Pakistan’s tallest man has some giant problems

1 / 7
Pakistan’s tallest man, Zia Rasheed, outside him home with the kids in Garha More, Punjab. (AN photo)
2 / 7
Zia Rasheed with an admirer at a shopping mall. (AN photo)
3 / 7
Pakistan’s tallest man at a park in Multan. (AN photo)
4 / 7
Pakistan’s tallest man Zia Rasheed, 23, poses with an admirer. (AN photo)
5 / 7
Pakistan’s tallest man Zia Rasheed, 23, poses with an admirer. (AN photo)
6 / 7
Zia Rasheed participates as chief guest in a sports festival. (AN photo)
7 / 7
Zia Rasheed with the people of his area. (AN photo)
Updated 15 February 2019

Pakistan’s tallest man has some giant problems

  • 23-year-old Zia Rasheed is often sickly, stays in bed watching tv and playing games on his phone
  • Says he never dreams of getting married, doesn’t consider it a possibility in his condition

GARHA MORE, Pakistan: Zia Rasheed had a normal childhood by most standards: he attended school, teased his five siblings and played crickets with his friends and cousins on the dusty streets of his village in central Pakistan. 
But his 12th birthday came with an incredible growth spurt. Now at 23, Rasheed measures 8 feet in height, making him the tallest man in Pakistan. He is only three inches shy of the world record for the tallest man on earth. The rest of his family, including his parents, four brothers and one sister, are all average-sized. 
But for all his uniqueness, the story of Rasheed’s life as he tells it is one of giant misfortune, ill health and increasingly, poverty. 
His massive height, measured and verified by Arab News at a local hospital, is due to a malfunction of the pituitary gland which causes benign tumors that in turn produce up to 1,000 times the normal amount of growth hormones. 
Rasheed has undergone three surgeries already but new and growing tumors will require more procedures, he told Arab News in Garha More, a town west of the Chenab River, about 100 km from the main city of Multan. 
Enduring medical problems have rendered Rasheed too weak to leave home on most days and his aching knees are hardly able to support his body weight. “I used to go meet friends in the area, my schoolmates, my childhood friends and my cousins, but due to my illnesses I feel very weak, I can’t walk comfortably,” Rasheed said. 
He said he spends his days at home, convalescing in a custom-made, 9-foot-long iron bed, watching films and playing games on his mobile phone. “It is difficult for me to go out now,” Rasheed said. 
Rasheed also has trouble finding clothes and shoes his size and cannot fit on public buses. He used to attend school but was forced to leave due to adjustment issues caused by his height. 
“It was difficult for me to continue in school because of my continuously growing height as I could not adjust with my classmates; they also did not feel comfortable with me around,” Rasheed said. “But my father made efforts and taught me at home. I passed my matriculation as a distance learner from Allama Iqbal Open University.”
Rasheed also had to give up on playing his favorite sport, cricket, once he grew too tall. He still goes to the grounds though, he said, and watches his friends play from the sidelines. 
Rasheed’s height has not been officially recognized by the Guinness World Records, or any other organization, so far. Currently, Pakistan’s tallest man is Naseer Soomro from Shikarpur, a district in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, who stands at 7 feet 10 inches tall. 
“I request authorities to help me get registered in the Guinness World Records book as I am the tallest person of Pakistan at the moment and still growing,” Rasheed said. “It is possible that I will break the world record in the near future.”
Rasheed says, if officially measured, he would also have the world’s longest hand measuring 11.5 inches from the wrist to the tip of his middle finger, compared to the standing record held by a Turk whose hand is 11.2 inches long. 
As of now, without official recognition, Rasheed says he attracts a fair amount of goggling and commentary, some of it complimentary, some not. People yelping in shock at the sight of him, or whipping out their cellphones and taking photos without permission are a routine occurrence in his life.
During a recent trip to perform the Umrah in Makkah, he said he got special protocol at the Kaaba and a guard cleared the way for him to kiss the Hajjr-e-Aswad (black stone). 
But his experience in Dubai was not so pleasant. 
“The person who took me there put me on display in a shopping mall and starting collecting money from people taking pictures with me,” Rasheed said. “I disliked that.”
“When strangers look at me and become surprised, I feel really uncomfortable,” he added. 
Right now, Rasheed says he has made peace with the idea that he might end up spending his life alone.
His father, a primary school teacher, is already having a hard time coughing up the money for medicines, doctors’ fees and the transportation costs of traveling to bigger cities for treatment. Finding a girl for Rasheed to marry is not on any one’s agenda. 
“I don’t think about getting married as I can’t afford it,” Rasheed said. “I am fully dependent on my parents who are taking care of my medical bills, food and shelter. I don’t want to put another burden on them.”
When asked if he had ever liked someone, he said: “I’ve never thought of trying to find a match, I’ve never tried it.”
What is, however, on Rasheed’s mind is his growing health problems and worries about how to pay medical bills. He hopes the government of Imran Khan, who came to power last year promising to implement a pro-poor agenda, will help. 
“It is becoming more and more difficult for my family to afford my expenses,” Rasheed said. “The government should help and make arrangements for my treatment. I need surgery again.”


Music icon Cher meets Pakistan PM ahead of elephant’s move

Updated 27 November 2020

Music icon Cher meets Pakistan PM ahead of elephant’s move

  • The famed singer has for years campaigned for Kaavan the elephant and is helping pay for his move
  • Cher tweeted that she thanked Khan “For Making It Possible For Me To Take Kaavan To Cambodia”

ISLAMABAD: American pop icon Cher met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday ahead of the relocation of an elephant from Islamabad’s dilapidated zoo to a Cambodian sanctuary.
The famed singer, who has for years campaigned for Kaavan the elephant and is helping pay for his move, arrived in the Pakistan capital this week to see the animal before the flight to Cambodia on Sunday.
“Appreciating her efforts in retiring Kaavan to an elephant sanctuary, the prime minister thanked Cher for her campaign and role in this regard,” a statement from Khan’s office read.
Cher tweeted that she thanked Khan “For Making It Possible For Me To Take Kaavan To Cambodia.”
The plight of Kaavan — an overweight, 35-year-old bull elephant — has drawn international condemnation and highlighted the woeful state of Islamabad’s zoo, where conditions are so bad a judge in May ordered all the animals to be moved.
A team of vets and experts from Four Paws, an Austria-based animal welfare group, has spent months working with Kaavan to get him ready for the journey to Cambodia.
Experts have trained Kaavan to enter a large metal crate that will be used to transport the animal to the airport.
Volunteers working with Kaavan say he responds well to music and singing, and Cher is expected to belt out a song or two for the elephant before he departs Islamabad.

Related