Mirza Ashfaque Beg, 69/Liaquat

Cdre.(R) Mirza Ashfaque Beg - 2007

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

Cdre. Mirza Ashfaque Beg, kit no. 69/Liaquat House joined Cadet College Petaro in 1959 in 9th class and left the college in 1963 after completing his Intermediate.

He was born on 26 June 1944 in Alwar State (adjacent to Jaipur State) in India, and was married to Mrs. Tasneem on 20 April 1972 at Karachi. They have 3 children - Ambreen, Sabeen and Arsalan (kit no. 8982/Latif).

His wife's late brothers Raja Azmat Kayani (202/Liaquat) and Raja Ajmal Kayani (330/Liaquat) were also Petarians.

Mirza Ashfaque Beg is the universal "Ashfaque Bhai" for all Petarians. He is a very loving Petarian and makes sure that he takes care of all the youngsters like us.

His native Alwar State is located between Delhi and Jaipur State. After the 1857 war, it is said that the Mughal princes who survived hid in Alwar State shortly after the war, and the British had their spies there to catch them and summarily execute them.

Ashfaque Beg's great grandfather joined the cavalry of Alwar State and his grandfather followed in the steps of his father to do the same. His father on the other hand chose to study Urdu (which was the official language of Jaipur State), and joined the government of Jaipur. He died in June 1945 - two years before Independence of Pakistan - while he was still in service and at a position of na'ib tehsildar.

Soon after the announcement of Independence on 14 August 1947, Hindu-Muslim riots started and the chaos and killings of Muslims were rampant particularly in the states adjoining West Pakistan. Ashfaque Beg's family was targeted by the Hindus from Mewat. With the help of a Rajput woman and other Hindus of the area, they gained temporary protection, and then fled on foot to his maternal grandfather's place in Jaipur - leaving at dawn and arriving there late at 8pm the same day. Other maternal relatives also gathered at the same place, and finally the entire contingent of the family clan left for Pakistan by train at the end of August 1947. They arrived at Hyderabad and stayed at the refugee camp near the railway station. And then the entire clan moved on to Shahdadpur.

Ashfaque Beg was admitted to the Shahdadpur Municipal High School where he got his early primary education. However, the situation at Shahdadpur was not very conducive for the education of the children. So the family finally moved to Mirpurkhas in 1952-1953 where they stayed with his brother in law who had also moved to Pakistan. A year later in 1954, he joined Mirpurkhas Govt High School in Class 5.

When Cadet College Mirpurkhas moved to Petaro in 1959, the young Ashfaque Beg also joined Cadet College Petaro that year in 9th Class.

He excelled in studies at Petaro and stood second in the Hyderabad Board during his Intermediate Examinations in 1963 and was awarded the Stick of Honour in 1962-63. He was the Section Leader of Liaquat House in 1960-1962 and JUO of Liaquat House in his final year 1962-1963 at Petaro.

He was not much of a sportsman and was a lot more into academics and intellectual extra-curricular activities. He was the founding President of the Code of Honour Committee in 1962-1963, Editor in Chief of The Cadet Magazine in 1963 and Urdu Section Editor of The Cadet Magazine in 1961-1962.

During 1961-1963, he was the Captain of the College Quiz and Spelling Bee teams that participated in the ISSST tournament between the cadet colleges.  He was also the captain of Liaquat House Quiz and Spelling Bee teams.

He was instrumental in organizing a seminar on Basic Democracy in 1962, and also organizing and conducting an adult literacy program at Petaro for teaching lower staff and bearers.

He was also appointed Sergeant and Chief Air Scout of the Petaro contingent of the Shaheen Air Training program during 1961-1963.

Soon after leaving Petaro in 1963, he was admitted to Sindh University Engineering College (now known as Mehran University of Engineering & Technology) in the first batch and as the first student. However, his elder brother (who had been supporting him financially during his Petaro years) was unable to continue supporting him for his higher studies.

Therefore Mirza Ashfaque Beg very quietly applied and joined the Pakistan Navy in 1964. He was commissioned as an officer in 1967 in the Engineering Branch after completing his Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from Karachi University the same year.  He was from the second batch of Pakistan Navy Engineering College (PNEC).

During the 1965 war, he was deployed at PAF Mauripur for the protection of the hangars. He also participated in the 1971 war.

During 1972-1973, he was sent on specialized training to the Royal Naval Engineering College in the UK. He also qualified from PN Staff College Course in 1977.

During his early service period, he was posted on the PN ships Babur, Khaibar and Jahangir.

From 1977-1980, he was posted as Staff Officer Ship Management at the Naval Headquarters. The next three years 1980-1983 were spent at Kuwait where he was sent on deputation to the Kuwait Naval Force, Ministry of Defence. Upon return to Pakistan he was posted as Training Commander Engineering at the PNS Karsaz from 1983-1985.

During 1985-1986, he served as Chief Engineer on board PNS Dacca (fuel tanker), and then as Deputy Director and Director for maintenance at NHQ from 1986-1990. From 1990-1993, he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Naval Fleet Maintenance Group at Fleet HQ, Karachi, and then as General Manager Ship Rebuild and Construction at PN Dockyard from 1993-1994. He was then promoted to the rank of Commodore and posted as Director, Ship Management in PNSC from 1994-1997. During his last year of service (1997-1998), he served as Director General, Inspection and Technical Development. He retired from the Navy as a commodore in 1998.

After his retirement, he worked with the Defence Authority, Karachi as Director for setting up the Desalination Plant and as Director Horticulture from 2000-2004. Since then he has been leading a retired life at Karachi.

Ashfaque Bhai was one of the earliest members of the Petarian Association.  He served the association as its President twice - during 1990-92 and 1995-96. He served the Managing Committee in different capacities as well during other years. He his highly respected in Petarian circles.

Cdre. Ashfaque Beg has been known to be a good writer. He has written several articles on Petaro of the early days and about Col. Coombes. He has always been like an elder brother to me, and has always showered his love on me and on all Petarians. His voice is a voice of moderation and seeking to bring people together.

He is a thorough gentleman and a man of principles and upright character. I am honoured to have known him since 1998 when he walked into my office and introduced himself. He has demonstrated time and again that he is indeed our bhaijan.

Cadet Mirza Ashfaque Beg - 1963

Cdre. Mirza Ashfaque Beg - 1997