Many accolades have been extended and still more shall be to this most distinguished of diplomats who passed away this week.

His patrician Rampur pedigree, military training at Dehra Dun (also my father’s alma mater), eventful army career, and exalted ambassadorial appointments could be discussed for days, months, and years to come.

His linguistic prowess - acquired famously during his WW2 incarceration in Monte Cassino - was legendary, and likewise an ace in his array of diplomatic skills. His impeccable English inspired William Safire to devote an entire column in the New Yorker to Sahibzada Sb’s use of the words ‘resile’ and ‘glacis’. His expertise in his native Urdu needs no elaboration.

The purpose of this piece is to record an individual appreciation of the personal touches that made Sahibzada Yaqub-Khan: General, Ambassador, and Foreign Minister; both likeable and charming, and thus someone held in real regard by all who came across him in whatever capacity.

My first encounter with Sahibzada and Begum Yaqub was in 1972 in Paris. My father, then our Ambassador to Bonn, had brought me there enroute to commencing my first year at Oxford to see the spectacular ‘Flying Horse’ at the Tang Dynasty exhibition, then at the Louvre, that was taking the world by storm.

Ambassador Yaqub-Khan had our hotel bookings cancelled with a graceful wave of the hand, and took us off to the Residence - the magnificent abode mercifully still in Pakistan’s possession - near the Champs Elysees. Here we were welcomed by a very young Begum Yaqub Khan, and their two little boys Samad and Najib. We duly described our few delightful Parisian days to my mother, and remembered our hosts’ hospitality always.

In 1973 Sahibzada Yaqub-Khan was our Ambassador to Washington DC, and my elder brother Tariq Osman his Second Secretary, and the recipient as he recalls of his boss’s affection as well as guidance. I met the Yaqub-Khans again that summer, when my younger brother Saad Salman and I were visiting Tariq. We were invited to a lovely lunch at the Residence, Ambassador Yaqub genial as always, and Begum Tuba likewise receiving us graciously, wearing a peach-pink sari perfect for the season.

The boys were watching television in the very room where Tariq and the other Embassy kiddos viewed cartoons every Sunday at Ambassador Ispahani’s invitation when my parents were posted in DC in the late 1940s.

In 1979 Sahibzada and Begum Yaqub-Khan followed my parents to Moscow, where he succeeded his friend and colleague as Ambassador .

When my father wrote his memoirs a decade later, after retiring to Islamabad, he incorporated in his account of the much-misunderstood non-visit to Russia of Mr. Liaquat Ali a discerning cameo portrait of his ADC: ‘The Prime Minister and Begum Liaquat Ali Khan’s personal staff was to include a young, dashing Lieut. Col. Yaqub Khan, who spoke Russian besides other European languages’. Little could he have known at the time that one day he would be chosen to be Foreign Minister of Pakistan. (Reflections of An Ambassador Ch 2, ‘The Visit That Never Was’, p 11). Or that he would one day actually represent Pakistan in Russia.

The families’ paths crossed often from the early 1980s on. Tariq again had the privilege of working under Sahibzada Yaqub, then Foreign Minister, as Director Gulf at the Ministry. We got to know and became friends with Samad and Najib. Sahibzada Yaqub-Khan, with that characteristic combination of elegance and affection, wrote the foreword for my mother’s book ‘Delhi Yaad Ati Hae’; and would address me as ‘Rani Begum’.

Sahibzada Sb’s Personal Assistant Mr. Aale Nabi, who remained attached to him throughout his retirement, is likewise well known to us since he worked with my father, then Ambassador to Baghdad, in the 1960s.

He from UP, and her forebears Iranis settled in South India, the Yaqub-Khans were a dignified and distinctive couple, often gracing events from select dinners to weddings to diplomatic dos: she svelte and youthfully silver-haired, timelessly elegant in saris; and he with his classic demeanor, debonair in his Savile Row suits. Samad’s recent marriage brought them great joy, as did Najib’s current visit on a long holiday from far-off Australia.

My one regret remains not taking a framed copy of the photo of his first stop in his 1982 Gulf tour accompanying this article to him; probably confused by an idea of having already done so, but more so because - as with those few iconic, institution-like individuals one knows - I must have assumed he was immortal.