KARACHI: Naeemul Haque, one of the 10 founding members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and close friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan, passed away in Karachi on Saturday after battling cancer for around two years. He was 70.
Naeemul Haque, who spent over three decades in politics, was the special assistant to the prime minister on political affairs and a member of PTI’s core committee.
He had also served as the party’s central information secretary and president of its Sindh chapter.
Haque is survived by a son and two daughters.
Upon receiving the news of Haque’s demise, the ruling party announced three days of mourning, during which all party political activities will be suspended.
Central Vice President and Administrative Head of PTI Central Secretariat Zahid Hussain Kazmi also announced that the party’s central secretariat will be open during this period to those coming in for condolence.
In addition, the party will pay tribute to the late leader and his many services for the nation along with memorial services and Quran Khwani(s) organised throughout the country, Kazmi added.
Kazmi further revealed that after the funeral prayer, the party’s central leadership will be present with the workers in the central secretariat of PTI in Islamabad.
Premier Imran said he was “devastated” by Haque’s demise.
Am devastated by one of my oldest friend Naeem's passing. He was one of the 10 founding mbrs of PTI & by far the most loyal. In 23 yrs of PTI's trials & tribulations, he stood by me. He was always there for support whenever we were at our lowest ebb.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 15, 2020
“He was one of the 10 founding members of the PTI and by far the most loyal,” he tweeted. “In 23 years of PTI’s trials and tribulations, he stood by me. He was always there for support whenever we were at our lowest ebb,” he added.
“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. His passing has left an irreplaceable void.”
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. His passing has left an irreplaceable void.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 15, 2020
The ruling party also paid homage to the seasoned politician, calling him a dedicated Pakistani, a loyal friend and a kind human being. “The entire PTI family is aggrieved upon Naeemul Haque’s sad demise. May Allah bless his soul in the highest ranks of Jannah,” the party wrote on its official Twitter handle.
A dedicated Pakistani, a loyal friend and a kind human being, the entire PTI Family is aggrieved upon @naeemul_haque ‘s sad demise. May Allah bless his soul in the highest ranks of Jannah.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) February 15, 2020
Haque was born on July 11, 1949 in Karachi. He did his LLB from the Sindh Muslim Law College and then went on to complete a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Karachi.
A banker by trade, Haque was part of the team that had established the National Bank of Pakistan branch at the United Nations plaza in New York.
He settled in London as Merchant Banker in 1980, but moved back to Karachi in 1984 to join the Tehreek-e-Isteqlal party of the late Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan. He had contested the general elections of 1988 on the party’s ticket.
Haque 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 and CEO Metropolitan Steel Corporation and Managing Director, Credit and 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 Haque and his wife, Nazli Jamil “Nazo”.
The friendship especially flourished when the latter developed a debilitating stress fracture in 1983, and Haque famously gave his exercise bike for Imran’s recuperation.
As a trusted aide, he helped Imran Khan manage the party affairs and overcome the election setbacks of 1997 and 2001. He is also credited for organising a huge rally in Karachi on December 25, 2011 that helped establish PTI’s popularity as a national party.
In 2012, Haque 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.
In January 2018, eight months ahead of the general elections, Haque was diagnosed with blood cancer. Like a true party loyalist, he soldiered on, working long hours prior to the elections while undergoing treatment.
Condolences poured in from both friends and political opponents on the passing of Haque.
President Dr Arif Alvi expressed his profound grief over Haque’s demise. He prayed for the departed soul and offered condolences to the bereaved family.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS ) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed grief on the sad demise of Haque. “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family, Aamen,” he was quoted by military’s media wing, the ISPR, as saying.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, who is the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, also offered his condolences to the bereaved family and the party. “Very sad to hear about the passing away of Naeemul Haque. May Allah rest his soul in peace!” he tweeted.
Very sad to hear about the passing away of Naeem-ul-Haq. My profound condolences to the bereaved family and the PTI. May Allah rest his soul in peace!
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) February 15, 2020
Several other political leaders also issued statements expressing their sorrow over the PTI leader’s demise while the social media was flooded with condolence messages.
Naeem Ul Haq fought like a lion aagainstt Cancer, a friend, elder and a colleague …. will always be missed… may Allah Rest his soul in peace #RIPNaeemUlHaq
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) February 15, 2020
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said it was difficult to imagine PTI without Haque.
“In Naeem’s passing I have lost a unique friend. His humour, his political support for me in PTI, his passion for music, his temper – and 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 tweeted.
In Naeem's passing I have 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.
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) February 15, 2020
Punjab chief minister’s spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill lauded Haque as a hero, saying, “Always saw him smiling during the very painful cancer treatment process”.
Sad news. Naeem bhai is no more. RIP. He fought like a hero. Always saw him smiling during the very painful cancer treatment process.
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) February 15, 2020
Matsuda Kuninori, the ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, in a statement said: “The late Naeemul Haque was a great friend of Japan and myself personally and I feel deeply saddened over his tragic death.”
The Japanese envoy expressed his deepest sympathies with the family and friends of Haque.
“Allah may grant them patience to bear this irreparable loss with patience and fortitude. The untimely passing away of Naeemul Haque is a big shock for all of us as he was an ardent supporter of Pakistan-Japan friendly relations.”
In a recent video, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Haque could be seen discussing his illness with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.