, Sona Chandi, Sala Sahib, Chor Machaye Shor, Ishq mera Naa Bharosa, Sala Sahab, Athra Puttar Aap sey Kiya Parda, and Ishq Samandar etc.

His partnership with the late comedian, Rafi Khawar alias Nanna, in lead comic role earned him eternal fame, while his television drama 'Khawaja & Son' had won him immense popularity too.

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