Maj.Gen.(R) Z.I. Abbasi

The Fifth Adjutant (1966-1969)

Maj.Gen.(R) Z.I. Abbasi - 2004

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, Kit no. 671, Latif House

Capt. Zahirul Islam Abbasi (popularly known as Z.I. Abbasi) was the fifth adjutant of Cadet College Petaro from 1966-1969.

He was born on 12 January, 1943, and got married to Mrs. Shahida Zaheer (daughter of Sqn.Ldr.(R) A.A. Shaikh) on 25 November 1972. They have two sons and two daughters. He expired on 30 July 2009 at Islamabad after cardiac arrest.

After leaving Petaro, Z.I. Abbasi rose up through the ranks to eventually become a Major General in the Pakistan Army.

Z.I. Abbasi joined the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army around the year 1960. His parent unit was the 12 Baloch. He fought the 1965 war against India as a Captain in the Army.

A year after the war, Capt. Z.I. Abbasi was assigned the position of Adjutant of Cadet College Petaro. He was a disciplinarian, and at times his strict actions were not popular with the students. However, despite the difficult times in the country with the political upheavals, strikes and riots everywhere, he was able to maintain calm and peace in the college.

It was during the period of Capt. Z.I. Abbasi as adjutant that Petaro won all the three championships at ICCST.

After leaving Petaro in 1969, Capt. Abbasi was posted back to his unit. The country was already in turmoil leading to the 1971 war with India. Z.I. Abbasi participated in the war from the western front.

He was regarded very highly as an officer, and by the mid-1980s, he was given the rank of a brigadier. In 1987-88, he was appointed the Military Attaché at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. He was rated very highly in this position, and therefore the Indian establishment was very unhappy with his presence in New Delhi. They were looking for a ruse to throw him out of India.

On December 1, 1988, the Indian military intelligence (in the garb of New Delhi police) arrested him at a restaurant while he was having a meal with a friend. He was falsely accused of meeting a "spy" and for gathering information. During the few hours of arrest, he was beaten and man-handled. Since they could not find any incriminating evidence against him nor could they obtain any information or documents from him, the Indian government chose to deport him from India without notice by declaring him persona non grata.  Their attempt to take legal action against him failed. This was the least that the government of India could do as a face saving measure.

In 1991, he was posted to Siachen Glacier where he led the Pakistani forces against India. His performance was very good and he was given the rank of Major General subsequently.

As a Major General, he was then given the position of Director General of the Infantry Corps at the GHQ - a staff position. He did not command troops in this position. During this period, an alleged coup plot was uncovered in which Major General Z.I. Abbasi was implicated by the main accused as being the guide. After a court martial and a trial, he was given 7 years of imprisonment but he was exonerated from the charge of being the main leader.

On the other hand, the earliest reports from the diplomatic corps in Islamabad give a different version. They say that the alleged plotters were supplying arms to Kashmiri fighters and were not plotting a coup. The Pakistan government was under pressure from the US government to find scapegoats and to crack down on the military support to the Kashmiri fighters against the official policy. These fighters had created a big problem for India.

Abbasi appealed to the Supreme Court which ruled that his conviction appeal cannot be considered since it was done by a military court. He remained at Haripur Jail. Although the imprisonment was to be for 7 years, he was released after 4 years in 1999 due to his good conduct and the good work he had done with the criminal convicts at Haripur Jail.

During the period of his incarceration, he used to teach classes to other prisoners (who were convicted of other crimes). According to the Prison In-charge, there was a marked change in the attitude of other prisoners due to Gen. Abbasi. He played a great role in reforming their lives and making them realize how to rebuild their future.

He commanded great respect in prison among the Haripur district officials, the prison officials and the prisoners. Everyone seemed to want to be in his company. The prison officials would often sit and have dinner with him in his cell, and would gain a lot from his teachings and discussions. And they marveled at his superlative character and humble attitude in life.

I had an opportunity to visit him in late 1999 in his prison cell at Haripur Prison (a few months before his release). We prayed maghrib together, and - to my surprise - the prison officials walked in with food to have dinner with him. We all ate together. I left him after dinner that night with satisfaction that he had proved his worth even in prison.

Since his release, he had been leading a relatively quiet life in Rawalpindi/Islamabad. He lectured on various aspects of Islam and values of religious life, and formed the Azmat-e-Islam Movement with the objective of leading the ummah to return to the khilafat.

Maj. Gen.(R) Abbasi always looked forward to meeting Petarians and had a lot of love for them. He even visited Petaro during the Convention 2004.

His sudden death on July 30, 2009 was a real shock for most Petarians. His namaz-e-janazah was held at the Fizaia Colony, Islamabad, and the body was taken to his ancestral village Hali, Teh. Haripur for burial.

May Allah grant him the best place in Jannatul Firdaus, and make him a beacon of light for all.

Capt Z.I. Abbasi - 1969