Veteran archaeologist, author of numerous books on Islamic architecture, Khurshid Hasan Shaikh, and father of Tanveer Shaikh, artistic director of The News, died peacefully yesterday morning. He was 94 years old. He leaves behind a wife, three sons and two daughters. His Namaz e Janaza will take place today (Monday), after the Zohar prayer, at Masjid-i-Umar Farooq, Gulahan-i-Iqbal, Block 11, Rashid Minhas Road. Soyem will be observed on Tuesday.
The News family stands in solidarity with Tanveer Shaikh Sahib and his family, especially his mother, in this time of grief. May Allah grant Jannatul Firdaus to Khushid Hasan Shaikh and give courage to his loved ones to bear this irreparable loss.
Born on April 4, 1929, Khurshid Hasan Shaikh holds a postgraduate degree in general history and a degree in archeology from the University of Rome, Italy. In addition to continuing education, he received specialized training in the fields of archeology and museology from foreign institutes. He served the Federal Department of Archeology of Pakistan from 1952 to 1988, retiring as Director General.
During his 36 years of service in the department, he has achieved national and international recognition through his research and work in the rehabilitation and preservation of ancient archaeological sites in the region. His contributions have been varied and multifaceted, ranging from archaeological research, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage, to the development of museums and the organization of special exhibitions of cultural relics both at home and abroad. His particular interest was in exploring various facets of Muslim architecture and writing about them and, where possible, assisting in its presentation and rehabilitation, for during his employment he felt that a major attention was paid to the exploration and excavation of prehistoric, protohistoric, Buddhist monuments and sites while the study and conservation of Muslim architectural heritage was ignored. He has served on various commissions and committees set up by the Government of Pakistan and specialized organizations. Khurshid Hasan was also a UNESCO expert in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (1985). He was a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, as well as the Pakistan Historical Society, Karachi. He also received the singular honor of being the secretary of the Quaid-i-Azam Relax Commission, established by the government of Pakistan in 1969. He was also the archaeological advisor to the Quaid-i-Azam Mazar Management Board ( QMMB).
In recognition of his services in the field of archaeology, the Italian government conferred on him the title of “Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” in 1993. He also received a gold medal from the Nazaria- i- Pakistan Council (NPC), the last he received personally in Islamabad on March 27, 2017, by another veteran nuclear scientist, Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan (late), as well as the Minister of State for ‘Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb.
He has published several research articles in renowned domestic and foreign journals and authored several books including: “Muslim Architecture in Pakistan”, “The Islamic Architectural Heritage of Pakistan: Funerary Memorial Architecture”, “Pakistan: Its Ancient Hindu Temples and Shrines”, “Historical Forts of Pakistan”, “Chaukhandi Tombs in Pakistan”, “Religious Architecture of Gandhara-Pakistan: Buddhist Stupas and Monasteries”. He also co-authored Moenjodaro: A 5000-Year-Old Legacy , published by UNESCO in 1981 as part of its international campaign to preserve Moenjo-Daro. A God-gifted person who showed the world the beauty of our great culture and civilization through his writings, Cheikh will be remembered for his remarkable work in the rehabilitation and preservation of ancient archaeological sites in the region.