After the 1965 war as a Major.
By Kazi Zulkader
Siddiqui, Kit no. 671, Latif
Capt. Nasir Abbas was
the third adjutant of Cadet College Petaro from
In an interview I
conducted back in 1999, Col. (R)
Nasir Abbas recalled that
“Col. Coombes, the college principal, was very kind to
allow me to move to the war front in September 1965
immediately, after informing the then Naval Chief
Admiral A.R. Khan (who was the Chairman, Board of
Governors of Petaro). It was a great gesture on
the part of both of them for allowing me to move
out of the college.
They also decided that the college would
make all the arrangements to move my wife and son
and all my belongings to any place in Pakistan
without placing a financial burden on me. This was
an unforgettable gesture – true to the Petarian
Let us go back and trace his biography. He was
born on 10th of July 1936. He belongs to a family
with traditions in the army. His father Altaf Hussain retired
as a brigadier from the Pakistan Army.
Young Nasir Abbas was commissioned into the Pakistan
Army on 7th of October 1956 and joined the 19th
Lancers – a tank regiment. Sixteen years later, he was
to command this same regiment for two years (1972-1974).
During the course of his tenure with the army, he held
various command and staff appointments. In the later
years, he held Grade-I appointment in Military
Operations in the Army Headquarters (GHQ) and as Colonel
GS in Corps Headquarters at Lahore. He also served as an
Instructor in the Tactical Wing of Army Training
Institution at Quetta. Finally, in 1979 (as a full
Colonel) he commanded Pakistan Rangers as Deputy
Director General, Sindh. He retired from the Pakistan
Army with full honors as a Colonel in 1989.
An honorable stand on the field against
the enemy is the feather in the cap of a soldier. Col.(R)
Nasir Abbas had the opportunity to serve the nation in 2
wars – 1965 and 1971. He was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz
(Military) and Imtiazi Sanad for his chivalry.
his military career, Col.(R)
Nasir Abbas kept up his educational activities. He is a
graduate of the National Defence College. As a part of
the course, he studied Higher Strategy of War, National
Defence Policy Formation, Geopolitical Analysis of
various factors relevant to the security of Pakistan and
foreign policy projection. As a result, he was also
awarded a Masters Degree in War Studies from the
Quaid-e-Azam University in 1974. He also passed the Army
Aviation Course and obtained the Flying Pilot Wing.
During his last 8 years of active service in the
Pakistan Army, Col.(R) Nasir
Abbas was sent on deputation
to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs as Deputy Chief of Protocol. He remained in this
position until December 1989 when he retired from the
army. During his tenure at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, he was instrumental in conducting state and
official visits to Pakistan by numerous Heads of State
and Government of different countries. He also planned
and conducted visits, and accompanied the President and
Prime Minister of Pakistan on official and state visits
As a result of his services, the Government of Punjab
inducted him as the Director General Protocol at Lahore
January 1990. He retained this position
until December 1995 when he was appointed into the key
position of Commissioner, Afghan Refugees in Punjab at
Lahore. He finally retired from this position as well at
the end of December 1996.
In his own words,
his “main hobbies were flying,
horseback riding, and traveling”. He has traveled
extensively around the world both on official duty and
Abbas married Nusrat (Nuchie) on 3
September 1960, and has two children –
Nadeem and Nadia. Both of his
children are happily married and well settled in life
with children of their own.
Despite a rich experience in the army, Col.(R)
Nasir Abbas recalled his 2
brief years at Petaro with no uncertain emotions. The
boys of those days (who are fairly aged citizens now)
are still like ‘sons’ to him. He had
very fond memories, and was always
eager to participate in Petarian activities.
During his tenure as the adjutant of the college, he was
required “to maintain college discipline, organize all
sports, and arrange inter-college and inter-organizational
sports activities through visits to colleges and
institutions like other cadet colleges, Pakistan Navy,
Pakistan Air Force”. These interactions allowed our
cricket, hockey, basketball and rifle shooting teams to
eventually become leading college teams in the country.
The Principal Col. Coombes and the Vice Principal Mr.
S.S. Azim gave the adjutant a free hand in order for him
to accomplish his duties. They considered him to be the
“king pin” of the college. They would say to the
adjutant, “you have a lot to contribute to the smooth
functioning and image building of the college”.
The adjutant was also expected to
supervise and control the building and development
activities during those nascent years. Col.(R)
Nasir Abbas recalls that during his tenure, the
following developments took place:
Laying of the grassy field between the
Construction of the swimming pool
Building a new water supply line from
the River Indus
Establishment of the Riding School
Organization of a Sailing and Rowing
Club with assistance from the Naval Headquarters,
which provided necessary training to cadets in their
In order to improve their sports skills,
the principal gave an open cheque to the adjutant to
organize trips to Hyderabad and Karachi to play against
Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force teams. The teams
would travel twice a month to Karachi to play there.
Thus, for the first time, college teams were able to
beat Cadet College Hasan Abdal in 1964 at their home
ground. This was a great achievement.
During the early years, few graduates of
Petaro were selected at ISSB, Kohat for induction into
the armed forces. This was a matter of concern for the
college administration. With permission from the GHQ,
the principal and the adjutant officially visited ISSB
at Kohat in early 1965 to investigate the shortcomings
of the CCP cadets. As a result of this trip, the
following actions were taken that eventually allowed
numerous CCP graduates to be selected in the coming
An obstacle course was set up at the
college in order to provide physical training and
physical fitness to be able to compete at Kohat.
Weekly discussion groups were organized
in order to overcome shyness, and to allow them to
open up their intellectual horizons for participation
in discussions on a wide variety of subjects of
In his words
“it was a tribute to this
farsightedness of the college administration at that
time that we see so many Petarian officers today holding
higher ranks in the Armed Forces. We wish them all the
best of luck”.
Among other activities that he remembered
of the time, the college riding team was taken to the
National Horse and Cattle Show at Lahore in 1965 to
participate in Tent Pegging and Jumps. During that trip,
Aitchison College hosted the Petarians, providing them
accommodation, and stables for the Petarian ponies. The
most memorable part of that show was the famous Petarian
mare “Anarkali”, which won the maximum number of prizes
at the horse show. Petarians of that tenure remember
this feat of Anarkali with pride.
That same year, Aitchison College also
visited Petaro in 1965 in return with their cricket,
hockey and boxing teams as a good will gesture.
He also recalled that,
“during my Petaro stay, I distinctly recollect the visit
of Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan to the college at
the personal invitation of our principal Col. Coombes.
The President of Pakistan met the cadets in the
classrooms and on the sports ground. It was exciting to
say the least”.
“Life at Petaro was out of this world,
with its higher discipline and a regulated life. Though
only 20 miles away from Hyderabad, we were living in a
different world, away from strikes and basking in the
purity of the sun and the pollution-free environment of
the desert around us. This milieu allowed the cadets to
develop an atmosphere of lesser imposed discipline and
greater self-discipline. Despite restrictions, the
cadets were permitted more freedom which developed their
initiative and self-respect. They used to be mostly on
their own. Thus, the Petarians became a part of the most
honored, responsible, and respected brotherhood. They
turned themselves from being ordinary citizens to
becoming the future of Pakistan – responsible Pakistanis
having a rich tradition and professionalism, which is
second to none”.
Lastly he stated,
“indeed, without a doubt, the very best of my life and
service was the two year stay at Petaro as the
In his concluding message, Col.(R)
Nasir Abbas conveyed to his
Petarian ‘sons’, “the nation
expects you to carry a greater burden on your shoulders
for the sake of its ideology and for the sake of the
integrity of the people of Pakistan. They have full
confidence, faith and trust in your dedication and your
competence. We look forward to your honoring us at every
step. I wish all Petarians greater heights in life”.
Col.(R) Nasir Abbas
lived his last years at Lahore and expired on 20
September 2006 of pulmonary cardiac arrest. May his soul
rest in peace.