Pakistan’s ‘king of comedy’ Umer Sharif dies at 66

Sharif, who was battling cardiac ailments, passed away in Germany, officials confirm.

Umar Sharif, Pakistan comedian
The news of Sharif's death prompted an outpouring of grief in Pakistan [File: Claro Cortes IV/Reuters]

Pakistan’s legendary comedian Umer Sharif has passed away in Germany at the age of 66.

His death on Saturday was confirmed by his family and Pakistani officials.

Sharif, who was battling cardiac ailments, was flown out of Pakistan on an air ambulance on September 28 for surgery in the United States scheduled for next week.

However, he was admitted to a hospital in Germany during a stopover as his condition deteriorated.

“With deep sorrow it is announced that Mr. Umer Sharif has passed away,” Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan’s ambassador to Germany, wrote on Twitter. “Our deepest condolences to hie [sic] family and friends. Our CG [consul general] is present at the hospital to assist the family in every way.”

The news of his death prompted an outpouring of grief and a wealth of tributes.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and opposition leaders Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were among a number of politicians and dignitaries who joined the entertainment and media industry in grieving the entertainer’s death.

“He possessed many talents and enjoyed a distinct position in the field of acting and comedy,” Khan said in a statement, adding that Sharif’s contribution to the arts world will be remembered for years to come.

Born in 1955 in the southern port city of Karachi, Sharif started off as a comedian in stage dramas in 1974.

An illustrious career spanning nearly five decades saw him being widely hailed as Pakistan’s “king of comedy”.

He was also involved in television and films, producing several major hits.

The stage, however, remained his forte as he – along with the late comedy icon Moin Akhtar, who passed away in 2011 – pioneered stage dramas in Pakistan.

Sharif performed in dozens of countries around the world during his career.

His talent transcended the boundaries of politics, as proven by the love and adoration he received in neighbouring rival India, where many entertainers over the years regard Sharif as a mentor.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies