KARACHI: An evening to pay tribute to the late Abdul Karim Khan, or Baba-i-Baghbani of Pakistan as he was known, brought up some touching moments when some of his oldest friends despite bad health turned up to honour him and share their fond memories of him at the Horticulture Society of Pakistan’s (HSP) Garden Centre here on Saturday.
The seasoned horticulturist passed away at his home on Sept 7.
The frail-looking distinguished humorist and satirist Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi, who knew Khan Sahab from his primary school days, also attended though he politely turned down requests to speak. With tears in his eyes, he quietly listened to what others had to say.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who along with his better half specially flew down from Islamabad for the occasion, said that Khan sahib was the king of horticulture who worked to make Karachi green for almost seven decades. “I had first approached him for the landscaping of a lawn at our place several years ago and found him to be a very kind and gentle person. My wife, too, found his demeanour very caring and fatherly. For me, he had a dream that I should rise to the position of chief justice of Pakistan,” he said.
The chief justice urged everyone to keep Khan sahib’s memory alive by planting more trees to further spread the greenery. He also asked HSP to come up with a special shield or trophy in Khan sahib’s name. “I will do whatever I can in this regard,” he added.
The late A.K. Khan wanted to give the Karachi city a botanical garden and was tirelessly working towards this goal in his final years.
Former HSP chairman retired Lt Gen Jehanzeb Arbab said his dream would be made into a reality soon at a park in DHA Phase 8 that would also be named after him.
“He was a tall upright tree. Many saplings grew into big and strong trees under A.K. Khan’s guidance,” said PML-F lawmaker in the Sindh Assembly Mehtab Akbar Rashdi before sharing how she first met him. “We were building our home in Larkana and wished to have a nice lawn at the front of the house for which we approached him. He did the job and refused to accept any payment for it. Larkana doesn’t have an ideal season for growing plants but the trees planted in our lawn by Khan sahib remain evergreen. We have yet to experience autumn there,” she said. HSP’s new chairman Kalim Farooqui also spoke on the occasion.
Qudsia Akber conducted the proceedings.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2015