Pakistan’s celebrated actor-comedian Umar Shareef left for the US in an air ambulance on Tuesday where he is scheduled to undergo an intensive life-saving cardiac surgery. The comedian’s son Jawad confirmed that Shareef and his wife, Zareen, left in air ambulance IFA 264 for Washington DC on Tuesday. The 66-year-old comic will be admitted to the Washington University Hospital for the complicated procedure.
“My father, who has been in a private hospital for the last few weeks due to a heart problem and other complications, has finally left (for the US) this morning and was taken to the Jinnah International Airport in an ambulance with a full medical team,” Jawad said.
The air ambulance, which landed in Karachi yesterday from Manila, will reach DC after three stopovers. The provincial Sindh government arranged for the air ambulance and also released around Rs 40 million for the comedian’s treatment after he and his wife appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan for help. Jawad said the federal government has assured them of all help for his procedure and stay in DC. Shareef, known as the King of Comedy, underwent a bypass procedure last year but his condition deteriorated.
When videos and pictures of an ailing Shareef were shared earlier this month on social media, many celebrities and politicians pushed for the government to step in for his treatment. Jawad said that Dr Tariq Shahab, the husband of famous Pakistani actor Reema, who resides in DC, had run from pillar to post to urgently arrange for the visas for the star and his family. Shahab will head the medical team that will perform Shareef’s surgery.
Shareef gained unparalleled popularity in the 1980s and ’90s in India and Pakistan as a comedian, actor, director, producer and stage artist. He also visited India many times to participate in award ceremonies and shows. The actor, who started his career at 14 with stand-up comedy, has worked in around 60 stage comedies, and other television shows and also produced, directed and acted in two big movies.
He became a rage when he turned to host late-night shows on television.
In 1989-90, two of his comedy stage plays “Bakra Qiston Pe” and “Buddha Ghar Pe Hai” were bumper box office hits in Pakistan and India, while his film “Mr 420” is regarded as one of the most successful films ever made in Pakistan.