Internationally renowned thespian and President Emeritus of the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) Zia Mohyeddin passed away in Karachi early on Monday morning at 91 years old.
In a statement, the theater legend’s family said he had been ill and was placed on life support at hospital prior to breathing his last at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning. They said his funeral prayers would be offered after Zuhr prayers at the Imambargah Yasrab in Karachi’s Defence Phase IV.
Born in Faisalabad on June 20, 1931, Mohyeddin was a regular fixture in Pakistan’s broadcasting, poetry and prose recitation spheres, as well as being widely renowned for his acting and theater direction. After graduating from the Government College, Lahore, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and used the skills he learnt there to produce, direct, and act in numerous plays in Pakistan.
Among his most memorable roles was an appearance in Lawrence of Arabia alongside Peter O’Toole in 1962. He also appeared in Behold the Pale Horse in 1964 and Immaculate Conception in 1992, along with numerous television appearances, primarily in the U.K.
Back home in Pakistan, he presented the Zia Mohyeddin Show on PTV between 1969 and 1973 and served as the director of the PIA Arts Academy from 1973 to 1977. Following differences with the military regime of General Ziaul Haq, Mohyeddin returned to the U.K. in the late 1970s. In 2005, Mohyeddin set up NAPA in Karachi on the invitation of then-president Pervez Musharraf.
In 2003, he received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz from the Government of Pakistan. This was followed, in 2012, with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz for Art (Acting/Comparing).
Among his talents, Mohyeddin was a prolific author, writing A Carrot is a Carrot (2008), Theatrics (2012), and The God of My Idolatry: Memories and Reflections (2016).
Condolences poured in from across Pakistan following Mohyeddin’s passing. In a statement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his grief and extended condolences to the theater legend’s family. Describing Mohyeddin’s art as “one of a kind,” Sharif noted that his style had been admired not just in Pakistan, but across the world. “It is sad that a person with many beautiful qualities has left society. Zia Mohyeddin’s voice will keep resonating in our hearts and minds,” he added.
President Arif Alvi, likewise, condoled with Mohyeddin’s family, saying his death was a “personal loss” to him. “He was a giant in the arts, an actor, producer, director and above all an excellent reciter of prose and poetry accompanied by music typically prompting with a pause,” he wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. “May Allah give strength to the world of arts, Azra his wife, family and children to bear this loss,” he added.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Mohyeddin’s services for the showbiz industry would always be remembered. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that Zia Mohyeddin was an institution in the world of art, literature and knowledge. “His services will always be remembered,” he added.
Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori also extended his condolences, saying the country had lost a great artist. Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi also expressed grief on the news of Mohyeddin’s passing, and shared his condolences with the artist’s family.