Amazing Pakistan: 10 amazing Pakistanis who have done us proud

How do you decide who are the truly extraordinary individuals this country has produced? Can there be an objective set of criteria to evaluate the scores, even perhaps hundreds of people, who may come to mind, if we consider all Pakistanis from our day of independence to the present?

Certainly any listing of 10 amazing Pakistanis will be subjective to some degree. But in drawing up my own list, I narrowed down on 5 criteria:

  1. Has the achievement been truly world class and even beyond?
  2. Has the achievement principally benefited the achiever himself or herself, or did it positively impact a lot of others, civil society or the country as a whole?
  3. Is the positive impact made by the high achiever sustainable?
  4. Did the person start off in life with a huge set of advantages – influential family, affluence, top class education and so on, or did the person have to struggle against odds to rise to a world class level?
  5. Is the high achiever otherwise of unquestionable integrity and reputation?

And so, on the basis of these considerations, here’s my list of 10 amazing Pakistanis. I think anyone will be hard pressed to disagree with this list. Nevertheless if you think someone greatly important has been missed out, do share your feedback via a comment on this post.

#10: MUSHTAQ CHHAPRA (1947 – )


Perhaps not as widely known a name as the others in my list, Mushtaq Chhapra is nevertheless an extraordinary Pakistani whose efforts have resulted already in substantial positive impact, with sustainability of benefits to society also assured.

Mushtaq Chhapra is a successful Karachi businessman who one day, about 16 years ago, decided with a few friends that Pakistan’s salvation lies in making high quality education available inexpensively or even freely to the masses, and especially the less privileged. The friends vowed to set up a thousand schools in whatever time it took, starting off first with establishing one school each with personal funding. Thus The Citizens Foundation (TCF) was formed. Today, the target of 1000 schools has been achieved, with over 120,000 students enrolled in these. And TCF keeps marching on.

TCF is one of the greatest success stories out of Pakistan. It is an unparalleled example of leading from the front, literally putting your money where your mouth is, and expending countless amounts of your personal time, effort and money to go after a target that at the start seemed impossible.

#9: DR. AKHTER HAMEED KHAN (1914 – 1999)

Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan-1

Recipient of the Ramon Magsasay Award (often called the Asian Nobel prize), a Honorary Doctorate from the Michigan State University, Jinnah Award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Pakistan, Dr. Khan was a renowned development practitioner and social scientist, determined to uplift the lives of rural inhabitants in Pakistan.

He was fluent and in at least 7 languages and an avid writer who wrote scholarly books, articles and Urdu poetry.

Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan is remembered today by millions of people, even several years after he passed away. This unassuming development activist and social scientist pioneered the concept of self-help development in a large, marginalized, squatter community of Karachi, Orangi Town. Inspiring the inhabitants to rise above their everyday challenges and address a key issue facing them all, Dr. Khan initiated the Orangi Pilot Project, a one of its kind socially innovative scheme, which mobilized one million people to improve sanitation on a self-help basis.

The basic philosophy of this project, which also became its greatest strength, was the focus on helping people achieve their local development needs with minimal external support. Local managerial and financial resources were mobilized and encouraged to collaborate, leading to the installation of over 72,000 sanitary toilets and 1.3 million feet of sewer lines.

Apart from a low-cost sanitation programme, other initiatives such as a low-cost housing programme and a basic health and family-planning programme were also carried out, all with the community’s own funds and under their own management.

The Orangi Pilot Project has since become a model of participatory development and has been adopted by communities in many developing countries.



The ‘King of Kings of Qawwali’ was a befitting title for a man who is thought by many to have the greatest voice ever recorded!

Able to perform for hours at extraordinary ranges, Khan brought to the world’s attention the art of Qawwali, an art his family was perfecting since the past 600 years. The internationally acclaimed artist, who toured the world extensively, still holds the record for recording a record-breaking 125 albums. He received the Pride of Performance award for his contribution to Pakistani music and the Legends award at the UK Asian Music Award amongst the countless accolades to his name.

A true international sensation, he also collaborated with many Western musicians including Peter Gabriel, Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook. His vocals were sought after for soundtracks to films directed by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Tim Robbins along with the Indian Hindi movie Bandit Queen.

#7: SADEQUAIN (1930 – 1987)


Descending from a family of calligraphers, he was one of the greatest calligraphers of his time who transformed the art of calligraphy into eye-catching expressionist paintings.

Born in Amroha, UP, Sadequain brought about the renaissance of Islamic Calligraphy in Pakistan. Recipient of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, he is considered to be one of the finest, critically acclaimed and internationally recognised painters and calligraphers Pakistan has ever produced. Sadequain passed away in Karachi at Jinnah Hospital on the 10th of February, 1987.

A muralist par-excellence, Sadequain painted over 45 murals that were donated to public institutions in Pakistan and India amongst other countries. Recipients included Punjab University Auditorium, Frere Hall in Karachi, State Bank of Pakistan, Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University to name a few.


Dr. Adeeb Rizvi-1

Recipient of the Magsaysay Award, Dr. Adeebul Hasan Rizvi is a pioneer in treating kidney related diseases in Pakistan.

“We cannot let them die just because they cannot afford to live,” Dr. Rizvi once said.

Dr. Rizvi was born in Kalanpur, India. He was about 17 years old, when Hindu-Muslim communal riots forced him to migrate from India to the newly independent Pakistan. Without a family, he spent much of his time as a medical student in Karachi in the 1950s living in boarding hostels. After completing his medical degree in Karachi, Dr Rizvi went to Britain for a fellowship in surgery. There, he spent a decade working in hospitals.

Inspired by the National Health Service of the U.K., on a visit to that country, he started an 8-bed facility which grew to become the world-class 800 bed kidney disease centre – the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT). SIUT now offers free treatment to all with dignity without compromising on quality and service.

In 2003 Dr. Rizvi successfully performed the first ever liver transplant in Pakistan on an infant. To date SIUT has performed 3600+ kidney transplants, 5000 organ transplants and performs 750 dialysis sessions on a daily basis.


nazir sabir sample image 2

At 7.30 am on Saturday, May 17, 2000, following a full-moon night, a Pakistani national set foot on the highest point on the Planet, the summit of Mt. Everest. Nazir Sabir became the first Pakistani to conquer Everest that day.

Nazir Sabir was born in Hunza and tall mountain ranges are all that he saw growing up. His conquest of Everest is not his only accomplishment, grand as it is. He has also climbed 4 of the 5 peaks over 8,000 meters in Pakistan. These include the world’s second highest mountain K2 (8,611 meters / 28,251 feet) in 1981, Gasherbrum 2 (8,035 meters) and Broad Peak (8,050 meters) in 1982 and Gasherbrum 1 (8,068 meters), also known as the Hidden Peak in 1992.

Today Nazir Sabir divides his time between several responsibilities. These include working as an environmentalist on wildlife conservation in the northern areas of Pakistan, being involved in the conservation of the 5,000 years old juniper forests in the Balochistan province, running his own adventure tourism business under the name of Nazir Sabir Expeditions, promoting Pakistan as a tourism destination, and delivering inspirational lectures and presentations within Pakistan and across the world.

Nazir Sabir is a Pakistani legend who has made the country proud. The year 2000 in the history of Pakistan unquestionably belongs to him.

# 4: PROFESSOR ABDUS SALAM (1926 – 1996)


Dr. Abdus Salam, who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979 for his contribution to electroweak unification, saw an electric light bulb for the first time in his life at the age of 15. He was 53 years old in 1979 when he became the first (and still only) Pakistani and the first person from the Muslim world to be awarded the Nobel Prize.

Abdus Salam was born in a humble family in rural Pakistan. His primary and secondary education was by candlelight, as there was no electricity in his village. At age of 9 he attained his life’s first major achievement, by becoming the highest-scoring pupil in the country’s only standard examination.

At age 16, his first national scientific paper was published, in which he simplified theorems of the famous mathematician, Ramanujan. At 26, Abdus Salam obtained a doctorate degree in theoretical physics from Cavendish Laboratory, Cambrisge, U.K. Even before he was 30 years of age, Abdus Salam was a recognized authority in physics all over the world, and at the age of 31 he narrowly missed getting the Nobel Prize. Then at the age of 35, Abdus Salam founded the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. Today the center is named after him and has received over 100,000 visiting scientists from developing countries.

Dr. Abdus Salam passed away in 1996 at the age of 70 from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. He is ranked as one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. And in the words of Jim Al Khalili, U.K. based physicist / science communicator, ‘Salam stands as the greatest physicist of the Islamic world for a thousand years.’

# 3: JEHANGIR KHAN (1963 – )


Starting from unpromising beginnings to being thought of by many as the greatest squash player ever to dominate the courts, Jehangir is a former world # 1, the winner of 6 World Open Tournaments and still the retainer of the mammoth record of winning the British Open 10 times.

His superiority in the court can be determined by the fact that he is the record-holder of the longest winning streak of 555 matches – which remains unchallenged by any other athlete to this day. Amongst his countless laurels, he also holds the record of being the youngest player to win the World Open at 17 and playing the longest match in squash history.

After retirement, Jehangir

Khan served as the President of the World Squash Federation from 2002 to 2008. Being given the title of Emeritus President, he now works tirelessly to unearth and promote young talent in Pakistan.


Abdusattar Edhi

I cannot even imagine what our country would have been for the past 30 years, in terms of humanitarian services if there had been no Maulana Edhi.

Born in Bantva, India, and fleeing to Pakistan in 1947 at the age of 19, Edhi has since then dedicated his life to aiding the poor, the less privileged and the marginalized. He has single-handedly managed to change the face of welfare in Pakistan. From roaming the streets and helping the needy, to establishing the Edhi Foundation, his efforts have rescued thousands of abandoned infants, rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans and trained  over 40,000 nurses.

Edhi Foundation operates 330 welfare centres throughout the country, which operate as food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned women and children and clinics for the mentally challenged. The Edhi Foundation also maintains the largest private fleet of ambulances in the world, and the largest morgue in Pakistan. Edhi is truly a living saint, a hero for every Pakistani and a role model of selflessness for the whole world.

# 1: SAMINA BAIG (1990 – )

Samina Baig (NXPowerLite)

Imagine a diminutive girl, about 50 kilograms in weight, just out of her teens, coming from a remote and backward village of a male-dominated country, going on to climb the highest mountain in the world. For me this is the ultimate personal achievement any Pakistani, male or female has ever achieved.

Displaying a knack for climbing at the age of 4 to being trained as a mountaineer at the tender age of 15, Samina has the accolade of being the first Pakistani woman and the youngest Muslim woman, to conquer the daunting Mount Everest at the age of 21. She is also the first Pakistani ever and the first Muslim to summit the highest peaks on all the 7 continents of the world!

Samina Peak in Pakistan, which was previously Chaskin Peak, was renamed in her honour when she became the first person in the world to overcome it in 2010. Hoisting the Pakistani flag at the highest points in the world she has become an inspiration for all women of Pakistan.

Along with her brother, Mirza Ali, Samina also operates an NGO called Pakistan Youth Outreach, which aims at tackling gender inequality and promoting women participation in adventure sports, along with spreading awareness and educating the youth on mountaineering and outdoor activities.

15 Responses to Amazing Pakistan: 10 amazing Pakistanis who have done us proud

  1. Kamil Mian says:

    This is very interesting insight of Pakistani achievers.All thes personalities are mostly from Karachi or Karachi based, I would have enjoyed it more if it included names of people from other provinces as well. It is certainly an recognize these personalities without any prejudice to the ones not named.

    I can recall names of few politicians who were upright and were an asset for Pakistan.

    Liaqat Ali Khan

    Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar

    MOlvi Tamizzuddin Khan

    Gen Azam Khan

    and many more.

    • Zohare Ali Shariff says:

      Dear Kamil. It never occurred to me to even consider the geographical background of people on my list! Only now that you mentioned it, I reviewed my list again. And 5 out of 10 are not from Karachi. Anyway, where they are from is absolutely no criteria, at least for me. As far as politicians are concerned, I deliberately did not consider them as to be honest with ourselves, in our nearly 7 decades history there has hardly been a politician who does not have controversy associated. Further, all people on my list fully meet the 5 criteria I listed, which I believe politicians and others don’t. Of course we all have our own opinions, but I do believe the 10 on my list are unquestionable in terms of reputation.

  2. Syed W. Hussain says:

    We continue to fall in the trap of personal achievement which becomes a piece of entertainment for us. Mere personal achievement like being first at Everest is far less valuable the Mr. Ehdi who single handed started a charitable organization that now blankets the whole nation.

    We need to put more emphasis on civic, Social and human development for the masses as the major criteria to measure the success. Such as Mr. Chapra, who recognized a need for education and created a network to make it happen. That is what impacts the nation rather than stepping on the peak. Think about it. It is the difference between ego and humbleness.

    • Zohare Ali Shariff says:

      Samina’s conquest of Everest at age 21, coming as she does from a poor uneducated family, not supported for a penny by anyone in Pakistan – neither government, nor corporate sector, nor civil society, is well beyond a personal achievement. It is the most powerful statement ever to come out of Pakistan for women empowerment, and God only knows how much this is needed in our deeply misogynist society. Even as a personal achievement, let no one be in any doubt at the huge magnitude of this achievement. This is not like winning a medal in Asian Games or even Olympics. There you either win or you lose. Conquering Everest is potential death at every step. Just the winds at high altitude can blow an elephant off the mountain. And here we are talking about a young girl, 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighing about 45 kgs.

  3. Abdur Rauf Khan says:

    Amazing blog about 10 amazing Pakistanies,the Pride of Pakistan.

  4. Sajid Ahmed says:

    Totally messed up in the order, as I think achievements of social workers and scientists are far reaching in their impact on the society as whole than those of singers and sportsmen.

    • Zohare Ali Shariff says:

      You are welcome to share your own list, Sajid. The impact of an achievement on others can seldom be empirically measured. Maybe possible in case of someone like Dr. Adeeb Rizvi, in terms of number of patients treated or operations carried out, but the impact of sportsperson and musicians is more subjective, in terms of inspiring and motivating people, in terms of just providing people of a forlorn country something to feel happy about and in terms of getting some good news at least associated with our country.

  5. Dr.Behrouz Hashim says:

    You forgot the father of our nation
    Quaid e Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah

    • Idris Saigal says:

      In case British Government agrees to publish Secret Documents relating to Independence Plan of June 1946 the personality would become questionable in history of Pakistan.British Government sold Kashmir to a Hindu raja.It was British Government who gave access to India on Kashmir through Gurdaspur (muslim majority district)and due to this people of Sub-Continet are suffering since last 69 years and many leaders in 1946 signed to these secret papers accepting these.

  6. i proud to be Pakistani BEST WISHES

  7. razia says:

    why Malala is not included?????

  8. Iftikhar Syed says:

    Muhammad Burhan Khan ex Pak airforce pilot along with his son Khatab Muhammad travelled around the world on motor byce last year going through China Mangolia Russia Canada US England Euorope Turkey Iran n back to Pakistan. Took him 3 months without any back up. Very few have taken a round trip by land in this world. Please check out.

  9. maloquacious says:

    Bravo! Informative, educational and enlightening. Truly proud to see Prof Abdus Salam rightly included in the list. Thank you!

  10. amna laghari says:

    We need these ppl learned about in our schools. They shd be mentioned in our books. We are just as amazing as th rest of th world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *