KARACHI: Legendary comedian and prominent television personality Umer Sharif was buried on Wednesday in the cemetery adjacent to the shrine of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi after his funeral prayers were offered at a park in Karachi’s Clifton neighbourhood.
Sharif passed away in Germany on Saturday after battling serious health problems. He was 66.
A large number of people including political and social leaders, as well as people from the entertainment industry, attended the funeral held at a park named after him in the Clifton neighbourhood. Religion scholar Maulana Bashir Farooqi offered the funeral prayers and the casket carrying his body was wrapped in a Pakistani flag.
Over 200 police personnel and a bomb disposal squad had been deputed at the funeral for security, police said.
A large number of people also showed up at Umer Sharif's residence in Gulshan-e-Iqbal to offer their condolences to the bereaved family.
Earlier, Turkish Airlines flight TK-708, carrying Sharif’s corpse, flew from Istanbul landed at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi at around 5:33am Wednesday morning. Sharif's wife Zareen Ghazal also arrived back in Pakistan on board the same plane. His two sons and other relatives received his body at the airport.
Sharif's body was shifted to his home in Gulshan-e-Iqbal from the mortuary Wednesday morning for his last rites. Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan’s MNA Kishwar Zahra also arrived at the airport's cargo terminal to receive the body.
Speaking to the media, Sindhi Minister Ghani said the provincial government intended to establish a training institute in the field of performing arts named after the late comedian Umer Sharif to honour his artistic services.
“I have already expressed desire that either we should name an institution after him [Sharif] or establish a new one,” Ghani said. He said that he wanted youngsters passing out from it to say that they had graduated from the Umer Sharif Institute.
The information minister said the Sindh government would establish the training institute to honour the services of the late entertainer in addition to its recent decision to name an underpass on Shaheed-e-Millat Road after Sharif.
Born in Karachi’s Liaquatabad neighbourhood in April 1955, Sharif started his career in theatre at the age of 14. His original name was Muhammad Umar. When he entered the entertainment industry, he renamed himself Umar Zarif because he was inspired by the veteran actor. However, when the Egyptian actor Omar Sharif’s movie Lawrence of Arabia was screened in Pakistan, he renamed himself Umer Sharif.
Sharif was regarded as one of the greatest comedians of the Sub-continent and Pakistan's “king of comedy.”
He has written scripts of over 70 dramas and also served as a director, writer, and author of these dramas. Some of his extremely popular comedy stage plays were 1989's Bakra Qisto Pe and Buddha Ghar Pe Ha.
He was also a recipient of the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz for his contributions as a comedian, actor and producer in the entertainment industry. He also received ten Nigar Awards and remains the only actor to receive four Nigar Awards in a single year.
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