LAHORE/KARACHI: Acclaimed novelist Mohsin Hamid and veteran actor and producer Khaled Anam were honoured on Friday, with the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) by the government of Pakistan, for their contributions towards literature, arts and culture, respectively. Mohsin Hamid is a renowned writer, who propelled to fame with his novel Moth Smoke, for which he won crictial acclaim. While talking exclusively to Daily Times, the award-winning novelist said, “The honour took me completely by surprise. One of my friends in a Whatsapp group told me about it and I honestly thought he was joking, until he forwarded me a link of a newspaper story, in which my name was part of the honourees. Later, an official from the government department called me to brief me about the award ceremony. On the morning of Pakistan Day, (Friday), I headed over to the Governor House, with both my parents. They told me I could bring two guests along and so I took my parents with me. It was quite a memorable moment for me. There were around 20 people present. People who have contributed immensely to their respective fields and who belong from various walks of life were present and it indeed felt great to rub shoulders with them.”Hamid says later his name was called out and he made his way to where the Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana was standing. His accomplishments were read out and the governor handed him the Star of Excellence which he wore around his neck. Separately in Karachi, veteran actor and producer and Khaled Anam was also awarded with the Sitara-i-Imtiaz for his exceptional services in the field of arts and culture. Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair handed over the honour to Anam, who was flanked by his family. The Sitara-i-Imtiaz is the third highest honour and civilian award of Pakistan. It recognises individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests, world peace, cultural or other significant public endeavors.This award is not limited to the citizens of Pakistan and it can also be awarded to foreign citizens based on their achievements and services done for Pakistan. While, it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military officers of the Pakistan Defence Forces worn on their uniform for recognition of their services to the country. To receive this honor, the individuals are expected to show eminence and be outstanding in providing excellent service in a significant field of activity beyond what they are assigned to.Published in Daily Times, March 24th 2018.