Prof. Syed Afsar Hussain Rizvi

Lecturer of Urdu (1962-1966)

Prof. Afsar Hussain Rizvi – 2011

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui


Prof. Syed Afsar Hussain Rizvi joined Cadet College Petaro in 1962 to teach Urdu and left in 1966. He was the second teacher of Urdu at Petaro after A.A. Faruqui Sb. 

He was born on 17 July 1933, and married Mrs. Shahida on 20 March 1976. They have 4 children – Aliya, Hina, Huma and Mustafa Haider. His wife holds a Masters in Psychology and retired as an Associate Professor in 2010.

Prof. Afsar Rizvi is now settled in Lahore.

Rizvi Sb was a very dynamic personality at Petaro, although he was never my teacher. He left the college within months of my joining the college. For all these decades, the Petarians have been out of touch with him. It was only recently that I found his contact details in Lahore and gave him a call. It was one of the most interesting and pleasant of conversations that I had in a long time. Rizvi Sb was in full form.

Rizvi Sb was born in pre-partition India near Lucknow. He acquired his initial education up to middle school at Barabanki, and then moved to Anglo Arabic High School at Morigate, Delhi from where he completed his Matriculation in 1948.

After the independence of Pakistan, riots had started all over northern India. The young Afsar Rizvi returned to Lucknow and joined the Christian College there during the period when H.A. Hanson was the principal. He delivered a speech in favour of Pakistan and against the sentiments of a speech that had been delivered earlier by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad at the Delhi Red Fort. This led to lathi charge and along with hundreds of others, he was taken into custody and spent a month in jail. After release from imprisonment, he moved to Aligarh Muslim University where he stayed at Aftab Hall and remained an activist. He completed his Intermediate from Aligarh Muslim University in 1950.

Soon thereafter, he moved to Pakistan and made Lahore his home. In order to support himself financially, he took up a job with the Meteorology Department in 1950, working on seismic data.

At the same time, he joined Islamia College Lahore. The Principal of the College at that time was Dr. Taseer who was also a professor of English. Rizvi Sb chose to study science and got his B.Sc. degree in 1952. He then took admission to F.C. College. Lahore to do his masters in English Language. After nearly 2 years of study, the management of the college found out that he was also working full time with the Meteorology Department which was not accepted according to the rules of the college. He was given the option to either quit his job or leave the college. Thus, he was not able to complete his studies at F.C. College. Subsequently, he joined the Oriental College in the Urdu Department to do his Masters under Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Waqar Azeem. He got his M.A. in Urdu in 1962 with First Class.

Armed with his new qualifications, he then travelled to Karachi and applied for a job with various universities and colleges. Col. Coombes sent him a telegram from Petaro to come and meet him for an interview in the presence of Mr. S.S. Azim. He did, and finally ended up with a job at Cadet College Petaro in 1962 as Urdu teacher. But there was one condition. He was asked to finally give up his permanent job with the Meteorology Department, which he had served since he came to Pakistan in 1950. He accepted this condition and resigned from the Met.

During the 4 years at Petaro, he was a very well-liked teacher. He was the founder of the Debating Club at Petaro. It all started when he organized the First All Pakistan Debating Competition at Petaro in 1964. Many colleges participated and it was a very successful event. Thus, Rizvi Sb was the first patron of theUrdu Debating Club and the English Debating Club from 1964 to 1966.

Rizvi Sb was very happy working at Petaro. But when Col. Coombes retired in 1965, he felt that the environment had changed, and he could not sustain himself under the new conditions. It was time to move on. So he sat for the Public Services Commission examination and was selected. He joined the Education Department of the Government of West Pakistan.

His first posting in this new job was at Haripur where he worked or 3 months in 1967, and was then posted back to Lahore where he joined the Government College of Science (located on Wahdat Road) as a Lecturer in Urdu until 1976. 

Simultaneously, he also started doing programs on TV after 1968. He was a part of the Khabarnama and he compered Discussion programs. 

In 1976, he was sent on deputation to the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) as Assistant Professor. He returned to Government College of Science Lahore in 1979 and stayed at that institution until his retirement in 1993. His last position before retirement was that of an Associate Professor. Soon after his retirement, the annual magazine of the college Dabistandecided to honour him and published a full 68 page section about Prof. Rizvi in the 1994 edition (see pages 205-272). The section is titled “Goshah-e-Afsar“. It has a handsome photograph of Prof. Rizvi taken in 1994 (reproduced here on right) alongwith a very interesting interview covering his life and thought, and a complete section on his poetry. This is worth reading.

During the rest of his stay at Lahore from 1979 onwards, he got associated once again with PTV, where he developed programs on science.

Rizvi Sb is a natural poet. He recalls one incident when he went to Murree with a group of teachers from Petaro for a training program organized by the British Council. The Englishmen there were enamoured by how he could compose poetry so easily and how the Pakistanis were so much into appreciation of poetry.

He has published a number of articles and poems of his in different magazines, but he has yet to publish it as a compilation.

Rizvi Sahib now lives in Lahore.