Prof. Syed Iqbal Haider
Professor of Physics (1962-1968)

Prof. Syed Iqbal Haider – 2009

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

Prof. Syed Iqbal Haider joined the college in 1962 as teacher of Physics. He left the college in 1968.

He was born on 20 February 1938 and got married to Mrs. Suraiya Kazilbash in 1967 while he was at Petaro. They have three children – Adnan, Saba Fatima and Tooba.

Although we were contemporaries at Petaro, Iqbal Sb was never my teacher, and we had little interaction. He taught Physics to the other classes.

Iqbal Sb graduated with a B.Sc.(Hons) from Karachi University in Physics and Mathematics and then went on to get his M.Sc. in Physics from the same university. In later years, he obtained a Post Graduate Diploma (equivalent to M.Phil.) in Marine Environment from University of Wales in the UK. During the course of his career, he also participated in several specialized courses in hydrology, computer programming, soil mechanics, water resource planning, permafrost engineering, drilling, geology, and many other areas.

During his tenure at Petaro, Iqbal Sb became the first ever Assistant House Master of Iqbal House when it was established in 1966 along with Mr. A.A. Naqvi as the House Master. In addition to his duties as a teacher of Physics, he was quite active with various clubs. He was the founder of the Rocketry Club which he patronized throughout his stay. He was also in charge of thePhotography Club in 1964-66 and the Boating Club during the period when Col. Coombes was the Principal. He also assisted Prof. Sarfaraz Siddiqui with Funkada Drama Club, and Prof. Afsar Rizvi with the Urdu Debating Club.

Talking of the Boating Club, Mr. Iqbal Haider recalls that the Boating Club House was built on the banks of the River Indus near the water pumping station, next to Qazi Akbar’s farm. Petty Officer Iqbal was also assigned the duties to assist in teaching life saving techniques to the cadets, and how to use the oars. The club had around 6-8 rowing boats.

On one of the weekends, Iqbal Sb narrates that he was directing 5 boats to cross the river in order to have a picnic on the opposite bank, and with the intention to return to the college by the evening. Midway, they realized that there was a heavy storm brewing, and it could have caused havoc. Iqbal Sb ordered all the boats to return to the club house. Of the 5 boats, one was being steered by PO Iqbal, one by Mr. Afsar Rizvi and the third by Mr. Iqbal Haider himself. There was no staff member on the other two boats. On the way back to the boat club, the storm started raging and the waters became very dangerous. With great difficulty it took them around 2 hours to get back to the shore. Unfortunately, one of the boats in which there was no staff member had capsized not far from the shore. However, none of the cadets were hurt, and they got to the shore safely – around a mile downstream of the club house. One of the other boats – after offloading its passengers – was blown over by the storm and was found on the other bank of the river the following day. PO Iqbal finally retrieved that boat back to the club house. The entire experience was traumatic to say the least for all the cadets involved in this incident and boating was suspended.

He was also in charge of Hiking at Petaro, and his team participated in the National Hiking Competition at Nathiagali and won the First Prize against seasoned teams from the universities in Punjab and Agricultural University Faisalabad. This speaks volumes also of the physical fitness of the Petaro cadets.  He also took his teams on hiking to Swat and Kaghan valleys with Mr. A.A. Faruqui accompanying them.

Mr. Iqbal Haider migrated to Canada in 1969 after leaving Petaro. Over these 4 decades, he has worked with different organizations in Canada. He started out as a Senior Technician in the Soil Physics Department at the University of Guelph in Ontario. He then joined Baroid (NL) Canada as a Well Logging Engineer in Alberta. With this job, his career moved into geophysics and the oil and gas business.

Over the next few years, he worked with R.M. Hardy & Associates in Calgary as Geotechnical Engineer, R.J. Brown & Associates at The Hague in Netherlands as a Pipeline Engineer, Gulf Oil Canada in Calgary as Senior Marine Geotechnical Engineer, Petro-Canada in Calgary as Senior Marine Geotechnical Engineer, Hudson’s Bay Oil & Gas / DOME Petroleum as Senior Staff Engineer, and Enviro Impact Consultants in Canada.

Since his retirement from employment in 2003, he has started his own consulting business for renewable energy development. In this regard, he has made several proposals for wind farm and solar power generation to clients in Ireland, Canada, USA, UAE and Pakistan.

During this period, he also tried to settle down in Pakistan, but was forced to return to Canada due to the prevailing situation in Karachi at that time.

Iqbal Sb is a member of MEIC, MCGS, and MCWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association).

Some Personal Experiences with Col. Coombes

By Prof. Syed Iqbal Haider

Col Coombes deserves recognition for his love of Petaro. He has worked hard. I know it better than anybody else, because I shared his bungalow with him for a while. At that time there was a shortage of staff housing.

I remember he used to carry a towel on his shoulder, sit and sweat in the summer sun in his lawn and work tirelessly day and night with honesty!!!

I would like to share a few of the ordinary instances from those days which demonstrate Colonel’s love for Petaro.

We had a caretaker with a short beard (I forgot his name) who was asked by Colonel to buy some water tanks to be placed at various locations in the corridors of the college to provide cold drinking water for cadets.

Each Samawar (as they are called) was purchased for Rs 35. For some reason, the Colonel became suspicious. He personally went to Hyderabad and took several quotes. The price for that kind of Samawar was Rs. 30 / unit.

The next day, the Colonel called the caretaker to his office and showed him all the quotes and told him “Either you are careless or you are a cheat. In either case you are not needed at Petaro” and fired him.

This shows the height of his sincerity and loyalty for Petaro.

I would like to narrate another story in this regard. Many Petarians of that period may still have one of the original official neckties of CCP as a part of their archives.

Colonel was proud to tell his friends, that he smuggled those ties from UK and did not pay customs duties without telling a lie. At the airport the Customs officer asked Colonel “What are you bringing from the UK?” Probably with a smug look and a sarcastic smile he replied “I have 500 ties”. The Customs officer took that as a joke and cleared his baggage without checking.

Prof Feroz Yousuf Khan told us one day that Z.A. Bhutto was on an official visit to Petaro. Colonel was taking him on round along with senior members of staff. He wanted financial assistance for the college increased. In his typical joking style, the Colonel told ZAB with a twinkle in his eye, “I need so much extra money, otherwise I will shoot you!!” ZAB paused and gave him a stern look, and the Colonel realized this was not the right move.

Colonel used to play jokes but in subtle and serious manner. Once he invited trouble for himself. During a chat with Mr. Mangi, Colonel addressed him as “Buster”. Mr Mangi took a serious note of it thinking that the Colonel was calling him a “Bastard”. Colonel then had to pacify him by explaining that “Buster is a bird, I did not say what you think I said”

In Feb 2008, I visited Pakistan and used to have long sittings with Abdullah Khadim Hussain. We would to talk about Late Colonel, Late Fazal Mahmood, Late Naqvi Sb and about the good old days.