Eminent horticulturist Dr Abdul Karim Khan, who passed away last Sunday, was fondly called Baba-i-baghbani Pakistan (Pakistan’s Father of Horticulture); he is widely acknowledged for pioneering horticultural and landscaping activities in Pakistan.
Born in Jaipur in 1924, Dr Khan’s career spanned over 70 years and began at the Agriculture Department in Kabul; in 1947, he shifted to Pakistan permanently, where one of his first undertakings was the establishment of the Horticultural Society of Pakistan in 1948.
A staunch advocate of women’s empowerment, Khan strongly believed that women would play an instrumental role in increasing awareness of and broadening the scope of horticultural activities in Pakistan. His unrelenting commitment to this cause resulted in the establishment of the Ladies Horticultural Club in 1964.
Given Khan’s love for all things botanical, it was during his tenure as the director of Parks & Recreationa at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation that annual flower, fruit and vegetable shows became a regular calendar event in Pakistan.
In addition to being a seasoned horticulturist, Dr Khan was an acclaimed researchergonomic answer author. He wrote several books- including The Gardener , The Vegetables , The Fruits, The Plants’ Scientific and Local Names and Plants, Garden and The Quran – that have become part of the academic curriculum at Pakistani and international educational institutions that offer courses in horticulture, botany and landscaping.
As recognition for his myriad accomplishments – which included representing Pakistan at the 13th International Horticultural Congress in London, and being the first Asian to be elected as an Honorary Member of the Landscape Institute in United Kingdom- Dr Khan was received the the President’s Award for Pride of Performance in 1990 and the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2009.
Dr Khan’s introduction to his most widely read book, The Gardener, sums up his lifelong passion for horticulture in the best possible way: ”I shall consider my labour well-spent , if it can help to make our homes more colourful, our cities more beautiful, our environment free of pollution and Pakistan more green and fragrant.”
By Ayesha Shaikh