Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan led tributes for veteran comedian Umer Sharif who died in Germany on Saturday. Sharif, who was battling a number of health problems, was on his way to the US for medical treatment but was taken to a hospital in Germany when his condition deteriorated. He was 61, according to his Facebook page.
"Saddened to learn of Umar Sharif's passing. I had the good fortune of touring with him to raise funds for SKMT [Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust]. He was one of our great entertainers and will be missed. My prayers & condolences go to his family," Khan posted on Twitter.
Sharif, who suffered a heart attack in August, had earlier made an appeal to the prime minister to help him secure a visa to seek urgent medical help.
"The doctor has told me that I need to go abroad to receive the best treatment," he said in his message, broadcast on a Pakistani talk show. "I helped in the making of Imran Khan's Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital. I request Prime Minister Imran Khan to come to my support just like I have come to his whenever he has called me."
Sharif, accompanied by his wife Zareen Omer and a medical team, took off in an air ambulance on Tuesday bound for Virginia in the US. However, as his condition deteriorated, the flight diverted to Germany and he was treated in a Nuremberg hospital. He died shortly before a planned departure on Saturday, his son Jawad Umar said.
Pakistan's Ambassador to Germany, Mohammad Faisal, was one of the first to announce the actor's death.
"With deep sorrow it is announced that Mr Umer Sharif has passed away in Germany," the diplomat posted on Twitter.
As news of Sharif's death spread, tributes began to pour in for the actor.
"Complete loss of words on passing away of the legendary Umar Sharif sahab. May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannah and give his family peace. Ameen," actor, director and singer Ali Zafar posted.
Tributes also flowed from across the border, with Indian comedian Kapil Sharma calling him a legend.
"Alvida (goodbye) legend," Sharma posted.
Pakistani actor and writer Osman Khalid Butt called Sharif the "king of comedy".
“He was a true gem in our industry and nothing short of a legend amongst us," actor Faysal Quraishi posted on Instagram. "Heartbroken to receive the devastating news of our very own king of comedy Umer Sharif."
Born in 1960 in Karachi, Sharif began his career as a stage performer at the age of 14. He began making a name for himself with his plays, such as Bakra Qistoon Pe and Buddha Ghar Pe Hai, which were made available on video tapes and quickly became known for his satire, stand-up and live performances.
Sharif made his film debut in the 1980s and in 2009 began hosting his own TV talk show called The Shareef Show Mubarak Ho. He was the recipient of a number of Nigar Awards, Pakistan's popular entertainment award, and the national awards for his work as an actor as well as director.
Actress Sana Javed said "there can never be another Umer Sharif".
"Had the honour of working with Umer Sharif sahab. He was not just a comedian who made us laugh all the time, Umer Sharif was a legend who taught many around the world how to stay graceful while doing comedy. He inspired generations," she posted.
Arrangements were being made to take Sharif’s body home to Pakistan for the funeral, his family said. Sharif leaves behind his wife and two sons.