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Mohyeddin was the founding chair and later president emeritus of Pakistan's premier National Academy of Performing Arts.

Legendary Artist Zia Mohyeddin Dies At 91

Zia Mohyeddin, a renowned actor and orator, passed away on Monday morning in Karachi.

Mohyeddin, 91, had been receiving treatment in a hospital and was on life support when he died at 6:30 a.m.

He was a beloved figure in the realms of theatre, film, and television, and was deeply revered by all who knew him. Mohyeddin was born in Faisalabad (then Lyallpur) on April 7, 1931. Mohyeddin was a prolific performer with a career spanning over six decades.

During the 1950s, Mohyeddin studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London, considered one of the best acting schools in the world.

He rose to international prominence for his role as Tafas in the 1962 classic “Lawrence of Arabia.” A critical and commercial success, the film was directed by David Lean. It starred Peter O’Toole, with Mohyeddin receiving accolades and fans from around the world for portraying an Arab guide.

In addition to being a cinema classic, the film is a testament to Mohyeddin’s talent as an actor.

Additionally, he worked with Fred Zinnemann on “Behold the Pale Horse” in 1964, and Jamil Dehlavi on “Immaculate Conception” in 1992.


Aside from his movie roles, Mohyeddin was a prolific stage actor, appearing in numerous productions in Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and around the globe.

In the late 1960s, he returned to Pakistan and hosted a top-rated TV talk show for Pakistan Television, The Zia Mohyeddin Show (1969-73).

In 1977, he developed differences with Gen. Zia ul-Haq’s government and returned to Britain to produce the multicultural Here and Now (1986-1989) for Central Television, now ITV.

His work as a regular performer on radio and television further cemented his place as one of Pakistan’s greatest cultural ambassadors as one of the world’s most renowned reciters of Urdu prose and poetry.

In 2005, he founded the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi, at the request of then-president Pervez Musharraf. He served as its chairman before becoming its emeritus president.

NAPA boasts renowned alumni, including Fawad Khan, and has established itself as a leading performing arts institution in just a short time.

His students say Mohyeddin remained dedicated to the arts throughout his life, observing that his legacy will endure as a testament to his talent and passion for the industry. In the eyes of his admirers, his passing marks the end of an era in the world of entertainment.

His life was all about theatre, his all-consuming passion for it. It kept him alive said Khan, to Al-Jazeera.

In 2012, Mohyeddin was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civilian honors for his contributions to the industry.

A condolence message from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said: “Zia Sahib possessed a wealth of exceptional qualities that captivated individuals for over five decades. Many students will carry on his legacy under his guidance. May Allah bless them with elevated status.”

Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, said Mohyeddin was “a cultured man, extremely well-read in Urdu literature and an institution in the entertainment industry. He will be missed.”

Pakistan President Arif Ali said: “To me, it is a personal loss. He was a giant in the arts, an actor, producer, director & above all an excellent reciter of prose & poetry accompanied by music typically prompting with a pause.”

The funeral was held at Imambargah Yasrab in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) neighborhood of Karachi.

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