A life well lived

Dr Tabish Hazir will be remembered for his many contributions to improving children’s healthcare and kindness

A life well lived


n December 20, the medical fraternity lost an icon. Dr Tabish Hazir was a beloved paediatrician at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, where he had served and helped countless citizens throughout his thirty-year career. He touched many lives with his sharp wit, gentle manner and patience as he helped new parents navigate the early years of childcare.

Dr Hazir breathed his last in the same hospital. He had been bravely fighting colon cancer for two years. The funeral was attended by many members of the medical fraternity and his many friends.

Dr Tabish Hazir, 74, had been a strong advocate for the eradication of polio throughout Pakistan. He is remembered for convincing parents to vaccinate their children and to be kinder to polio drops administering staff. He also made notable efforts to inform mothers about the dangers of formula milk during infancy as he urged them to be responsible with regard to the health of their babies. He will always be remembered as someone who stood firm on ensuring today’s children have a better, safer, healthier tomorrow.

Remembering her father, Imaan Mazari Hazir told The News on Sunday, “There are so many happy, wonderful memories that it is difficult to mention just one.” She added, “some of those that have crossed my mind a lot since his passing are of him making fun of me, my brother making fun of him or him giving me a lecture while my mother and I made fun of him (unless they were on the ‘same page’). It is the little, everyday things about him I miss the most.”

Of his many qualities, his daughter believes “his compassion, patience and sense of humour made him someone who would leave you lighter after even the most difficult conversations. He was my strength in so many ways – from the everyday pep talk after a frustrating day in court to difficult moments. He was my shoulder to cry on. Resisting any attempts to make me (or him) conform to what society expected us to be. I know he would hate to see us all weeping and wailing – he had spoken to me a few times in general on grieving ‘privately’ and ‘with dignity’. So, like I say it to myself (only to breach it), I will say it for those whose lives he touched: ‘We all have to go. I want you to be happy and get on with your life.’ That is what he would say to all of us.”

“Tabish’s persona could not be missed – wherever he was, his energy spread and gripped – he enveloped us in the tightest hugs, the heartiest laughter, the largest heart with an open purse and an open house - but with all of this he stood on strong ground reality, called out who he didn’t agree with, made no bones about sickness, life and death.

Dr Tabish Hazir was born on May 31, 1958, in Lahore and spent his early school years in Sialkot. He completed his MBBS from Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, and served at PIMs till his retirement. Thousands of mothers all over the country mourned his death as he always made sure to put them at ease and guide them with his gentle smile and expert opinion on all matters regarding children’s health. Dr Hazir had also worked with the World Health Organisation as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the improvement of children’s health in Pakistan.

Despite being married to Dr Shireen Mazari and father to activist, Imaan Mazari Hazir, he chose to stay away from the limelight and focused on improving the lives of the patients at the PIMs. Dr Hazir was the head of the Neonatology Department. He is also credited with establishing the Pediatric Department at the hospital. A firm believer in research about child healthcare, he was among top paediatricians and always willing to share his extensive knowledge on causes of infection and child mortality.

Dr Shireen Mazari told TNS, Dr Tabish will always have a special place in her heart. She spoke candidly. “We had an intense relationship as both of us were passionate about our beliefs and our commitments. But my most endearing memory of him is his devotion to his children and his ability to let them find their own paths in the lives they wanted to lead. I saw him mellow with age and become a friend and confidant to his children. His commitment to his patients, his extended family and his friends remained as strong as it always used to be, right to the end. We gave each other space to develop in our own directions.”

Trusted by his friends, he will be forever remembered for his warm personality and kind spirit that could never be dimmed. Speaking to TNS, Beo Raana Zafar, a close friend, said, “Tabish’s persona could not be missed – wherever he was his energy spread and gripped – he enveloped us in the tightest hugs, the heartiest laughter, the largest heart with an open purse and an open house – but with all of this he stood on strong ground reality, called out who he didn’t agree with, made no bones about sickness life and death.” She added, “Two generations of mothers and children mourn him along with his family and friends. His slot is impossible to fill, a brighter spark would be hard to find, for me personally I am bereft of a twin, someone who like me looked to make living cheerier, more mindful, lighter… Bless you Doc – May your essence be as light as light can be.”

The deceased was the son of poet Taufiq Rafat. He was laid to rest in Lahore beside his father on Wednesday, December 21. He leaves behind two children, Imaan Mazari Hazir and Sabeel Mazari Hazir.

The writer is a freelance journalist who mostly writes on human rights, literature and lifestyle. Her debut novel, Our Tainted Souls is available all over Pakistan. She tweets at @MinaalMaan and can be reached at minaalmohsin@hotmail.com

A life well lived