Prof. Abdullah Khadim Hussain
Professor and Head of Department of English (1957-1966)

Prof. Abdullah Khadim Hussain – 2003

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

Prof. Abdullah Khadim Hussain was one of the first five teachers of Cadet College Petaro. He was professor and Head of Department of English Language from 1957-1966.

He was born on 17 July, 1931 at Lucknow in United India, and got married to Mrs. Iffat Hussain on 17 October 1967. They have five children – Tehniyat, Tehmina, Nadir, Amina and Kulsoom, and 12 grandchildren.  All of his children are settled in the USA and are highly qualified.

Khadim Sahib was settled in Karachi, and expired in USA on 15 May 2014.

Young Khadim Hussain was a brilliant child. He acquired all of his early education from Govt. Jubilee College Lucknow, an institution of great repute. He completed his Matric at a very early age in 1947 just before the independence of Pakistan.

Soon after the partition of India, the family decided to move to Pakistan. However, instead of going west towards Lahore, the family went east to Calcutta due to the massive carnage and chaos all around. From Calcutta, they took a flying boat and landed at Korangi, Karachi in October 1947.

The family settled down in Karachi, and Khadim Sahib joined Sind Madrassatul Islam from where he completed his Intermediate in 1950, and B.A. in 1952. The college was under the Sindh University which followed the curriculum and standards of Bombay University.

Khadim Sahib then decided to pursue his studies for a masters program. However at the same time, he took up a job initially as a Student Lecturer at S.M. College, and then moved to Mirpurkhas where he worked as Lecturer in Govt. College Mirpurkhas. In parallel, he studied for his M.A. degree in English, which he completed in 1957 and obtained a position in Sindh University.

He had a superlative command over English language, and even English people were in amazement at his capability despite the fact that he had studied English only in India and Pakistan.

As a lecturer, he was fortunate to be in contact with the famous Mr. A.M.Nizamani, the Director of Education, who took a great liking for this young man due to the great potential, vigour, and capability that he saw in him.

Thus, when the Cadet College was created in 1957 at Mirpurkhas, Mr. Nizamani was instrumental in getting Mr. Abdullah Khadim Hussain to join as one of the first 5 teachers. He was given the position of a “Senior Master” (equivalent to an Asst. Professor in later days), and made the Head of Department of English.

Throughout his 9 years at Mirpurkhas and Petaro, Khadim Sahib was the House Master ofJinnah House. His ability and command over the cadets was second to none. His greatest quality was that he was committed to the welfare of the cadets, which endeared him to them. He believed in disciplining them without punishment, and thus he had a record of never awarding extra drill to any cadet.

In addition, Khadim Sahib led the mountaineering and scouting teams at Petaro. As a scout himself, he was qualified as a Wood Badger from England.

He was also the Patron of the English Debating Club during the initial years, where he would work hard to develop debating and language capabilities amongst the cadets.

In 1966, Abdullah Khadim Sb was offered the position of Principal of Public School Hyderabad. The school had been going through a difficult time, and the government was looking for an able administrator. At that time, he was barely 35 years old, and technically he would not qualify.  After a grueling interview, he was selected. He spent the next 3 years in trying to rectify the problems and bringing the college up to speed, working long hours.  He recalls that he lost 30 pounds in weight due to the physical strain. The outcome was that he was given a Civil Award for “Excellent Work outside the sphere of normal duty”.

In 1969, he qualified through the Federal Public Service Commission, and was appointed Assistant Education Advisor in the federal Ministry of Education. In 1972, he was promoted to the rank of a Deputy Secretary and in 1975 as a Joint Secretary in the same ministry.

Finally he reached the pinnacle of government service by being promoted as a Joint Secretary in 1980. He was also made the Head of the Curriculum Division in the Ministry of Education.

Ten years later in 1990, he chose to take voluntary premature retirement from government service to establish his own consultancy.

While he was still in government, he was deputed several times to other UN bodies and international organizations including UNICEF and GTZ. Between 1976 and 1990, he worked intermittently with UNESCO where he was involved mainly with designing the World Conference on “Education for All”, which was attended by presidents, prime ministers, heads of state and government, and key officials of member states. His travels also took him to Maldives, Thailand and Sri Lanka where he provided consultancy services to those governments in various areas of education.

A couple of years after leaving government, he started an NGO called “Social Sector Support Service”. For the past over 20 years, he has been heading this organization as its President.

Since 2001, he has been running institutions for destitute children (boys and girls) in Lyari. The education is provided free of cost to these poorest of the poor children. The program integrates vocational training with academic courses, leading to Matric. After Matric, these children are enrolled in Allama Iqbal Open University for Intermediate and beyond courses and qualifications.

The girls school in Lyari has emerged as a model institution. The media has done a few programs on this institution and several international agencies have shown interest in these schools.

Reminiscing about the early days of Petaro, Khadim Sahib wrote an article the DAWN newspaper in October 2001, in which he describes some of his experiences of the early Petaro days in the following words:

“It was a team of five inexperienced young teachers who were suddenly called upon to establish Cadet College. Since there was no building at Petaro at the time, the college classes were initially arranged in borrowed buildings at Mirpurkhas. The time allowed for its establishment was a month-and-a-half in which, books, uniforms, crockery and cutlery had to be bought so that the college starts to function.

Whenever its practicability was questioned, the simple and firm answer was that Sindh needed a Cadet College. With this motive a cadet college was established in August 1957. As there was no building at Petaro the college was started at Mirpurkhas in temporary buildings. Equipment like furniture, books, stationary, crockery, cutlery, and uniforms were bought. The staff was hired. The entire operation was undertaken on war footing. Since no one knew what a cadet college was, the Vice Principal of Cadet College Hasan Abdal, was flown to Mirpurkhas to supervise operations, as well as to brief the new staff about the Cadet College objectives.

Days passed in doings things, modifying and clearing up the premises, buying things etc. At last, 30 students were selected for the first entry and on August 25,1957 the college started functioning. It stayed at its Mirpurkhas campus for two years.

In May 1958, Col. Coombes, its first Principal, joined. With his small team of teachers, he visited Petaro, which was an abandoned runway, built during the Second World War. There was nothing else, except a very small village of Petaro with 10-15 families located about 6 kilometers from the airstrip.

In August 1959, with the road link between Hyderabad and Petaro broken because of floods, heavy rains and hurricanes hindering our way, we did move to the new campus in unfinished buildings, with uncertain water supply and locally generated electricity.

This was a miracle achieved because of the devotion, courage and commitment of two individuals, Allah Bux Nizamani, the Provincial Director of Public Instruction, andCol. J.H.H Coombes, the Principal. Miracles happen and Cadet College, Petaro, is a living example of it. The interesting and perhaps unintended outcome of this, with very far-reaching impact, was that with 6 or 7 faculty members and the 60 odd cadets between the ages of 11 and 13 years who were going through this strange but very fascinating phenomena, a huge institution of Petaro rose out of the dust. The real training, besides that which occurred in the class rooms, the playground, the parade ground, was the adamant “obstinate optimism” to live, survive and grow in the midst of all these apparently disastrous circumstances. This, briefly, is the Petaro experience.

In 1959, Petaro was a flat plateau without any vegetation, not even a blade of grass. The wind, especially in the evenings, blew very harsh and hard, for there were no trees to obstruct it. The campus was water-locked because of the floodwater, which had washed away the road and was threatening to wash away the railway line as well. There was no transport link with Hyderabad due to non-existence of road facilities. The only link was a contractor’s “four wheel drive” pick-up which had to go almost daily to Hyderabad to get food supplies, vegetables, meat, bread etc. The electricity generators used to be turned off at 9.00pm, after which Petaro plunged into pitch darkness. It was generally safer to stay in hostel rooms on these dark nights because the place was rampant with snakes and scorpions.

The food, in spite of all efforts to maintain quality, was, at best, of “acceptable quality” but generally very poor and sometime insufficient also. The kitchen staff found it very difficult to work in these difficult and challenging circumstances. Therefore, they usually left their jobs and at times one or two cadets were called in the kitchen to cook and to serve food in the dining hall. Initially, there was no doctor, so if a cadet was seriously sick he was taken to Hyderabad in the pick-up which went daily to Hyderabad.

Besides this, there were a few wonderful things about the place; the beautiful moonlit nights, and the cool, fresh breeze, but the most wonderful occurrence was the daily routine starting from the morning parade down to school classes and games.

The first three years were very difficult, almost impossible. But later things started to settle.

The Petaro experience consists of four elements. One, the determination, courage and charisma to achieve what you have set yourself to achieve, however difficult and impossible it may appear. This was how Petaro came into being. Two, the wonderful experience of seeing an institution rising out of the dust. Three, to do your duty under all adversities and against all temptations. Four, the companionship and affinity that is born out of being together, eating the same food, facing the same problems, sharing the same pleasures.”

Khadim Sahib has honoured Cadet College Petaro and Petarians time and again ever since he left the college. Along with Faruqui Sb, he was invited by the Class of 1964-1969 to inaugurate the Ghias Squash Court at Petaro.  He was also a key guest and speaker at the 2004 Petarian Convention.

Khadim Sahib expired due to cardiac arrest on 15 May 2014 while visiting his children in Virginia, USA (near Washington DC). He was buried on 17 May.

May Allah grant janntaul firdaus to Abdullah Khadim Hussain Sahib for his lifelong service to humanity and for being a father figure for all Petarians.