In a video message on a local news channel aired on Thursday night, veteran comedian Umer Sharif, who has been suffering from an undisclosed illness, had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to help him go abroad for treatment – provided the increased travel restrictions due to Covid-19.
Following this, the PM’s spokesperson Shahbaz Gill took notice of Sharif's request. After expressing sorrow at the actor's predicament, he assured the government would support him in any capacity he required.
Now, the Sindh Culture Department has announced to take responsibility for Sharif’s treatment. The Sindh Minister for Culture, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, has sent his regards to the renowned television personality, who has served Pakistan’s entertainment industry for decades.
He acknowledged that Sharif is a national asset and was saddened to hear about his illness. “Sharif is a role model and when it comes to comedy; he is an institution. So our best wishes are with him and we hope he can recover soon,” he asserted. Shah went on to assure him that the Sindh Culture Department is ready to stand by him, like it always has.
In his pre-recorded message, the veteran had ushered his faith in PM Khan. Looking visibly unwell, he had said, “I have been told by my doctors that for better treatment, I will have to go abroad. I believe I have helped Imran Khan as much as I could with Shaukat Khanum. Now, addressing the Prime Minister of Pakistan, I would like to say that whenever you have needed me, I have been there. So I am sure you will be there for me too.”
Following this, several public figures took to their social media handles to amplify Sharif’s appeal. Cricketer Shahid Afridi tweeted, “I urge Imran Khan to expedite the US visa process for the asset of our nation Umer Sharif who is in critical condition and needs immediate treatment. I have spoken to doctors here in USA and they are ready to serve. We [believe the matter] is time sensitive and [would] appreciate immediate attention.”
I urge @ImranKhanPTI to expedite the US visa process for asset of our Nation #UmerSharif who is in critical condition & needs immediate treatment.I have spoken to doctors here in USA and they r ready to serve. We have hope but it is time sensitive.Appreciate immediate attention.— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) September 10, 2021
Actor Adnan Siddiqui chimed in saying, “Sir Imran Khan, I fervently request you to expedite US visa for veteran comedian Umer Sharif before it’s too late. Being here in US, [I] am more than willing to extend any help required for his treatment. Expecting other industry folks to do whatever they can in their capacity.”
Sir @ImranKhanPTI, I fervently request you to expedite US visa for veteran comedian #UmerSharif before it’s too late. Being here in US, am more than willing to extend any help required for his treatment. Expecting other industry folks to do whatever they can in their capacity. pic.twitter.com/8T9GqxDN0H— Adnan Siddiqui (@adnanactor) September 10, 2021
Actor Mishi Khan urged her followers to make Sharif’s request trend on the micro-blogging site. “Please make this a trend too. #UmerSharif Get well soon. My appeal is to Imran Khan, to [help] Umer Shareef sahab in travel amid the Covid-19 restrictions. He needs you in this hour, as he helped you in your campaign, prayers for the legend,” she wrote.
Please make this a trend too #UmerSharif #umersharif Get well soon. My appeal to @ImranKhanPTI to assist Umer Shareef Sb in travel bcz of #Covid_19 restrictions. He needs you in this hour of need as he helped you in your campaign. Prayers for the legend— Mishi khan (@mishilicious) September 10, 2021
#MinalKhan #Ducky_Bhai pic.twitter.com/WXkShh0Slg
Host Waseem Badami had also emphasised on how Sharif needed logistical assistance and not financial one. He had reinstated that Sharif did not require funds from the government but since his doctor had recommended he travel within the next 15 to 20 days to the USA, Germany or Saudi Arabia, the comedian would need to leave Pakistan on an urgent basis.
The video message was followed by a conversation between the host and Gill, both of whom said they felt saddened after seeing Sharif in such a state. Gill assured that all efforts would be made to ensure the comedian can leave the country in time to receive his treatment.
He shared, “The video filled my heart with sorrow because Umer Sharif has always made us laugh and we’ve always seen him laughing, chipper and spreading happiness. I pray that God gives him health.” Gill added, “First thing tomorrow morning I will personally relay his message to the Prime Minister, and I will personally contact the three countries and will try to arrange for treatment since even doctors have said that his ailment is complicated and the treatment for it is not possible in Pakistan.”
Gill had also explained why he felt Germany and Saudia Arabia were better options for Sharif’s treatment, due to the fact that the two countries are closer to Pakistan. “We will contact the German and Saudi embassies in Pakistan, the benefit of which will be that these two countries are closer and that we may be able to do things faster. We will try with the US also, whichever country can facilitate our request.”
وزیراعظم کی ہدائیت پر وزیراعظم آفس ان سے رابطے میں ہے۔ بادامی صاحب سے صبح ہی بات ہو گئی ہے۔ جیسے ہی ہمیں بادامی صاحب سے درکار مزید معلومات ملتی ہیں اس پر فوری کام شروع کر دیا جائے گا۔ اور آپ کو اپ ڈیٹ رکھیں گے۔ https://t.co/7n5SaO9QBw— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) September 10, 2021
He concluded, “Whatever the government can do, I will make sure to personally get Imran Khan’s instructions on this because Umer Sharif has can be a huge contributor to Pakistani media, as well as philanthropy. He was always ready to help with Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital.”
Later, Gill re-tweeted the video message, updating followers about how the office of the Prime Minister had gotten in touch with Sharif, and promised to continue sharing more details.
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