Cdr.(R) Muhammad Asrarullah, PN

The Fifth Principal (1980-1988)

Cdr.(R) Asrarullah, PN - college days

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

Cdr.(R) Muhammad Asrarullah, PN, was the fifth principal/commandant of Cadet College Petaro from 1980-1988. 

Cdr. Asrarullah was born on 1 April 1924 at Allahabad.

His first wife was the late Mrs. Zahra. He has one daughter - Dr. Sadia Akbar - from her. Begum Zahra Asrarullah died on 12 November 1994 of cardiac arrest after a brief illness. She was graceful, beautiful, soft-spoken and loving, and was always an important personality at Petaro.

His daughter, Dr. Sadia is married to Mr. Akbar Musharraf, a chemical engineer who is presently serving as HSE Manager at the Pakistan Refinery.

He then got married to Dr. Shahnaz in 1997, a specialist in gynecology, who is an extremely pious and God fearing lady. They moved to Madinah Munawwarah in 1998 and have been living there ever since just to be close to the Prophet.

Cdr.(R) Asrarullah - 2007

Cdr. Asrarullah has had the honour of being at Petaro twice - as the Naval Officer from 1959 to 1962 and then as the Principal from 1980 to 1988.

He obtained his early education at Allahabad and then graduated from the University of Lucknow in Mathematics, English Literature and Persian in 1945. He was also granted a teaching qualification "LT" with specialization in teaching of Mathematics from Allahabad in 1946.

With the partition of India, he moved to Pakistan in December 1947 by ship from Bombay. His first job was as a teacher of Mathematics at NJV Govt High School at Karachi where he taught for a year.

In January 1949, he was commissioned in Pakistan Navy in the Education Branch in the first batch of Instructor Officers.

Asrar Sahib fondly recalls that he was always considered to be a pioneer in the setting up of many of the Navy educational establishments. This is borne out by looking at his career achievements.

His first such assignment was in the establishment of Cadet Training School at PNS Himalaya, Karachi in 1951, where he was amongst the initial Instructors.

He was then sent to the UK in 1954 for post-graduate specialization in Navigation. This was called the Instructor Officers Dagger Navigation Specialization at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, UK, which he completed securing a first class first. Right after this specialization, he undertook a number of practical courses in various ships and establishments of the Royal Navy collectively called the ND.

He was then posted as an Instructor/Training Officer on board PNS Shamsher - the then newly commissioned Midshipmen Training ship, where the first batch of midshipmen were receiving training. These midshipmen then later on constituted the top core of the Pakistan Navy, many of them becoming admirals and chiefs of the Navy.

The following year, he was assigned to the PN Staff and Tactical College at Manora, Karachi (which was later on split into the PN Tactical College and PN Staff College). He was amongst the first batch to do this course, and in 1957 he was appointed DS (Directing Staff) in the same institution.

In 1957, despite the fact that he was from the Educational Branch, he was involved in the first ever multinational exercises under CENTO, being a part of the assisting staff in planning, briefing, execution and de-briefing (Cdr. Roberts was the Chief Planner). He was serving as Dy. Director PNSTC in those days.

During later years, he served on various other training ships and establishments for training of cadets, midshipmen and officers. He served at PNS Karsaz - the engineering training establishment, PNS Babur, PNS Tariq and others, and for a period at the Pakistan Naval Academy.

He was still in service, when he was assigned to Cadet College Petaro as the first "Naval Officer" from 1959 to 1962 (another first for him). The Pakistan Navy used to have its presence at the college through the "Naval Officer". During this period, he was also given other duties. For example, he was the President of the Mess Committee, Patron of Sea Scouting and Quiz Master for conducting the weekly Inter House Quiz competitions. He used to arrange visits of cadets to naval ships and establishments and joy cruises on war ships. In addition he worked nearly as a full-time Maths teacher. (Photograph on right: As Lt.Cdr. in 1962 when he left Petaro).

Cdr. Asrarullah's first tenure at Petaro gained him great love from the early Petarians. Soon after he left in 1962, he was posted to the newly established Marine Academy in Chittagong, East Pakistan as the Chief Education Officer for a period of six years upon the insistence of Adm. A.R. Khan who was the CNS (another first). During his stay there, he was instrumental in attracting a number of Petarians to join the Merchant Navy. These boys moved to East Pakistan for their training at Chittagong.

Upon his return to West Pakistan, he was posted as Dy. President of ISSB Kohat (1968-69) and then as Director of Studies at Pakistan Naval Academy at Manora in 1969.

In 1973, a new Marine Academy was established at Karachi on the orders of the Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and Cdr. Asrarullah was given the task of Chief Education Officer and later as the Deputy Commandant and Acting Commandant until 1980. Thus, those Petarians who joined the Pakistan Navy during the 1970s got his patronage there.

His return to Petaro in 1980 as the Principal of the College was more of a home-coming. It was during his period as the Principal that the Petarian Association was formed in 1982. He recalls that Bashir Memon 63/LF, Qamar Hashim 211/LF, T.J. Siddiqui 535/J and others approached him in 1981 to patronize the Old Boys. Thus, the famous first meeting took place at the Metropole Hotel Karachi in 1981 where Cdr. Asrarullah took his staff en masse to be present and encourage the Petarians to form the Petarian Association. He thus became the Founder Patron of the Petarian Association.

After leaving Petaro in 1988, he became the Secretary of the Pakistan Navy Education Trust which used to run 16 schools of Pakistan Navy. He was also the Advisor to Commander Karachi until 1994. During this period, he was instrumental in establishment of Govt of Sindh Degree College in Arts, Science and Commerce for Boys and Girls in Pakistan Navy residential area, and Cadet College Sanghar.

He performed meritorious services during the 1965 and 1971 Wars, and was decorated with the Tamgha-e-Jang and Sitara-e-Harb after each war.

Cdr. Asrarullah last visited Petaro at the Golden Jubilee celebrations on 24 February 2007. He was received with full honours and was a key guest of the college. He was the most important speaker of the day. Please click here to listen to his golden words spoken on that great event.

It is a matter of honour for me to have gotten to meet and know Cdr. Asrarullah personally after all these decades. May Allah grant him health and the best in both the worlds.

Some Memories of Cdr. Asrarullah

by Altaf Shaikh, 47/J

Petarians shall never forget our great Naval Officer Cdr.(R) Asrarullah (then a Lt.Cdr.) who later served as Principal from 1980 to 1988. He familiarized us with the navy and the merchant navy and provided the necessary help and guidance in joining these services. An outstanding teacher who not only taught us Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry with outstanding zeal, keenness and commitment producing excellent results, but also helped us in selecting a career for ourselves.

He introduced sea scouting in the college and also arranged annual visits to ships and establishments at Karachi including one to East Pakistan under the auspices of Karachi Sea Scouts. Many cadets like me who had seen sea and ships only in black and white movies were very much thrilled to see the spic-and-span men of war with their guns, torpedoes and other huge armament and fittings - some berthed and some sailing majestically on blue waters. Spectacular indeed!

TO add to all this, good food in naval messes, picnics at Sands Pit, Hawks' Bay and a joy ride on naval vessels as little guests of Pakistan Navy shall always stand out in our memories. On return from the trip, the crispy white uniform of PNA cadets, naval officers and sailors, the rolling foaming waves of Hawks' Bay and PNS Qasim Break Water were the things we dreamt of.

No doubt, it was due to Cdr. Asrarullah's loving inspiring loving inspiring help and guidance that many of us joined the Navy or chose the Merchant Navy as our career.

When we were in the final year at Petaro, Cdr. Asrarullah was posted to the newly established Marine Academy at Juldia Point near Chittagong. Commodore M. Asif Alvi, a great man, was the first Commandant and Cdr. Asrarullah looked after the educational training and discipline side of the Academy.

It was due to this link that we Petarians were introduced to and motivated towards the Merchant Navy. Captain Fiaz Arain (now professor in USA Merchant Marine Academy) and then myself were the first ones to join this Academy. Much of the training and disciplinary life was on the same pattern which our other college mates were experiencing in the Pakistan Naval Academy at Manora.

Our Pakistan Navy is respectable, dignified and challenging but the Merchant Navy has its own charm. And there are always a certain number of Petarians who apply for the Marine Academy every year.

Captain Fiaz came to Chittagong in 1962 and myself in 1963. And then in 1964, six Petaro cadets were selected for the Academy. They were Captain Bashir Vistro (later on he became the first Pakistani graduate of World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden. After sailing for many years and working as Pilot in KPT, he is now Regional Representative of PNSC in Hong Kong), Captain Waheed uz Zaman (who is in KPT), Captain Riaz Chowdhry (who is doing private shipping business), Captain Ahmad Hussain Makhdoom (who is at Singapore University after many years of sailing and working in Martime Academy of Malaysia and Engineering College of Brunei), Chief Engineer Hassan Aslam Zubari (after serving PNSC for nearly 15 years is attached with one of the textile mills), and Chief Engineer Saeed Suleman (who is posted in Australia). These are just a few.