Pakistani lawyer sheds 100kg to fit into quintessential black coat

The undated photo collage shows Ahmed Yar Hamayun through different phases of his life. (Photo courtesy: Ahmed Yar Hamayun)
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Updated 14 July 2023

Pakistani lawyer sheds 100kg to fit into quintessential black coat

  • Ahmed Yar Hamayun lost the weight in 20 months through regime of diet and exercise
  • Hamayun started gaining weight at age five, put on so much it was difficult for him to walk 

QUETTA: Ahmed Yar Hamayun nodded and smiled as he interacted with lawyers at a district court in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta earlier this week, exuding calm and confidence in his well-fit black suit.

For most lawyers, wearing a black coat, widely considered a kind of uniform for attorneys, is nothing out of the ordinary. 

But for Hamayun, fitting into a tailor-made suit was the culmination of a long journey — one that required chasing a dream and losing 100 kilograms in 20 months to make it come true. 

“[While pursuing my law degree] in 2020, I saw my friends discussing the lawyers’ professional black uniform, but it made me depressed [that] how would I be able to wear the uniform with my excessive weight,” Hamayun, who used to weigh 165 kilograms, told Arab News.

“I was very much passionate about becoming a lawyer, and this profession brought a turning point in my life where I succeeded in shedding 100 kilograms to shape my body and carry my uniform.”

Hamayun started gaining weight when he was only five years old, putting on so much that it even hampered his ability to walk on his own. Fat shaming by classmates and neighborhood kids didn’t make things any easier.

“Some of his friends used to make fun of him,” Hamayun’s father Hamayun Sabir told Arab News. “Classmates and neighborhood boys used to tease him. So, definitely, we were under a little mental stress.”

Barrister Muzaffar Azam Umrani, who taught law at Quetta’s City School of Law, recalled how worried the young lawyer’s friends and teachers were about his weight hindering his professional life as it was difficult for him to even walk.

“Today, losing weight has become a tough practice for many people in our society but Ahmed Yar has worked really hard and set an example for us all, that if you stick to the correct diet,” Umrani said.

Indeed, though his family turned to doctors and religious scholars to find a solution to Hamayun’s weight problem, ultimately, the young man brought about the remarkable transformation himself by following a strict diet plan. 

He stuck to one meal a day on most days, did not eat wheat for over two years, went to the gym two hours daily and played badminton frequently. He downloaded a calories counter on his cellphone to track his food intake and also relied on fitness apps on his mobile phones, and turned to pages on Facebook and other social media platforms for guidance.

All of this, he said, was guided by the “burning desire” to one day fit into a lawyer’s coat. 

“Obviously, when I wear the lawyer’s uniform over my transformed body, I feel very blessed and I always say thanks to Allah, who helped me in achieving my goal,” he said.

And Hamayun isn’t the only one beaming with joy.

“Today, when I see my son wearing the lawyer’s uniform and going to court,” his father said, “it gives me immense pleasure.”

Pakistan dispatches eight relief consignment for Gaza via Egypt

Updated 21 April 2024

Pakistan dispatches eight relief consignment for Gaza via Egypt

  • Israel’s war on Gaza has killed at least 34,097 people since October 7, Palestinian health ministry says
  • Pakistan does not recognize Israel, calls for an independent Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday dispatched another consignment of relief goods for the people of Gaza, the Pakistani foreign office said, amid Israel continuing airstrikes and ground offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory.
This is the eighth consignment, comprising food items, medical supplies and other relief goods, sent by Pakistan for the Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Pakistani foreign office.
The 400-ton shipment was dispatched for Port Said in Egypt during a handing over ceremony at the Karachi port that was attended by Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed Jawad Rabei and Pakistani officials.
“The shipment will be received by the Ambassador of Pakistan to Egypt at Port Said and handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent for its onward delivery to Gaza,” the foreign office said in a statement.
The development came as the Palestinian health ministry said at least 34,097 people had been killed during more than six months of Israel’s war on Gaza.
The tally included at least 48 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said on Sunday, adding that 76,980 people had been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
The foreign office said Islamabad remained committed to addressing the urgent needs of the Palestinian brothers and sisters as they faced a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for three-day visit— foreign office 

Updated 21 April 2024

Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan on Monday for three-day visit— foreign office 

  • Iranian president to arrive with his spouse and high-level delegation to discuss bilateral cooperation, says FO
  • Visit an important opportunity for Pakistan and Iran to strengthen ties rooted in history and religion, says FO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office confirmed on Sunday that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit the country from Apr. 22-24, describing his trip as an “important opportunity” for both countries to strengthen bilateral ties and enhance cooperation. 

Raisi’s visit takes place days after Iran and Israel exchanged drone and missile strikes, escalating tensions in the already volatile Middle East. 

“President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will undertake an official visit to Pakistan from 22 to 24 April 2024,” the foreign office said in a statement. 

“This will be the first visit by any Head of State to Pakistan after the general elections in February 2024.”

Pakistan and Iran are often at odds with each other over instability on their shared border, with both countries routinely trading blame for not rooting out militancy.

Tensions surged in January when Pakistan and Iran exchanged air strikes, both claiming to target alleged militant hideouts in each other’s countries. Both sides have since then undertaken peace overtures and restored bilateral ties. 

Pakistan’s foreign office said Raisi will visit with his spouse and a high-level delegation, comprising Iran’s foreign minister and other cabinet members and a “large” business delegation.

The Iranian president would meet Pakistan’s president, prime minister, Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker and visit Lahore and Karachi where he will meet the provincial leadership of the country. 

“The two sides will have a wide-ranging agenda to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran ties and enhance cooperation in diverse fields including trade, connectivity, energy, agriculture, and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign office said. 

Discussions would also focus on regional and global developments as well as bilateral cooperation to combat “terrorism,” the statement added. 

“Pakistan and Iran enjoy strong bilateral ties anchored in history, culture and religion,” the foreign office said. “This visit provides an important opportunity to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran relations.”

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

Updated 21 April 2024

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

  • No group has yet claimed responsibility for the two attacks since Thursday
  • A recent surge in attacks in Pakistan has soured its relations with Afghanistan 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Unknown gunmen killed two customs officers in western Pakistan, officials said on Sunday, following the killing of five other customs officials in the area in recent days.

No group has claimed responsibility for the two attacks since Thursday, which police said they were investigating.

Security in regions of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent years. Attacks, some claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militant group, have risen, mostly targeting police and security officials.

“Customs officials were present for checks... when unknown persons opened fire,” said the district deputy superintendent of police, Muhammad Adnan, adding that two people were injured and the area on a busy highway had been cordoned off.

“Three days ago, five officials, including an officer, of the customs department, were killed in a shooting in the same area and the attackers escaped,” he said.

The rise in attacks has escalated tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban administration.

Pakistan, saying militants have been using Afghan territory to launch attacks, has called on the Taliban to take action and carried out an airstrike last month on Afghan territory.

The Taliban have denied allowing the use of Afghan soil for militancy and said Pakistan’s security issues are a domestic issue for Islamabad.

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

Updated 21 April 2024

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

  • Opened in 1895 in Karachi, Bhagat Tarachand has over 25 branches in India
  • Founder’s family migrated to Mumbai upon the partition of British Raj in 1947

NEW DELHI/KARACHI: Some of the oldest dishes at the Bhagat Tarachand restaurant are the potato curries that Prakash Chawla’s grandfather had cooked at a small eatery in 19th-century Karachi. Nearly 130 years later, they are still on the menu, although across the border, in Mumbai.

Established by Tarachand Chawla in 1895, the restaurant started in the seaside megapolis and the capital of what is now the Pakistani province of Sindh.

It served simple meals of Sindhi roti — wheat flour bread spiced with onions and ghee — and seasonal vegetables.

Initially nameless, Chawla’s eatery soon became known after his name and the honorific “bhagat” (a noble man) that people had added to it in reverence.

“My grandfather was a generous man, and he wouldn’t let anyone go hungry, whether that person had money or not. That way ‘bhagat’ was added to his name,” Prakash told Arab News.

Bhagat Tarachand died in Karachi in 1942, a few years before the partition of the British Raj.

The undated file photo shows the chole bhatura platter from the menu of Bhagat Tarachand restaurant. (Photo courtesy: Bhagat Tarachand)

In 1947, when it was split into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, his sons, including Prakash’s father, Khemchand, moved to Mumbai on the Indian side — some 900 km away.

The family became part of one of the biggest migrations in history, which forced about 15 million people to swap countries in a political upheaval that cost more than a million lives.
“It was not an easy beginning after moving to India, with my father struggling to establish the restaurant in Zaveri Bazaar,” Prakash said. “It was just a six-table eatery.”

The restaurant has since been officially known as Bhagat Tarachand, in memory of its founder.

Once the business started to flourish, Khemchand’s brothers opened different branches. He remained at the original location in the historical Mumbai gold market, where Prakash started to work at the age of 19.

Nearly half a century later, he is still leading the business, has expanded it into a four-story restaurant, and new dishes to the menu.

Now one of India’s leading vegetarian restaurants, Bhagat Tarachand has 25 branches led by Prakash and his cousins across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The most popular meal at his outlets is a vegetarian platter.

The undated file photo shows popular items from the menu of Bhagat Tarachand restaurant. (Photo courtesy: Bhagat Tarachand)

“In the vege platter, we give three types of vegetables, lentils, chapati, rice or pilav, as per your choice, one sweet dish, one crispy item, and a pickle,” he said. “It is sufficient for two people”.

Some other flavors have been there since the Karachi times: aloo matar — potato and pea curry — and aloo methi — potato and fenugreek curry.

“Those are some of the oldest dishes that we’ve been serving since at least my father remembers,” said Vishal Chawla, Prakash’s son, who helps him run the business.

“When my great-grandfather ran the restaurant, my grandfather, and even to a certain extent my father, there was no menu card. They used to write just the dish of the day ... It depended on, you know, what were the fresh vegetables available in the market.”

Setting sights on expansion to the UAE and Singapore, both of which have significant Indian diasporas, Vishal has been also thinking about his ancestral city.

But as long as India and Pakistan have a complicated relationship, even obtaining a visa is not easy. One of his uncles has already tried, but to no avail.

“I hope that our countries have better relations in the future, at least in my lifetime ... And if that becomes a possibility, I would love to reconnect with the roots of this restaurant,” he said.

“From the perspective of our restaurant and family, they are all proud that they are able to continue this legacy.”

Roedad Khan, veteran Pakistani civil servant with front-row seat to history, passes away at 100

Updated 21 April 2024

Roedad Khan, veteran Pakistani civil servant with front-row seat to history, passes away at 100

  • Roedad Khan served with five presidents and three prime ministers during his lengthy career in civil service 
  • Khan entered civil service in 1949 and served as secretary of various ministries and adviser to prime minister

ISLAMABAD: Roedad Khan, one of the first civil servants of Pakistan and a longtime observer of the tumultuous history and politics of the 77-year-old country, passed away in Islamabad on Sunday at the age of 100.

Khan will be laid to rest today at the H-11 graveyard in Islamabad. 

“Roedad Khan passed away today at 101,” veteran journalist and anchor Hamid Mir wrote on social media platform X. 

Senior politician Mushahid Hussain Syed paid tribute to Khan in a post on X, referring to him as a “national icon and legend.”

“He lived a full life of service to Pakistan during our tumultuous periods + post-retirement,” Syed wrote, crediting him for authoring several books and championing human rights. 

“Truly a unique, multifaceted personality of our times! He will be missed by his countless admirers!“

 Khan was born on September 28, 1923, in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Mardan before the country gained its independence from British colonial India in 1947. After entering the Pakistan Civil Service in 1949, Khan’s distinguished career as a bureaucrat allowed him to serve in many prestigious roles. 

He served as the chief secretary of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province and the chief secretary of KP and was also appointed as the managing director of the state-owned Pakistan Television. He also served as the secretary of the ministries of information, labor, tourism and interior throughout various governments. 

Khan also served as the secretary-general of the interior ministry and as a former adviser to the prime minister. 

The Pakistani civil servant served with five presidents and three former prime ministers, allowing him to be a witness to the country’s political upheavals. 

He turned 100 last year on September 28, 2023.