Reunion report - Class of 1964-69
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001
Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif
As salamu alaykum
With the destruction of the WTC Twin Towers and a
portion of the Pentagon, and the unprecedented slaughter of
thousands of people (Muslim and non-Muslim) in NY and Washington DC
at the hands of individuals who seem to have lost their senses, our
reunion of the 1964-1969 class seems to be pushed into the
background. While the world laments this unfortunate incident, the
massacres of tens of thousands of Muslims in Kashmir, Chechnya,
Philippines, Kosova, Bosnia and other places are also forgotten.
Indeed, as Muslims, we should not condone this unnecessary loss of
civilian life in America.
Despite these dark clouds of horror that hover over
our minds, let me report what transpired at Petaro over the last
weekend – at least one of the silver linings in our lives.
The reunion is still fresh in our minds. The
romanticism it created for our classmates has regenerated an
incredible sense of love and brotherhood amongst us colleagues, and
a yearning for those days which will never come back to us again.
It is not often that we are given a chance to peek
through a window of the time machine, that will allow us to glance
at the realities of an unforgettable age. It reminds me of a very
famous song of the 1960s:
Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance for ever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
I suppose I am a dreamer. And sometimes we dreamers
are able to make some of our dreams come true. Several months ago,
when I approached my classmates to set a plan for this reunion, some
of them definitely thought that I must be crazy. Now that September
6-8 has passed, and that dream has come true.
The journey to Petaro started from Rawalpindi,
Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Hyderabad, Jhuddo, Umarkot, Karachi,
Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco. Nearly 40 of us converged on
Petaro from all these cities of Pakistan and USA on those 3 days.
Several others who were very keen to come and who had promised to be
there could not make it due to last minute problems.
Wednesday, the 5th of September 2001
On the morning of the 5th of September, eight of us
from Rawalpindi/Islamabad, namely
(516), Lt.Col. Tahir Hussain (520),
Brig. Nasim Akhtar Khan (533),
Maj(R) Zulfiqar Kayani (604), Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui (671), Maj(R)
Shafqat Hayat Raziq (982), plus
Azizur Rehman's 13-year-old son
boarded the Daewoo bus for Lahore at noontime.
The journey to Lahore ended before we even realized
that four and a half hours passed by in a jiffy. We were all so
excited. As we pulled into the Kalimah Chowk Daewoo bus terminal, we
got a pleasant surprise. Standing right in front of us was a coaster
with a big sign on it "Long Live Petaro". Major(R) Javed Arshad Manj
(563) had arranged for the vehicle to transport us to the railway
station. Within minutes,
Brig. Arshad Zaman (519) also arrived from
Gujranwala, and so did
Lt.Col. (R) Javed Akhtar (506) and Abid Latif
We drove to the railway station where we were met by
Muhammad Ibrahim (973) and
Maqbool (Max) Babri (971). This completed
our group going by train from Lahore to Hyderabad. The rest of the
people who came from the northern areas had to fly down to Karachi
due to time constraints.
Brig. Arshad Zaman had already made reservations for
15 berths in lower A/C class for us on Karachi Express for that
evening. There we were at the station with the hustle and bustle
that I don't recall experiencing for at least the past 2 decades. We
had almost forgotten what that train ride was like. Yes, we got the
coolies to carry our luggage, and rushed across the platforms to
find our bogie and seats. I truly felt like a teenager, climbing the
rungs to the entrance of the bogie and then jumping off and then on
and then off. It was almost like a new experience once again to be
on the train.
The train blew its whistle at 6pm on the dot and
started to move. The swaying of the coaches as the train started to
pick up speed and the perennial rattling rhythm of the wheels
rolling on the track seemed to sing a welcoming song and dance. It
seemed to say repetitively "Welcome back to Petaro". Amid all this
noise was laughter everywhere. We were prancing here and there with
all sorts of jokes cracking between us. In this older age, most of
the jokes could only be verbal. We were past the age of practical
jokes. However, the verbosity of the jokes contained all the details
of the imaginary practical part of it, which would in fact have been
a reality 32 years ago.
Maqbool had brought burgers for all of us, and
Zaman had a box full of sandwiches. We didn't need to steal any from
them, like what might have happened 31 years earlier.
We all sat in a ring initially with so many things to
say to each other. As the hours passed by, we broke up into smaller
groups for more intimate discussions and exchanges. Nasim had also
brought his pack of cards as well.
Many of us didn't sleep the entire night, but some of
us managed to get a few hours of sleep.
Thursday, the 6th of September 2001
The train was late by an hour. Instead of arriving at
7:30am, it reached Hyderabad station at 8:30am on the morning of 6th
September. Before the train entered Hyderabad city, Brig. Arshad
Zaman had us move all our luggage to the exit of the bogie - in full
military style. We were told that the train would stop for barely a
couple of minutes and we would have to jump off with our luggage.
What excitement! As the train pulled on to the platform, we could
see the welcoming party holding up large signs of "Welcome to
Petaro" and "Welcome to the Class of 1964-69". Two teachers and two
cadet captains (JUOs) were there in the welcoming party. The coolies
jumped on the train and picked up our baggage. We had to cross the
bridge to get to the main entrance of the station. I hadn't been on
that bridge at the Hyderabad station since 1969. It was absolutely
nostalgic crossing that bridge.
The college bus was waiting to take us. The old green
bus of our times was not there of course. And neither was Ali Chacha
driving the bus. With "CADET COLLEGE PETARO" inscribed in large
letters on the side, the bus departed through the city passing by
Garhi Khata, Tilak Chari, St. Bonaventures and St. Mary's Schools,
Noor Mohammed High School, and the Jail, and finally headed towards
the Kotri Barrage. In our days, the barrage used to be called the
Ghulam Mohammed Barrage.
Drive to Petaro
We opted to go by the old road from Jamshoro to
Petaro, i.e. the road which is on the eastern side of the railway
track, passing by the Petaro railway station. As you all may know,
the new expressway from Jamshoro to Dadu runs on the western side of
the railway track. In our times, there used to be just a few thelas
of fruit vendors at the turning before the phatak. Now the turning
is a busy junction. There are shops on both sides, and after turning
towards Petaro, you see buildings on both sides of the road for some
The old Petaro railway station is still the same
after these 31 years. It seemed like life has been at a standstill
at this station. We were told that the same 3 trains plow this line
even after this great lapse of time, i.e. the Bolan Mail, the
Shahbaz Express (used to be known as the Larkana Express in our
times), and a local train.
We crossed the second railway phatak after the
station and headed towards Petaro. The area between the station and
the college has seen a few changes. The 2 small villages in between
have grown in size substantially. There are quite a few houses there
The bus stopped at the main gate. It is a grand gate,
and looks very similar to the gate that we had left behind. However,
increasing its majesty are two large guns on either side of the gate
and a large ship anchor across the road. We got off for a group
Reception at Petaro
The bus drove into the college straight to the
administration block. Waiting for us in front of the Quaid Hall was
the Principal and Commandant
Cdre. Abid Saleem
(589) and many of the
staff members. After this grand welcome, Abid took us into his
office for a cup of tea. Yes, believe it or not, kit no. 589 was now
sitting in the forbidden chair of Cdr. Firoz Shah. It was a matter
of pride that one of us was actually occupying that seat.
We were then driven to Shahbaz Division (the only
house that didn't exist during our time). The ground floor was for
us "boys", while the first floor was reserved for any of us who did
bring their families. We were given our beds and towels.
Others arrive from Karachi, Hyderabad, Jhuddo, and Umarkot
While we waited for the Karachi group to arrive, Dr.
Mushtaq Memon (534) arrived from Jhuddo, Dr. Sharif Varyamani (607)
arrived from Umarkot, and Major (R) Ghulam Hussain Khoso (546)
arrived from Hyderabad.
Just before lunch, the first large contingent from
Karachi arrived. Included in the contingent were
Naeem Saroya (504),
Khalid Jameel (509),
Mukhtar Ahmed (511),
Anwar Aziz Farooqui
Zahoor Malik (522), Abdul Aziz Talpur (545),
Perways Inam (567),
Fayyaz Ahmed (571), Javed Siddiqi (572),
Jahanzeb Arshad (675), and
Kamal Qureshi (689). It was one of the most incredible scenes. Just
imagine all these 50 year olds jumping up and down with joy,
grabbing each other, shouting at the top of their voices when they
met their long lost friends after 30-35 years. I am so thankful to
Allah that half of them didn't collapse there due to heart attacks
or exhaustion. But the excitement was unbelievable – the embraces,
the name-calling, the hugs, in the corridors of Shahbaz Division.
Ch. Shahid Latif
“Sanday Khan” (962) arrived with his wife from Multan. Lastly,
Pervaiz Akhtar “Beauchamp” (965) arrived with his whole family from
Lahore. They drove all the way.
Lunch at the Cadet’s Mess
We had an hour and a half to get ready for lunch.
Despite the fact that most of us hadn't slept well the previous
night, we were in no mood for a rest. But we did need a shower. Most
of us had our clothes off with towels around our waists. The funny
part was that the towels were too small to go around the waists of
many of us fatties. With fat thighs sticking out while they walked,
you may have considered it to be a rather vulgar scene elsewhere.
But between brothers, that apparent vulgarity was just a laugh. With
some brushing their teeth and some sitting in a row over the
khuddis, while others in the showers, the bathroom was alive. It was
the place to be, where all the problems of the universe were being
discussed from each corner.
We had lunch at the new Cadets' Mess - rather late -
around 2:30pm due to the late arrivals from Karachi.
Shortly after lunch,
Afzal Cheema (532) and Javed
Arshad Manj (563) made it. They had taken a flight from Lahore to
Karachi in the morning and drove in the college.
Also arriving at this time was Lt.Col. Irfan Haider
(Y-9), who came from Hyderabad.
At 4pm we had a cricket match - between the Class of
64-69 and the present appointment holders of Class XII. Our team
captain was Lt.Col. Afzal Cheema. I am sure that the college
administration was very benevolent and must have briefed the cadets
not to be too hard on us. I am sure they didn't want to embarrass us
too badly. However, you will be surprised that we oldies did a
pretty good job. We seem to have excelled in batting, bowling and
fielding. Brig. Nasim and Cdr. Khalid Jameel's catches were
excellent. We won the match by around 20 runs, thanks to the Class
XII for their kindness.
Immediately after the match, the clothes contractor
set up shop in the dorm to get each one of us into uniform for the
next morning. Each one of us was required to buy a uniform shirt
(white – the khaki uniform doesn’t exist now), epaulettes, CCP
brass, CCP badge, and beret. Trousers were optional. The epaulettes
were prepared specially with 5 stripes – the 5th stripe to signify
that we had passed out from Petaro. Some of us also bought belts and
shoes, and our house T-shirts and shorts. The greatest problem was
finding the right sized shirts for the fattest amongst us. The
tailors worked hard to fix the shirts and we succeeded.
Dinner at Principal’s House
That evening, we had a dinner at Cdre. Abid Saleem's
residence in his lawn. Yes, we were the honoured guests on the same
lawn that used to be the strolling ground of Cdr. (R) Firoz Shah,
our principal. The food was excellent and the hosts (particularly
Mrs. Abid Saleem) were most gracious.
After dinner, we were shown the movie "Heer Ranjha"
(from the 1960's) in the college auditorium.
Friday the 7th of September 2001
The dress of the day was the college uniform above
the waist. We were all dressed up, and then went for breakfast.
After breakfast, we all had to "fall-in" in front of Shahbaz
Division. Two drums were brought for the march past. The large drum
was fixed on Karim Khan's stomach with great difficulty. We had to
bring a cobbler to adjust the holes in belt so that it would fit
over his extra large tummy now. The other drum was taken over by
Shahid Latif. They practiced the drums for around 5 minutes. We are
all amazed how these 2 still remembered how to play the drums after
these 3 decades.
The made the 3 columns and with
Cdre. Abid Saleem
commanding the troupe, we marched in pace (no one was out of step)
to the drumming of Karim Khan and
Shahid Latif. Good old
Saroya had made a rhyme about the "Class of 69", and to the shouts
of this rhyme and the drums we marched all the way to the assembly
area in front of Quaid Hall.
Havaldar Mirullah Jan was also there to remind us of
the old days. He now has a red beard and is very old. Ali Chacha the
driver had also come to be with us.
At the assembly,
Zubair (502) recited from the Qur'an
and Naeem (504) read the translation. Then Y-9 Lt.Col Irfan Haider
read the news. This was concocted news of what may have happened in
1969 - funny incidents about
Azim Sahib and various
After the assembly, we were given a tour of the
college and its new facilities. The language lab, the bio lab and
the computer lab were new for us. The library is now
air-conditioned. We even sat in a classroom to remind ourselves of
our days, and Mr. Durrani just walked up and spoke for a few minutes
as the lecturer. That was great.
Just as we had started the tour,
Raza Kamal Minhas
(584) and Mohammed Ali (Y-5) arrived from Karachi. Nostalgia was in
the air again.
In the staff room
As we ended our tour, we found ourselves in the staff
room on the first floor of the Administration complex just above the
staircase and the drinking water tanks. An elaborate tea was waiting
The present staff members had hosted the tea in the
staff room for us. Inayat Sahib,
Zaman Sahib and
Channa Sahib also
joined us for the tea under all that excitement.
Private session of our classmates
We then moved to the auditorium for a very private
session. Only our classmates were allowed. Each one was required to
come to the podium and tell all others of what he has been doing
since he left Petaro, about his family and any anecdotes from his
period in Petaro. The session was incredible and nostalgic to its
limits. I am afraid that I cannot reveal all that was said there.
Lunch, namaz and the Official Session
Lunch was in the Mess, and then we rushed off for a
quick lunch and then Juma prayers to the masjid.
After namaz, we had to assemble again at the
Quaid Hall. There we had group photos taken, and then the serious
session started. All of the Class XI and XII, all of the present
staff members, the Class of 1964-69, and those of our professors
emeritus who had come were present.
Mr. Aziz Ahmed Farooqui was the
Chief Guest. Unfortunately,
Mr. Azim had met with a small accident
to his foot the previous day and was unable to come. Likewise a
couple of our other senior teachers like
Mr. Abdullah Khadim Hussain
were down with the flu' and were in bed.
Mr. Bhatti and
were told at the last minute that they could not get leave from
their present assignments, and therefore had to decline at the 11th
The teachers who did come were
Mr. A.A. Faruqui,
Inayat Ali Khan (Urdu),
Mr. Ch. Abdul Ghani (Maths),
(Agriculture), and Mr. Zaman (Chemistry).
Mr. M.P Durrani and
Ghouri had just joined the college when we left. Thus there were 7
of the teachers of our time who were present.
Each of the teachers spoke to us for a few minutes.
Mr. Inayat Ali Khan is a celebrity these days over TV. He is often
there in mushairas, and is quite popular. Here on the stage,
his presentation was superb with his own poetry about Petaro and the
Pakistani scene. Mr. Zaman,
Mr. Channa and
Mr. Ghani's speeches were
to the point and very emotional. Lastly
Mr. Faruqui's speech was
We had shields prepared for each participant from our
class with the names and kit nos. of all our classmates inscribed on
them. Each one of us was then called to the stage and given a shield
by the Chief Guest. We then asked the Chief Guest to present our
GIFT TO PETARO of Rs. 10 lacs to the Principal. This money will be
used to construct new squash courts. It was indeed a great
achievement that most of us from our classmates contributed towards
Lastly, I was nominated to speak on behalf of our
class to the audience to thank everyone and to relive some of those
memories. We also remembered the 6 colleagues of ours who had died,
and offered dua for them.
After the ceremony (which lasted around 2 hours), we
rushed to the dorms, changed clothes and headed for the grassy field
for the football match between our class and the staff members. It
was a very good match, and we lost by 1 goal. Abid Saleem was our
At 8pm we had to assemble at the poolside for dinner.
The XI and XII class had prepared a musical program for us. They
sang songs in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi and Pushto.
Fayyaz Shaikh of our
class also sang 2 excellent ghazals. As this was in progress,
some of our classmates went and mingled with the cadets from their
own houses, dancing bhangra with them, and with shouts for their own
houses. This created an excellent feeling of brotherhood between the
2 classes that were 32 years apart. Dinner was then served, and then
the cadets moved to the auditorium for a movie. We had brought
Armaan (from the 1960s) for screening that night.
Saturday, the 8th
of September 2001
Many of us were up early in the morning for an early
dip in the swimming pool.
Getting serious – let’s do something
After breakfast, our class assembled again at the
auditorium. We had lots of fun over the 2 days, and we felt truly
honoured. Now we wanted to discuss the way forward. We all wanted to
have another reunion within the next couple of years. And we all
wanted to be a part of newer initiatives that can help Pakistan and
Petaro and Petarians in the future. We resolved to create a forum
and a foundation for this purpose.
Presentation to the XI and XII classes
After this session, most of the classmates went for
riding and swimming and shooting. While that was in progress, I had
assembled the XI and XII class in the auditorium for a presentation
on the "future of the Muslim Ummah and Pakistan in the 21st
century". I wanted to share my own vision, and to tell them that 50
years from now they should be proud Pakistanis and not like us who
have failed this country. Using Powerpoint and multimedia, I spoke
to them for 2 hours. This led to an excited question and answer
session for around 20 minutes. The response was excellent.
Lunch with the cadets
We then proceeded for lunch to the Mess. This was the
cadets' lunch. As we all proceeded to the head table, the cadets
came over and dragged us down to their own tables according to the
houses. This was a tremendous gesture on their part, where they now
started to own us. The head table was empty. Before the lunch
started, the houses yelled at each other and made the entire hall
By the way, we did follow all the other traditions
during our visit. The "Gentlemen bismillihir rahmanir rahim"
at the beginning of meals and "Gentlemen alhamdulillah" at
the end of the meals was uttered religiously.
However, the adjutant was too soft on us. He did not
punish those who were smoking, or those who violated the lights out
time. During the night, we had groups sitting everywhere with jokes
and anecdotes a plenty. They even played Flash and didn't get an
extra drill. Fortunately, the activities ended at that and we had no
unforeseen activities that could have led to an expulsion. LOL! I
suppose any champions of those days are a bit too senile by now.
After lunch, we started to depart. The Karachi and
Sindh groups left by around 4pm while the northerners took the train
back to Lahore that evening.
The 1964-69ers have now passed a resolution that the
Class of 1963-68 will donate 20 lacs, Class of 1962-67 will donate
30 lacs, and so on. Likewise, the Class of 1965-70 will also donate
20 lacs, Class of 1966-71 will donate 30 lacs, etc. Well best of
luck to you all friends.
In the end, I want to once again thank the biggest
donor amongst us, namely
Ghiasuddin Sidiqi, kit no 964, who donated
5 lacs out of the over 10 lacs we collected. Three cheers for
Ghias! Amongst the others, 6 of us donated 50,000+ each. There were
many who gave 5,000 to 10,000 each. We thank every one who gave even
a small amount of money.
By the way, we had decided not to burden the college,
and have paid for all the expenses of this reunion, including the
food, travel, tips, uniforms, etc. However, the love we got from the
college, the staff, and the students could not be compensated. It
can never be compensated. We shall always be grateful to them for
I also want to specifically mention that 3 of us flew
all the way from the USA for this occasion, namely
(504), Javed Siddiqui (572) and
Mohammed Ali (Y-5). We are most
grateful to them for having considered us to be so important in
Last and not the least, we would like to thank Cdre.
Abid Saleem and all the staff members and employees of the
college who made this into the most wonderful and memorable occasion
of our lives.
For those of us who missed this occasion, I feel
sorry that you were not amongst us. We missed you, and I know that
you missed an opportunity of your lifetime. This occasion shed at
least 10 years from our old age, and has rejuvenated us.
Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif (1965-69)
Naeem Saroya adds:
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2001 16:18:46 EDT
Salam my dear friends,
Thank you Zulqadar for putting together the report of
our reunion May Allah reward you! However, it did not cover the
Southern Contingent’s Journey from Karachi to Petaro. There were 12
of us that came from Karachi.
The coordination was undertaken by
Brig. Mukhtar and
Perways Inam. We all got together at
Mukhtar’s house and he was very
gracious to host us, serving us with the desi ghee Halwa. Perways
Inam specially brought "Ludoos" in honor of
Khalid Jamil Luddoo and
also to celebrate the occasion. The southern contingent included
Naeem Saroya 504 (ChuChi),
Khalid Jameel 509 (Luddoo),
511 (Mullah), Anwar Aziz Farooqui 521 (Pakora), Zahoor Malik 522,
Abdul Aziz Talpur 545,
Perways Inam 567,
Fayyaz Ahmed 571, Javed
Siddiqi 572, Jahanzeb Arshad 675 (Jhanpoo), and Kamal Qureshi 689.
Raza Kamal Minhas (584) and
Mohammed Ali (Y-5) drove
up from Karachi together on Friday morning, just in time to attend
the main functions. Farooq Tahir 539 was the last to come since he
was travelling. He finally made it to Petaro on Saturday morning as
was able to spend half a day with us.
We had a most enjoyable and interesting journey from
Karachi to Petaro. At the mid-way tea stop we had the most
interesting mushaira (if it can be called one), interspersed
with the most unimaginable (and non-repeatable) jokes. The star
poets were Perways Inam and
Fayyaz of course. We did get some tea
too. Believe me, I hadn’t heard such incredible poetry in these 32
years. You know what I am talking about.
Some of us also had the opportunity on Friday and
Saturday to check the temperature of swimming pool water. It
reminded us of the lessons we took from Mrs.
Russell 36 years ago.
Others amongst us got a chance to check out the Chaal of the
Well as far as the sentiments are concerned when I
was flying from USA to Karachi, I already had turned back into a
12-year old in the plane, imagining myself in the dorms and walking
the corridors of the Administration Building and the sports fields.
It didn't matter where we were coming from we were all once again
turned back the time. It was wonderful. I don't thing we can
recreate the sparks and spontaneous love and affection each one had
for the other. Walking in towels and keeping the tradition of
borrowing the tooth paste was very much alive.
My love and thanks to
Abid Saleem and Zulqadar and
other who put it together.
Till next time
With love and respect
Naeem Saroya 504
Brother to Brother
Petarian to Petarian
In Life and in Death
A list of those of our batchmates who came to the
reunion is as follows: