THE relentless hands of death — the ultimate end of all mortals — have snatched Dr Khushnood Ahmed Siddiqui. He died on March 17 after a massive heart attack.
His sudden passing away, considering his robust health and age, has not only shocked his friends and admirers in the country but the land of Sufis as Sindh is known, is deprived of an eminent agricultural scientist who shone as a glittering star in the galaxy of Pakistani scientists with enviable international exposure, repute and respect.
He passed his matriculation from Sukkur and took his B.Sc degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Sindh. He had a flair for poetry from his childhood.
He was a prolific writer on subjects such as plant breeding, bio-technology and genetic engineering. He did his PhD from the University of Reading, England, which also conferred a D.Sc degree on him in recognition of his research on cereal crops. He evolved a number of wheat varieties, when he was director, Atomic Energy Agricultural Research Institute, Tandojam.
He distinguished himself by being honoured by a number of research organisations in England, Canada and Denmark. He was a fellow of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, a member of the senate of the University of Sindh and Sindh Agricultural University, Tandojam, where he taught botany for years.
Judging from his literary thirst, he could be ranked as a great talented poet. Although Urdu was his mother tongue, he also excelled in Sindhi which he spoke and wrote like his own mother tongue.
He always said that no matter if he was not the son of the soil, he was the son-in-law of Sindh as he was married in a Sindhi family. He loved Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai whose work he uttered with an ease that was his own forte.
His deep knowledge as a teacher and guide to post-graduate students was immense and has benefited scores of students. The vacuum caused by his untimely death is not likely to be filled in the near future. He will be remembered by many for his teaching style and research methods.
One hopes that the University of Sindh or Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam, of which he happened to be an alumni, will honour his memory in a befitting manner.
M. SHAFIQUE AHMED