ISLAMABAD                -             Naeemul Haque, a trusted aide and a loyalist of Prime Minister Imran Khan, passed away on Saturday after battling blood cancer for the last two years.

A banker by profession and one of the co-founders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Naeem was a witness to many ups and down of the life of his friend Imran Khan since his cricket days. He died at the age of 70 in Karachi.

His loyalty to his friend and commitment to the party finds no example.

While the condolences over his demise started pouring in from all over the country soon after the news of his death, Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to say with a heavy heart and remarked, “Am devastated by one of my oldest friend Naeem’s passing. He was one of the 10 founding members of the PTI & by far the most loyal. In 23 years of the PTI’s trials & tribulations, he stood by me. He was always there for support whenever we were at our lowest ebb.”

In his second Tweet, the PM said, “In the last two years I saw him battle cancer with courage and optimism. Till the very end he was involved in Party affairs and attended cabinet meetings as long as he was able. His passing has left an irreplaceable void.”

Naeem had been living for many years in a rented house in Islamabad’s Bani Gala area after moving to Karachi in 2012 and it was his daily routine to go to Imran Khan’s house, located in the same vicinity, early in the morning and return late at night till PTI became the ruling party.

Born on July 11, 1949 in Karachi, he did his M.A. in English Literature from University of Karachi (1970) and LLB from Sindh Muslim Law College Karachi (1971). After practicing law for some time, he joined the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and was part of the team that established the NBP branch at UN Plaza in New York City. Then he moved to London in 1980 as a merchant banker for Oriental Credit Limited.

In early 1980s, he developed close intimacy with Khan at a time when he used to play county cricket. Khan used to frequently visit Naeem and his wife, Nazli Jamil, who was nicknamed as Nazo by her spouse. Naeem and Khan became close friends when latter developed a stress fracture in 1983, and former gave his exercise bike to him for quick healing.

Before joining PTI, he had joined Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s Tehreek Istiqlal party in London in 1984 and then moved back to Karachi a couple of years later where he set up his leasing company business and pursued political career. He also contested the 1988 elections from Tehreek Istiqlal ticket in Orangi Town of the metropolitan city and faced defeat. However, defeat couldn’t shake his political interests till his death.

In 1996, he became one of the founding members of the PTI and started helping his friend Imran Khan to deal with the party affairs.