KARACHI: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (PM) on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque, who was also among the premier’s closest friends, passed away in Karachi at the age of 70 after a two-year-long battle with blood cancer.

His funeral prayers offered at Ayesha Mosque in DHA, Karachi, after Asr prayers held on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader’s health had deteriorated and that he had been shifted to Agha Khan Hospital.

Reacting to the sad news, PM Imran said he was devastated by the PTI’s senior leader’s death, remembering him as one of his oldest friends and the most loyal founding member of the party.

He said during 23 years of PTI’s trials and tribulations, Naeemul Haq stood by him and he had always been there for support whenever “we were at our lowest ebb.”

“In the last two years, I saw him battle cancer with courage and optimism. Till the very end, he was involved in party affairs and attended cabinet meetings as long as he was able,” the prime minister recalled. His passing has left an irreplaceable void, he commented.

Haq “fought like a lion” against cancer, tweeted Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry, terming the deceased politician “a friend, elder and a colleague”.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari tweeted that in Haque’s passing, she has lost “a unique friend”.

“His humour, his political support for me in PTI, his passion for music, his temper — & his fight against cancer till the end — all was so “Naeem”! Can’t imagine PTI without Naeem frankly! So many wonderful memories come flooding,” she said.

Opposition leader and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif also tweeted his condolences saying: “Very sad to hear about the passing away of Naeemul Haque. My profound condolences to the bereaved family and the PTI.”

A banker and businessman by trade and one of the co-founders of PTI, Naeem was instrumental in promoting a positive change in Pakistan as part of the party’s ideology.

Born on July 11, 1949, in Karachi, Naeem completed his MA in English Literature from University of Karachi (1970) and then pursued LLB from Sindh Muslim Law College Karachi (1971). He practiced law with Khalid Ishaq before joining Jamil Nishtar’s team at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP).

As a young banker, he was part of the team that established the NBP branch at UN Plaza in New York City, after which he moved to London in 1980 as a merchant banker for Oriental Credit Limited.

Naeem had 35 years of cumulative experience in banking, finance, corporate sector and law in Pakistan, London and New York. During his career, he also served as an Adviser/Managing Director of Aero Asia Airlines, Chairman & CEO Metropolitan Steel Corp and Managing Director, Credit & Leasing Corporation.

During his professional stint in London in early 1980s, he became close friends with Imran Khan, who used to play county cricket at that time. Imran would frequently visit Naeem and his wife, Nazli Jamil (“Nazo”). Naeem and Imran Khan became especially close friends when the latter developed a debilitating stress fracture in 1983, and Naeem famously gave his exercise bike for Imran’s recuperation.

Naeem was driven by the purpose to serve Pakistan and believed that positive change could only be brought about in the country through a democratic, political system.

In 1984, he joined Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s Tehreek-e-Istiqlal party in London and moved back to Karachi a couple of years later to set up his leasing company business and pursue political aspirations. In the post-Zia ul Haq era, he contested the 1988 elections from Tehreek Istiqlal ticket in Orangi. Even though he lost the election, he continued his interest in politics and kept himself abreast of economic related matters.

In 1996, he became one of the five founding members of PTI along with Imran Khan. As a trusted aide, he helped Imran Khan manage the party affairs and overcome the election setbacks of 1997 and 2001.

After the death of his wife in 2008 from a bout of cancer, Naeem fully devoted his life to PTI, where he became the central information secretary and president of Sindh. He is credited with organising the huge December 25, 2011, public rally in Karachi that helped establish PTI’s popularity as a national party.

In 2012, Naeem moved to Islamabad as Chief of Staff to the PTI Chairman and an integral part of the PTI Core Committee leading into the elections of both 2013 and 2018.

He worked extremely hard for organising the party at the grassroots, working across the board with workers and part office bearers. He also intermittently served as the information secretary of the party during this period, playing an important part in the party’s communication strategy.

In January 2018, eight months before the general elections, Naeem was diagnosed with blood cancer. Like a true party loyalist, he soldiered on, working long hours prior to the elections while undergoing treatment.

Never one to shirk from important causes and managing people and operations, he remained at the forefront. As a member of the PTI core committee, he was an accessible, approachable and was popular among the workers.

When the 2018 victory finally came to PTI, he was appointed a Special Assistant on Political Affairs to the PM and was involved in a number of initiatives ranging from housing scheme, party operations, SDGs and appointments to name a few.

An honest man, he cared for ordinary people, the future of PTI and a progressive Pakistan, where the underprivileged have an equal chance to prosper.

Published On Public Hours February 17th, 2020


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