KARACHI: Eminent scholar Obaidullah Baig’s death on Friday morning sent a shockwave across the country. As soon as the news of his death broke, friends and relatives thronged to his Clifton residence.
Speaking to Dawn, a media person and close friend of Obaidullah Baig, Ghazi Salahuddin, said: “I don’t think there was anyone else other than Baig who was so respected at the popular level in this country. It was the magic of Kasauti (quiz show). The kind of public recognition that he got was distinct. Unlike other members of Kasauti, he was multitalented. I feel his Urdu writings are yet to be acknowledged the way they merit. Then the documentaries that he made, Sailani Ke Sath, were of a rare quality. So he was a combination of unique talents.
“Baig was an extremely selfless man who never craved for anything material in his life. We were friends for 55 years. As for his knowledge and wisdom, despite not acquiring a formal education, he belonged to a cultured family and it was his upbringing that made him what he was. Apart from history, geography and literature he was also well-versed in shikariyat that these days is called environmental sciences. Add to this the fact that he was an old school patriot,” said Mr Salahuddin.
Prof Sahar Ansari said: “His death has saddened me tremendously. I’d known him for many a year. There was a time when friends would gather at his place and discuss every topic under the sun. They included the likes of Mumtaz Saeed, Ghazi Salahuddin and Jaun Elia. He was a very well-read person who had a profound interest in history and shikariyat. The two novels that he wrote too cannot be ignored or overlooked.”
PTV Karachi Centre GM Mustafa Mandokhel said: “He was a great man, a wonderful friend and an intelligent individual. He was multifaceted and had successfully worked in many fields. He wrote novels, made documentaries and hosted TV shows. When I came to PTV he taught me many things. He was our teacher. His death is a national loss.”
Actor Talat Hussain said: “I’m in shock. He was an extremely gentle human being and highly talented. He would never brag about his abilities, which is a mark of a great soul. He was one such person who could be justifiably called a role model.”
Artist and head of the National Academy of Performing Arts Zia Mohyeddin said: “He was an educated person that is a rare quality in this country. When he, Iftikhar Arif and Quresh Pur used to do that quiz show, Kasauti, he impressed me with his vivid memory.”
Poet Naseer Turabi said: “He was someone who belonged to the rare breed of book-reading people (kitab culture). What made him different was the quality of the books he used to read. He was not interested in light or trash literature. He knew the worth of pure literature.”