Ambassador Burhan hailed as top diplomat

Ambassador Burhan hailed as top diplomat
Last respects: Relatives and colleagues express their condolences to family members of the late Indonesian Ambassador to Pakistan Burhan Muhammad, whose body was laid out at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta, Tuesday. Burhan was among the victims of a recent helicopter crash in Pakistan.

Indonesian Ambassador to Pakistan Burhan Muhammad, who died on Tuesday morning after being treated for eight days for severe burns in Singapore, has been praised by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, who has described the former senior intelligence official as one of the country's top diplomats.

"The Foreign Ministry has lost one of its best diplomats," the minister said of Burhan, who submitted his credentials to the Pakistani government in November 2012.

Ambassador Burhan succumbed to his wounds on Tuesday at 12:50 a.m. local time after undergoing intensive treatment at the Singapore General Hospital. He was 58 years old.

The military helicopter in which he was traveling crashed just prior to landing in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan on May 8. There were 17 people on board.

The incident took the life of his wife, Hery Listyawati Burhan, the wife of a Malaysian envoy, as well as the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines and three Pakistani crew members.

The Pakistani government said the crash was caused by engine failure. The Mi-17 chopper crashed into an empty school.

The group was scheduled to attend a ceremony led by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Burhan, a former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) official, was promptly treated for 70 per cent burns. His wife was buried in Yogyakarta on Friday. Pakistani Defence Production Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain accompanied her body to Yogyakarta.

Meanwhile, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed their sadness over the tragic incident.

"I express my condolences for the death of our ambassador at the Singapore General Hospital. May he rest at the side of God and we hope that the family remains strong in times of hardship," said the President, opening a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The ambassador leaves behind two teenage sons, who had been with him throughout his hospitalisation in Singapore since May 12. Burhan's brother and Indonesian Ambassador to Bahrain Chilman Arisman was also present during Burhan's treatment, according to the minister.

Burhan's body arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday evening for a funeral service at the Foreign Ministry, to provide an opportunity for the public to pay their final respects. According to ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir, Burhan's body will be delivered to his family in Yogyakarta using a special aircraft following a funeral procession at the ministry's Pancasila building on Tuesday evening.

After government officials, family members and other mourners were given time to pay their respects, Arrmanatha said Burhan's body would be laid to rest on Wednesday morning in Yogyakarta at the latest.

After the crash, Burhan was placed in constant medical care and was relocated from Khairan in Gilgit region to Islamabad; from Islamabad to Chennai, India; and finally from Chennai to Singapore.

"[Burhan's] condition when he arrived in Singapore on May 12 was already worrisome. He did recover somewhat at one point, but on Monday his condition deteriorated and he was [fighting to] his last breath this morning at 12:50 a.m.," Arrmanatha told reporters on Tuesday.

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