Cdre. Muhammad Abid Saleem, SI(M)

The Eleventh Principal (2000-2007) - and First Petarian to become a Principal of CCP

Cdre. M. Abid Saleem - in 2004

Muhammad Abid Saleem

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

Cdre. Muhammad Abid Saleem, SI(M), kit no. 589//Latif House, joined Cadet College Petaro in Class 8th in 1964 and passed out in 1969 after completing his Intermediate.

He was the eleventh principal/commandant of Cadet College Petaro. He remained in that position from 2000 to 2007.  He also had the honour of being the first Petarian to ever become the Principal of the college which was also his alma mater.

He was born on 11 May 1951 and was married to Mrs. Rahila on 25 March 1980. They have 3 children - Haseeb, Moughis and Merium.

Although I do have autographs of many of my other batch mates, I have chosen to write about Abid Saleem’s autograph with this collection of autographs of teachers solely for the reason that he finally rose up to the rank of Principal of Cadet College Petaro - more than a generation later. Abid is my teacher in some ways too (I do learn from every person), but I can safely say that there have been times when I was his teacher as well.

I joined Petaro in 1965 in Class 9, and Abid was the House Prefect from our class. Over the next four years, we became the best of friends, and alhamdu-lillah this relationship continues to grow stronger.

Coming from a humble background, Abid has built a career for himself solely through his hard work. He is a man of high principles, and this has been his hallmark throughout his life as I have witnessed it. After leaving Petaro, he joined the Navy and rose up through the ranks to eventually become a commodore. This was the feather in his cap.

During our days at Petaro, Abid was a star. He excelled in sports and became the College Football Captain. In athletics, no one could beat him at 400m, 800m and 1500m races. Abid is the only other cadet to have been honoured by being a member of the Famous Forties of 1966, 1967 and 1968.

In 11th Class, Abid, Raza Kamal (584), and Khalid Jamil “Luddoo” (509) were my room mates. We lived in the Latif House portion of “Sheesh Mahal”. That was the hottest room in the college, acting like a proper greenhouse. Sometimes we wondered if it was a reward or a punishment to live there. But I guess others used to envy us for having been given the honour since it was the grandest room, with the best view over the grassy field.

When we were in 12th Class, Abid was rightly chosen to be the JUO of Latif House. And Abid, Raza Kamal and I were the room mates, living in the JUO room across from the Radio Room.

Abid did prove his leadership qualities over the years throughout his career and this last assignment as the Principal of CCP is the crown in his cap. During these past 7 years, he has proven his mettle. Being the first Petarian to become the Principal, he has brought an understanding and love into the job which no previous principal could.

During these 7 years, there has been a major change in the college. Not only have there been several infrastructure development projects like the Squash Court, new mosque, Drinking Water plant, houses of staff, etc, but his greatest achievement is the security he brought to the college by getting legal possession over the nearly 750 acres of land and building a boundary wall around it. This also eliminated many of the problems that emanated from outside elements and instilled stronger discipline amongst the cadets.

Abid also ensured that the flow of cadets to the Pakistan armed forces resumed with full force. During the previous periods, it had almost come down to a trickle.

Abid Saleem’s own handwriting and signature

bagh-e aalam main yahi apni dua hai har subh,

Rahein sar sabz shajar phoolnay phalnay walay - Aatish

 

Signed Abid Saleem

14th July, 1969

 

Thus, when I reflect on Abid’s autograph, I feel that maybe he was examining his own ambitions in life. After all when you pray for someone who is dear to you, the prayer does come back to you.  And Allah has honored Abid accordingly.

Indeed, it is our prayers that through our efforts may Allah grant our college and our nation growth and productivity which will make us into the best. And may Allah keep on honouring Abid by taking him to even greater heights in this world and the Hereafter!


My Father - the First Petarian Principal

By Haseeb Abid, Kit no. 97158, Liaquat House

When I was asked to write an essay about my father, Commodore Muhammad Abid Saleem SI(M) ONM(Fr), focusing on his achievements and personality, I thought it would be a very easy task. But as I sat down to write, I found myself lost in words. There is so much I would like to share with the Petarian community that it is difficult to condense all my thoughts into a few pages.

Ever since I came of age and started to appreciate my father’s presence, I have a pretty good track record of his postings, his friends, his achievements, and good and bad times. But when I sit down to pen those down, I find that in reality I know very little about his life before his marriage. Anyways, I will try to share with you all what little I do know.

My father was born on the 11th of May, 1951, somewhere in District Sargodha, to Chaudhry Noor M. Khan Saleem (late) and Naimat Begum. He was the third of six siblings. His early education was at Faisalabad, the city where he originally hailed from. In my conversations with him, I know for a fact that he had always been interested in joining the Army. I once asked him as to what took him to Petaro. He told me that someone from his village Jehangir Kallan showed him an ad in the newspaper about interviews being held in Lahore for the new entry in Cadet College Petaro. He was under the impression that if he got admission into Petaro, he would automatically be granted commission in the Army as an officer. It was only after reaching Petaro when he found out that the path to the Army was not guaranteed. Petaro produces good citizens and that is it.

So it was with this misconception in his mind, he asked his father’s permission to sit for the Petaro entrance exam and interview at Lahore, who initially refused him, simply because Petaro was so far away from Faisalabad. But upon my father’s repeated requests, my grandfather finally agreed. He also said to my grandmother that “He’s just a kid who wants to go to Lahore…… Let him go………. It is not that he’s going get admission anyways……… He’ll be back in a few days”. As fate would have it, he succeeded and was on his way to Petaro.

The young Abid Saleem joined Cadet College Petaro in 1964. This is the part of his life that he calls the ‘Golden Years’. Whenever, he achieved something, he would always remind me that this would not have been possible had he not been for Petaro. I have heard fairy tale like stories about his five-year stay at Petaro. Some from him, while others I found out after becoming a cadet, myself.

When I was growing up he used to talk a lot about his friends from Petaro, especially his roommates Kazi Zulkader uncle and Zubair uncle. He had always been very close to Dr Kamal Qureshi as well. Then there was TJ Uncle (Captain T J Siddiqui), and he always talked very highly of Brig Mukhtar and Brig Arshad Zaman. His entry mate ‘Muneeb’, who achieved ‘Shahadat’ in 1971 held a very special place in his heart. I remember that, one of the first things he did after becoming Commandant CCP was to have Lieut. Muneeb shaheed’s name engraved on the plaque reserved for ‘Shuhada’. My father used to tell me stories of his friend “Tarzan” (probably the best footballer in the history of Petaro), and as to how the goalkeeper used to be scared of him; and how he could tear the net with one kick.

Many of the senior Petarians, especially the class of 64, are better aware of my father’s days in Cadet College Petaro. But I will highlight a few achievements of his at Petaro. He had always been very good in athletics and especially football. He joined the college football team in 9th class, if I am not wrong, and eventually became the college team captain. He was given the Badge of Honour in 10th class and at the end of his stay in Petaro he was Junior Under Officer of Latif Division. When I joined Petaro, I was overcome by seeing his name splashed all over the outer walls of Quaid Hall. My awe and respect for his achievements increased many fold.

After passing out of Petaro, my father applied for commission. Upon the advice of one of his father’s friends, he opted to join Pakistan Navy instead of the Army which he had dreamed of as a teenager. I have always known my father to love the Navy. He is very passionate about the service. His career in the Navy has taken him across the globe and also to the remotest regions of Pakistan. My father got to see action on board PNS Babur, soon after getting commission in 1971. Had East Pakistan not been lost, he was next in line to be posted to Chittagong. That never realized. Subsequently, there was a string of postings on board destroyers, frigates and the famous Tug of Pakistan Navy, PNS Madadgar. It was on board Madadgar that he got to sail from Shanghai, China to Toulon, France. He would never tire of telling stories about his sea experiences. One often hears from others that sea life gets to be very monotonous.  But my dad never seemed to get bored from it. He truly loves the white uniform and as far as I know him, he will never take it off until the Navy bids him “goodbye”.

Cdre. Abid Saleem was one of the lucky ones in the Navy. He got the opportunity to sail on several cruises on board the naval vessels. He did his PWO course in 1978 from UK. In 1985 he proceeded to USA for an Intelligence Course.  In 1988 he again proceeded to UK, this time for his Staff Course, after topping in his class. In 1993, he proceeded to UK, a third time, for the acquisition of PNS Babur as captain. In 1997, he was appointed as Army and Naval Attaché in Paris, France. It is rather uncanny that his promotions took place when he was posted abroad. He was promoted to “Commander” in 1988 when he was in UK doing his staff course. He was promoted to “Captain”, when he was in UK for acquisition of PNS Babur and he was promoted to “Commodore” in 2000 when he was Army and Naval Attaché in Paris. It was his sheer hard work, dedication to duty and blessings of Almighty Allah that he got to proceed abroad so many times.

My father did three tenures at the Naval Headquarters in Islamabad. He was first posted there as a Lt Cdr in the Protocol Department, then as Commander he was appointed as Assistant Director Naval Intelligence and as Captain he was appointed Director Projects Ships. His on sea command include that of a submarine chaser PNS Baluchistan, a frigate PNS Aslat and a destroyer PNS Babur. While commanding Baluchistan and Aslat, his ships won the Annual Fleet Efficiency awards; whereas on Babur, he finished second after a nail biting and thrilling competition.

After finishing his tenure as Army and Naval Attaché in Paris France he proceeded to command his alma mater, Cadet College Petaro in October of 2000. What a stroke of fate indeed! It is rare that a person would actually come to the pinnacle of the same institution that nurtured him. Cdre. Abid owes everything he has to Petaro and he is ever grateful to this institution.

His performance in Petaro as Commandant and Principal speaks for itself. The college land had never been secured. It was his sheer efforts and uphill battles against all odds that officially allotted over 700 acres of land to the college.  Only time will tell as to how important this is for our progeny. It has safeguarded the college for all times to come.

In addition to this, the discipline, the academics, sports and all areas have improved massively. Various improvements in infrastructure have taken place like the construction of the Giasuddin Squash Court by his batch mates, improvement of roads network, potable filtered water for all residents of Petaro, housing for lower employees, etc.

In recognition of my father’s services he has been awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Military) by the President of Pakistan. He also has the distinct honour of being awarded “Order National du Merit of France” by the French President in recognition of his services as Army and Naval Attaché in Paris, France.

Besides his professional life, I have always found him to be very kind, gentle and a very simple and down-to-earth person. He is a very caring and a loving husband to my mom, Rahila, and a great father to me, my brother Mughees and sister Merium. I have always looked up to him for advice, sometimes by asking and most of the times by just simply observing him. He gets full marks for bringing up such a wonderful family like ours. We got the best from him.

Sometime ago I was had to go for a job interview. The interviewer asked me “Who do I look up to in life?” I said, without a moment’s hesitation “My Father”. She asked me again “Anybody besides him?” I said “No, just him”.      


Some Golden Jubilee Thoughts

by Cdre. Muhammad Abid Saleem SI(M), Principal, Cadet College Petaro

on 28 February, 2007 at the Golden Jubilee of CCP

as-salamu alaykum

I just cannot express my true exhilaration at the fact that the honourable President of Pakistan has chosen to be amongst us on this unique occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Cadet College Petaro. I would like to thank him on behalf of the management of this college and on behalf of all the cadets and all Petarians for this noble gesture. This will be a day for us to remember and will go down in the history of this institution as another key turning point.

Gentlemen, we have turned fifty.  Happy Fiftieth Birthday to us - that is, to this great college, to all staff members, to all cadets, and all ex-cadets.  We are the GOLDEN PETARIANS finally.

This has been a long march for us - through every season and through the rough and difficult times too. This college was built in 1957 at Mirpurkhas and then moved to this location in 1959 when the initial buildings of this campus were barely constructed and the land was in floods. We had a rough beginning, but with the Grace of Allah we made it.

It was the vision of the then Hyderabad Director of Education, Mr. A.M. Nizamani with the sanction of Mr. M. Ayub Khuhro, the Defence Minister of Pakistan, that made this college into a reality. On this occasion, I would like to pay my humble tribute and pray for the souls of both Mr. A.M. Nizamani and Mr. Ayub Khuhro, who are no longer with us in this world. They had the vision and the others who followed them in guiding and managing this college over these fifty years have lived up to their expectations to make this into a great institution.

In particular sir, I would like to mention the passionate (late) Colonel Coombes who was the first full-time Principal of this college. It was his sheer love for this college - which was almost to the point of madness - that set the standard and the pace for all future work at this institution. His hard work with dedication paid off. The Pakistani principals who followed him kept up the tradition, and guided all the staff members accordingly. These included Cdr. Firoz Shah, Mr. S.S. Azim, late Capt.PN Shukruddin, Cdr. Asrarullah, late Capt.PN Amin Khan, late Cdre. S.I. Malik, and Cdre. S.Q. Raza.  My address today would have been incomplete if I had not mentioned these great stalwarts who ensured the place of this college on the map of Pakistan. And they had the finest of staff members, who worked hand in glove with them as a tremendous team.

We have prepared a set of books on this auspicious occasion, which will give all you a pretty good idea about this college and its developments over the past 50 years. I hope you will keep these as a memento and as a constant remembrance of this great institution for all times to come.

The college was built to produce the finest young Pakistanis who would serve this country in every sphere of life with excellence. Being a cadet college, there was a planned focus on encouraging young boys from rural Sindh to enter the armed forces, while leaving options open for them to pursue their careers in government, business, engineering, medicine, and other professions. By the Grace of Allah, we have succeeded as you see eminent Petarians in almost every walk of life in Pakistan and overseas.

The college started with humble beginnings, admitting only 30 cadets in the first year at Mirpurkhas. With rapid construction of facilities, the population of cadets rose to over 540 by the mid-1960s. Currently, we have 880 cadets studying at the college - making Cadet College Petaro to be the largest of the cadet colleges in Pakistan today. With the construction of the eighth house that is planned, this college will have a capacity of over 1,000 boys.

During these past 50 years, nearly 7,200 cadets have passed through our corridors. Of these, nearly 20% entered the armed forces, and 15-20% went abroad to acquire higher education. The Petarian presence on the Pakistani political scene and in government services is clear evidence of our service orientation.

Cadet College Petaro’s education is based on discipline and strong values. At every stage, a Petarian is imbibed with values that are required for success in their future destinies. The boys are groomed to acquire professional ethics, discipline and leadership qualities, which are combined with strong academic skills and physical education and sports to make them prepared to be amongst the best.

I am proud to say that despite the erosion in the quality of education in Pakistan over these decades, we have tried to keep up our standards through dedication and devotion. I would like to emphasize that the staff members of this institution and its employees are the ones that make the difference. I would like to salute these unnamed thousands of men and women who have been the foundation and pillars of this institution over this past half a century.

This place was a desert in 1957, inhabited primarily by snakes and scorpions. Today, it is a garden town with many facilities and villages in the vicinity.  This college has contributed tremendously towards development of this part of Sindh, and we hope that future developments will make this into a prosperous area. It is our desire to have a world class technical university built in this vicinity which will provide vertical possibilities for our cadets in their career paths. Of course, such an institution will also become a source of higher education possibilities for all Pakistanis. We are fortunate that METUPAK Foundation has been able to conclude an MOU with Middle East Technical University, which is the finest technical university in the region to provide technical expertise and manpower. I am hopeful and confident that the government of Pakistan will endorse and support this project. It will be a great honour for all of us Petarians, and for me personally as well upon my exit from Petaro after these fruitful seven years.

It would be out of place if I did not mention the tremendous support this college has received from the government of Sindh under the able leadership of Dr. Arbab Ghulam Rahim, who is himself a product of Petaro. His unstinting love for his alma mater is admirable and shows his great qualities.  I have experienced this myself during my 7 seven years as Principal and Commandant of this college, when we have seen massive developments at this college in every sphere. I am also grateful to him for his support in ensuring that the land of this college is legally secure and free from encroachments. This is a national asset, and shall remain so.

In addition, our Petarian ministers Mr. Liaquat Ali Jatoi and Ch. Nauraiz Shakoor have always supported this college in various ways. Amongst our ex-cadets, Lt. Gen. S.P. Shahid has been a source of massive support to us at every stage. His latest support is in the form of the Citizens Foundation School that has been set up.

Over these years, the college has received massive support from the pioneers of Petarian unity. In particular, I would like to thank Dr. Hadi Bux Jatoi (kit no. 171), Mr. Bashiruddin Memon (kit no. 63), Cdre.(R) Mirza Ashfaque Beg (kit no. 69), and Mr. Noor Ahmed Nizamani (kit no. 7).

I am unable to name every single Petarian who has dedicated his time and money for the sake of this institution. There are tens if not hundreds of them. I salute each and every one of them, and I hope they will excuse me for not mentioning their names individually.  It is their love and strong ties of brotherhood and fraternity that makes us into a unique community.

However, I would like to mention that Petarians have done a great job of keeping their brotherhood strong. Several Petarian organizations sprung up over these decades that have engendered a strong sense of Petarian-ism. Starting with the Petaro Old Boys Association in the 1960s, we evolved into the Petarian Association of Karachi which celebrated it Silver Jubilee in 2006. The role of the Petarian Association in bringing Petarians on one platform must be appreciated.

Petarians have also been grouping together in other cities of Pakistan like Hyderabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Sukkur, and Quetta. It is pleasing to note that the overseas Petarians have also organized themselves as well. In particular, I would like to mention PANA (North America), PASA (Saudi Arabia), and PAE (Europe).

The Petarian Foundation has also played an exemplary role as an NGO aimed at service of Petaro and Petarians. I am indeed grateful to the Foundation for having provided Scholarships to Petarian cadets for the past 3 years, Scholarships for ex-cadets for past 3 years, Teacher Training programs over the past 2 years, Hajj sponsorship of a college employee this year, and welfare fund for Petarians and college employees. Their role in the Earthquake Relief and Rehabilitation in Azad Jammu & Kashmir had done us all proud. And lastly, the First Convention organized by them at Petaro in 2004 set the standard for all Petarians on how to serve this nation to its best.

We also look towards your patronage and guidance of the honourable President of Pakistan, which will enhance this institution further. In the recent years, this college has gone through many financial crises, which have been capped to a great extent. However, we still need support from the government of Pakistan to enable bright young candidates to study here, but whose families cannot afford to pay for this education. We need more scholarships for such cadets, who will be an asset to this nation.

Lastly, we do need further continual developments, for which support of the government of Pakistan and the government of Sindh are crucial. It is through their support that we will insha Allah continue to grow this institution into a centre of excellence.

Let me thank all of you - Petarians and guests - who are taking time out from your very precious and busy schedules to be with us, and for giving us this importance on this happy occasion.

Long Live Petaro! Long Live Petaro! Long Live Petaro! Fifty times over again!

And Pakistan Paindabad! Pakistan Paindabad! Pakistan Paindabad! Millions of times over!