To Sahib Mehdi Hassan, with love
The ailing ghazal maestro doesn't have enough money to pay his medical bills. Ali Zafar and Salman Ahmad are raising funds to help him
While legendary ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan is battling for life at the Agha Khan University Hospital in Karachi, fellow Pakistani musicians are spreading the word about his financial condition.
The singer who was admitted to the hospital last week due to a chronic lung infection now requires over Rs 42 lakh for treatment, an amount his family is struggling to put together.
And that is why musicians like Salman Ahmed (of Junoon fame) and singer-turned-actor Zafar are trying to help raise funds for the ailing artist.
Says Salman who has been on the forefront of the cause - talking about it on radio stations and social networking sites, "Mehdi Hassan sahib is a Pakistani treasure loved by fans all over the world.
Our organisation SSGWI (Salman and Samina Gobal Welness Initiative) will help get him resources and medical attention. I've been talking about the need for support to arts and culture in Pakistan and will do the same for Hassan sahib as well."
When the 85-year-old ghazal maestro fell seriously ill in 2009, his family was unable to foot his medical bills. Son Arif Mehdi Hassan clearly stated that the family income was not sufficient to support the medical facilities.
The situation at this point is more or less the same, apart from the fact that the money required now is almost four times more.
Adds a source from Pakistan, "People say they will help, but there is no substantial support. Mehdi sahib has been suffering for years now and it is everyone's responsibility to help him." A group of Pakistani musicians are also planning to hold a charity concert.
Says Ali Zafar, "In my capacity I am spreading the word. We have even spoken to some officials of the Pakistan government. I am his second-generation shagird (student) and I have been listening to his music since childhood."
Last we heard was that the Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri has promised to help the legendary singer who has served the music industry for over 50 years.