KARACHI - Renowned scholar, researcher, scientist and Vice Chancellor of Karachi University Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan was laid to rest inside the varsity on Saturday. He had passed away in the wee hours of Saturday in the age of 67. Dr Khan was survived by a widow and three daughters.

The eminent educationist was suffering from cardiovascular disease and went to a private hospital for a dental check-up on Friday where his condition deteriorated yesternight and later he breathed his last.

His funeral prayers were offered at Jamia Masjid Ibrahim, which was attended by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, social activist Shahzad Roy, Provincial Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah, Special Assistants to Sindh CM - Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani, and Nabeel Zubari of Pakistan People’s Party, Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, Syed Mairajul Huda and Osama Razi of Jamaat-e-Islami, Syed Faisal Subzwari and Syed Aminul Haq of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Syed Mustafa Kamal of Pak Sarzamin Party, former KU VC Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser, and ex-KU VC and incumbent vice chancellor of Ziauddin University Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, NED VC Prof Dr Sarosh Lodhi, VC Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Lyari Prof Dr Akhtar Baloch, VC Sindh University Prof Dr Muhammad Barfat, VC Nazeer Hussain University Prof Dr Muhammad Ahmed Qadri, VC Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, Prof Dr Syed Altaf Hussain, VC Iqra University Waseem Qazi and other noted political and social personalities as well as varsity’s Registrar and controller examinations, members Syndicate, Senate, various head of the departments, large number of teaching and non-teaching staff and students, president of Unikarians International Prof Ejaz Ahmed Faruqi and others. Meanwhile, the KU administration has announced that all classes and examinations scheduled for Sunday (today) have been postponed, for which new dates would be announced later. The schedule academic activities remain suspended on Saturday as well. The KU is also holding a reference meeting at 10am at Arts Auditorium on Monday which would be followed by Quran Khawani at Jamia Masjid Ibrahim, KU. Born on July 1, 1952, Dr Khan became 17th vice chancellor of the public sector university in January 2017. Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan was a noted Pakistani botanist and his teaching and research career spans over 44 years. For his outstanding services in plant sciences, he had received numerous prestigious local and international awards including Presidential Award of Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2008. He had also received Fellowship of Fulbright Academy of Sciences and The World Innovation Foundation, Switzerland in 2006, HEC-Distinguished National Professor and Honor Professor, Shijiazhuang Institute for Agriculture Modernization, PR China in 2005, Fellow Third World Academy of Science in 2003, Fellow Pakistan Academy of Science and Presidential Award of the Pride of Performance in August in 2001.

Meanwhile, he was given the status of Meritorious Professor. He had also received title of Distinguished Scientist of the year 2008 in Botany as well as Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS), Fellow of Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), Fellow, Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Distinguished Visiting Professor, King Saud University, KSA and Qatar Shell Professorial Chair in Sustainable Development, Qatar University.

He was the recipient of Ohio University Teaching Assistantship (1980-1984); National Science Foundation, USA postdoctoral fellowship at Brigham Young University, USA (1984-1985); DAAD study visit to University of Munster, Germany (1994); Fulbright visiting scholar, Ohio University, USA (1995-1996) and Adjunct Professorship in the Brigham Young University, USA (1996-1997).

He was an elected member of Sigma Xi, USA, (1985), and Regular Associate member of Dr Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics, Italy (1990). During the year 2000 Dr Khan was awarded Pakistan Academy of Science and INFAQ Foundation joint gold medal (1999) in the field of Botany.

Based on Information Science Institute, Baltimore, USA Journal Citation Report, the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology had ranked him among the leading scientists of all disciplines.

Prof Khan was rated among top five biologists among the Islamic countries by COMSTECH. He was given the status of Honour Professor (Adjunct Professor), Shijiazhuang Institute for Agricultural Modernization, Hebei, China.

The salt tolerant plants (halophytes), physiology, biochemistry and ecophysiology; cash-crop halophytes was his research interest topics and through his research, he was engaged in development of varieties of halophytes for special uses, salt tolerance mechanisms, seed biology of halophytes.

During his teaching career, the subjects like physiological ecology of plants, plant ecology, plant population biology, seed biology and evolutionary ecology always get his attention.

Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan was awarded DSc, in Botany from University of Karachi, 2010, PhD in Physiological Ecology from Ohio University in 1985, MSc in Plant Physiology from Karachi University in 1974 and BSc (Hons) in Botany from KU in 1973. He did his intermediate from Jamia Millia College and matriculation also from a government school.

He was highest ranked botanists of Pakistan and served the University of Karachi as a regular faculty till 2012 and as a visiting Professor in several universities of China, Germany, Qatar, UK, and USA.

He was also the Chairman, Core Committee of International experts to rehabilitate coastal Sabkha in UAE by Environmental Agency, UAE and visiting Professor under Distinguished Scientist Fellowship Program, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.