January issue 2009
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Succeeding where dozens before him had failed, New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary was the first mountaineer to reach the summit of Mount Everest. After this achievement, Hillary spent much of his life in aid of the Sherpa people of Nepal. He died in his hometown of Auckland at the age of 88.
If Bobby Fischer was not the greatest chess player of all time, he was certainly the most eccentric. The only American to ever be a world chess champion, Fischer was a recluse, anti-Semite and a fierce critic of his own country. Fischer, who died at the age of 64, spent the last part of his life in Iceland after he clashed with US authorities over a visit to Yugoslavia.
Australian-born actor Heath Ledger first achieved commercial fame in romantic comedies like 10 Things I Hate About You. He received critical acclaim for his Oscar-nominated turn in Brokeback Mountain. Just weeks after wrapping up The Dark Knight, for which he received rave reviews for his portrayal of The Joker, Ledger, aged only 28, died of an accidental overdose.
Leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, left-winger George Habash was the most vocal proponent of using violence to achieve his political ends. Habash and his group are best known for their stringent opposition to Yasser Arafat, and for being behind a spate of airplane hijackings in the 1970s.
In his 30 years as president of Indonesia, Suharto ruled the country with an iron fist. It is estimated that his brutal annexation and occupation of East Timor resulted in over 100,000 deaths and he was also accused of raking in billion of dollars. After a popular uprising forced him to resign, Suharto lived alone in Jakarta, eventually passing away at the age of 86.
Abu Laith al-Libi
In his third international Test, as a 25-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, Taslim Arif took on the mighty Australian attack led by Dennis Lillee in Faisalabad and scored an unbeaten knock of 210, the highest score by a wicketkeeper at the time. Although this was the undoubted highlight of his career, Arif, who was a consistent player, unfortunately played only six Tests. Arif, 53, died of a lung infection in Karachi.
Arthur C. Clarke
One of the most acclaimed and prolific science-fiction writers, Sir Arthur C. Clarke was also one of the few writers in his genre to portray the future in an optimistic light. He is most renowned for writing the screenplay and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. Interestingly, and perhaps uniquely, Clarke worked on both the novel and screenplay simultaneously. Knighted for his services to literature, Clarke died at his home in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.
Best known for his heroic roles in epics such as The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, in later years Charlton Heston concentrated on his fight for Second Amendment rights as president of the US National Rifle Association. He was quoted on numerous occasions as saying that the government could only take his gun away from his “cold, dead hands.” Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for many years, Heston eventually passed away after complications from pneumonia.
A part of the Pakistan hockey team during its first golden era, Tariq Niazi was a member of teams that won an Olympic silver medal in 1964 and gold in 1968. He died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 68.
A lecturer in botany who rose to become pro-vice chancellor at the University of Balochistan, 60-year-old Safdar Kiyani was shot dead by gunmen as he was walking home. Separatist group the Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the murder.
Social activist Nirmala Deshpande espoused a Gandhian philosophy of non-violence. She served in the upper house of the Indian parliament and was active in working for peace in Kashmir and other parts of India. She died in New Delhi, aged 89.
Yves Saint Laurent
One of the biggest names in fashion, Algerian-born French designer Yves Saint Laurent is remembered most for making prÃªt-a-porter clothes fashionable. Laurent retired from designing in 2002 and died of brain cancer at the age of 71.
Syed Wajid Ali
Syed Wajid Ali was an industrialist who served as president of the Pakistan Olympic Association for 26 years. He was also a member of the International Olympic Committee executive board and chairman of the All Pakistan Music Conference and Liaquat National Hospital. He was 96 at the time of his death.
Ayub Khan Ommaya
Neurosurgeon Ayub Khan Ommaya was the inventor of the Ommaya reservoir, a device used to provide chemotherapy directly to the site of brain tumours. Born in Rawalpindi, he built his career in the US, becoming a professor at George Washington University and the chief of neurosurgery at the National Institute of Health. Besides being a pioneering surgeon, Dr Ommaya was a Pakistan national swimming champion and a trained operatic tenor who was known to sing to his patients before and after surgery. He died in Islamabad at 78.
Veteran television and radio star Mehmood Ali died of cardiac arrest at the age of 80. A recipient of the Pride of Performance award, Ali starred in numerous television plays, including Laila Majnun and Taleem-i-Balighan.
Indian Test cricketer Ashok Mankad came from a long line of cricket players. His elder brother, Vinoo Mankad, was one of India’s greatest openers, while his two younger brothers also played domestic cricket. Mankad averaged over 25 runs per innings and his highest test score was 97. Aged 61, he died in his sleep in Mumbai.
Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn first shed light on and gave a human face to the brutalities of the Stalin era. His semi-autobiographical books One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago were the first books to describe the inhumane gulag set-up in the Soviet Union. He died of heart failure at his home near Moscow. He was 89.
Known as the national poet of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Darwish’s predominant concern was the displacement and exile of his people from their homeland, which he often compared to Eden. Darwish was also a long-standing member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, although he was very critical of its leadership after the signing of the Oslo Accords. Darwish’s death at the age of 67 was marked by three days of official mourning in Palestine.
Considered one of Pakistan’s greatest modern poets, Ahmed Faraz has been recognised both nationally and internationally for his work. His awards include both the Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-i-Imtiaz. Often compared to other giants of Urdu poetry like Iqbal and Faiz, Faraz wrote in a simple yet beautiful style. He died from kidney failure at the age of 77.
A professor of English at the University of Karachi, Rafat Karim was the foremost authority on Shakespeare in Pakistan. He founded the Shakespeare Association of Pakistan in 1997 and regularly attended conferences on Shakespeare throughout the world. Karim died of cardiac arrest at the age of 68.
Paul Newman’s filmography may be among the most impressive in Hollywood history. Titles like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke and The Hustler are deservedly remembered as classics. But Newman was more than just an actor. As the founder of the food company Newman’s Own, he donated all the proceeds — more than $250 million — to charity.
When his Freedom Party formed a coalition government in 2000, Austrian politician JÃ¶rg Haider became the scourge of Europe for his anti-Semitism and glorification of Hitler. Many EU states decided to no longer cooperate with the Austrian government. After the coalition collapsed a couple of years later, Haider became a peripheral figure eventually dying in a car crash at the age of 58.
Pakhtun film and television actor and singer Badar Munir starred in over 400 Pashto and Urdu films in a career spanning three decades. He rose from humble beginnings as a rickshaw driver and tea boy to become one of Pakistan’s most illustrious film stars. He was 68.
Jamshed Gulzar Kayani
Lt General Jamshed Gulzar Kayani served as Rawalpindi Corps Commander under then-president Pervez Musharraf. After his retirement from the army, he was made head of the Public Service Commission but was forced to resign due to differences with Musharraf. Kayani was part of the ex-serviceman’s group that had called on Musharraf to resign.
nown for mixing cutting-edge science with pulpy thrills, Michael Crichton became one of the best-selling authors of his time, thanks to novels like Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain and Congo. In recent years, Crichton, who passed away at the age of 66, became notorious for denying that humans were causing global warming and comparing environmentalists to religious zealots.
Mahmoud Haroon led a rich and varied life. In his 88 years, Haroon served as governor of Sindh twice, and as interior minister, defence minister and mayor of Karachi. He was also chairman of the Dawn media group and the founder of Khaleej Times.
Amir Faisal Alavi
Major General Amir Faisal Alavi, aged 52, was shot dead by three unknown gunmen while driving to work in Islamabad. Alavi was assassinated just two weeks after he sent a letter to army chief Ashfaq Kayani alleging that some generals had made secret deals with the Taliban. He had previously masterminded a military operation in the tribal areas that targeted foreign terrorists. Soon after, he was sacked by then-president Pervez Musharraf for “conduct unbecoming,” reportedly in relation to a disrespectful remark he made about Musharraf.
Winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006 was a fitting coda to Harold Pinter’s career. As the writer of plays such as The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, Pinter’s modernistic approach, combining realism with absurdity, revolutionised theatre. He was also notorious for his unorthodox (pause) dialogue. Pinter died at the age of 78 after a long struggle with cancer.
Samuel P. Huntington
Renowned for his seminal work, The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel P. Huntington was influential and widely respected as a political scientist. He was also known for his work on the relationship between the military and the civil government, his research on coups d’etat, and, more recently, his analysis of immigration and its effects on the US. A Yale graduate, Huntington served in the army and was a professor at Harvard University. He died at the age of 81.
Nadir Hassan is a Pakistan-based journalist and assistant editor at Newsline.