by Heer Cheema
Ambassador Azmat Hassan, who passed away at the age of 75 on the 13th of January 2020, was an inspirational figure in, and an esteemed part of, not only the LUMS community, where he had taught successively for the last five years, but also the broader international community in his role as a former Ambassador of Pakistan.
Prior to entering the world of academia, Ambassador Azmat was a career diplomat for over three decades and was appointed Ambassador of Pakistan to Malaysia, Syria and Morocco. His other appointments included being named Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York (1979-80) and being named Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister of Pakistan for Foreign Affairs and Defense (1992-94). He expertly and thoughtfully navigated the world of international politics, remarking on the “complex” and “evolving” nature of diplomacy in the 20th Century.
During this time, he was a vocal proponent of interfaith cooperation on the global stage. In an interview during the 2013 Global Peace Convention in Malaysia, he stated: “To divide faith from practical aspects of life, from international relations is an artificial division…” He believed it was more productive to accept and confront the reality of diverse faiths and their impact on international relations. His commitment to, and passion for, issues in the international arena is also palpable through his writings; he would regularly write for the Huffington Post.
Drawing on this extensive experience in international relations, for the last two decades of his life, Ambassador Azmat was a beloved professor; first at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, where he was a senior faculty associate at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations and taught for eight years, and then later at LUMS where he joined the Political Science faculty.
His students, both current and old, remember him warmly. Safia Mahmood, a LUMS alumnus, upon hearing of Ambassador Azmat’s death, posted online: “I used to spend hours in his office. He made me type his emails and shared his views on the world.” She fondly recalled how he would always be telling “anecdotes” from “his time in Morocco” and stated that Ambassador Azmat was her “first mentor”.
Ambassador Azmat is also greatly missed by his colleagues. Dr. Taimur Rahman, a Professor of Political Science at LUMS, stated: “It was a shock when he passed away. There was no real indication he was unwell”. Dr. Rahman went on to recount: “I was a young faculty member when I joined, but I never felt any distance from him. He was down to earth and humble and spoke to me and others as equals.”
From the global stage to the classroom, Ambassador Azmat’s impact and teachings will not be forgotten. Ms. Mahmood’s description of Ambassador Azmat as a “valiant young spirit in a seemingly old body” truly captures the energy and positivity that Ambassador Azmat cultivated around him and in his students.
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