Hakeem Baloch: US consulate staffer passes away at 27

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KARACHI: An information assistant at the US consulate in Karachi, Muhammad Hakeem Baloch, passed away at 27 on Wednesday of an undiagnosed illness at the Karachi Adventist Hospital.

He did not live to see his first wedding anniversary. Baloch’s family hailed from Balochistan and he was born in Karachi on October 23, 1984.

His elder brother Muhammad Aleem Baloch told The Express Tribune that Hakeem developed a high fever on Monday and was admitted to Kutiyana Memon Hospital for almost three days. He was only diagnosed with a seasonal viral fever but after two days he developed chest pain and breathing problems.

He was taken to the Karachi Adventist Hospital at around 2 pm on Wednesday where he died in early hours of the next day at around 1 am. “It was just written because he was fine some hours before his death and even took a round of the yard,” he said.

Baloch was laid to rest at Moriro Mirbahar graveyard in Sher Shah. His father, who works as an auditor at United Bank Limited, was in Quetta on business at the time of his death and could not attend the funeral because of a lack of transport.

His soyem will be held at his house in Lyari on Friday.

For his family, Baloch was an extremely motivated individual. He matriculated in Science from the private Allama Iqbal School in Lyari and changed his subjects to Commerce to study at DHA College for Men for the intermediate level.

He went on to study at the University of Karachi and completed his Master’s in Economics in 2007. After that he started working as a journalist for daily Tawar, an Urdu language newspaper for the Baloch people based in Karachi. He spent almost three years at his first job and later moved on to work at Geo News and then Express News, as an associate producer.

Hakeem completed a second master’s degree in International Relations in 2010. He started working for the US consulate in Karachi in July 2011.

“I saw him grow from a nobody into somebody,” said Sajid Hussain, his best friend. “And it’s all because of his daring and exploring nature.” According to him, Baloch was extremely knowledgable; for example, he knew a great deal about classic films, “even the French ones” and was well read.

His brother Nadim was at a loss for words. Hakeem was almost a mentor for him. “He taught me how to use a computer, and helped me with different subjects when I was at school,” he told The Express Tribune.

The US consulate expressed its sorrow on the passing of “a dear colleague and friend”. “He touched the lives of all those he came across,” said a statement. “He will be sorely missed. May his soul rest in peace.”

Colleague Kevin Murakami, a public affairs officer, who joined the consulate around the same time, said that people at the office were shocked to hear about Baloch’s death as he was so very young. “He was a dear, trusted colleague and a gentleman in every sense of the word,” he said. “I miss him already”.

Baloch was married last December. He is survived by his wife, parents, and four siblings.

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