KARACHI, June 17: Syed Wajid Ali Shah, the former president of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and a close associate of Quaid-i-Azam who died last Saturday at the ripe old age of 97, was an icon in the field of country’s sports.
Wajid Ali Shah’s death leaves a vacuum which will never be filled.
Born in 1911, the deceased was a diabetic patient and unwell since the last few years. He fought for his life, particularly after both of his legs were amputated at Karachi’s Liaquat National Hospital which was founded by him.
The late POA chief was at his Lahore residence when his health deteriorated. He was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. He was laid to rest in his ancestral Miani Sahib graveyard.
He is survived by his wife Khadija and two children, son Shahid Ali, who is an IOC member, and daughter Niloufer.
Wajid’s association with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which lasted 45 years, started in 1959 when he gained election as the second IOC member in Pakistan the first being founder POA president, Ahmed E. H. Jaffer.
He was appointed to the IOC Executive Board in 1966 for a four-year term of office besides serving the IOC on a number of Commissions.
Wajid succeeded Malik Mairaj Khalid on March 3, 1978 as the POA president and served for 16-years, the longest-ever tenure, until he was forced to quit by state machinery on March 11, 2004 and was replaced by incumbent Lt. Gen (retired) Syed Arif Hassan.
Lord Killanin, who was the IOC president between 1972 and 1980, and Lady Killanin visited Pakistan in December 1977 and were warmly greeted by Wajid Ali Shah.
Wajid completed his education in Lahore and Simla before serving the Army and eventually joining the family business. As a sportsman, he became involved with shooting, riding and hockey besides serving as president of the Pakistan Amateur Athletics Federation (PAAF).
His contribution to the cause of public service is unparallel including representations on hospital boards and involvement with the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
May God rest his soul in eternal peace, Ameen.