After leaving Petaro, Altaf Shaikh joined the
Merchant Navy. He acquired a degree in Marine
Engineering from the Pakistan Marine Academy,
Chittagong. In later years, he did his MSc in
Maritime Safety Administration from World Maritime
University, Malmo, Sweden.
His first job was with PNSC in 1968 and sailed around the world calling
at many of the famous ports of the world. He
sailed as the Chief Engineer on board ships in the Merchant Navy for a period of
12 years - a great honour.
During his career, he chose to become a teacher.
He became a lecturer at the PNSC Marine College at
first and then became the Principal of the same
college for 3 years. He also served as a teacher
at the Martime Academy, Malacca, Malaysia for
eight years. In his later years, he settled down
in Karachi, and became a professor of Maritime
sciences and Head of Marine Engineering Dept at the Pakistan
Marine Academy for 12 years until his retirement in 2004.
Altaf Shaikh is truly a role model for Petarians. I
have yet to meet such an amazing Petarian. He is
the epitome of goodness, love, caring,
intellectualism, and Petarian-ness. If you look at
his face, you see a man who has the "noor" on it.
He is a God-fearing man with such an amiable face.
And since he grew his beard recently, he looks so
And Mastoora Bhabi is as good a person as Altaf
Bhai is. She is so simple, straightforward and a
great mother who brought up two very good
first met Altaf Shaikh in 1997. I was sitting
in my office in the FTC Building on Sharea Faisal
at Karachi, and in walked Altaf Bhai with
Malik, 470/Latif. I had never met either of them before
in my life. I just cannot express in words the
emotions of that meeting. It was virtually
love at first sight. I could relate to him so well
even though he had left Petaro two years before I
joined the college. I felt as if we had known each
He pulled out a Petarian Association membership
form which I gladly filled out and gave him a
check for the life membership of the association.
Over these years, we have met each other at
several occasions in Karachi and Islamabad. And
every meeting was better than the previous one. In
1999, when I decided to quit my job and start up
my own business in Islamabad, Altaf Bhai was there
again. He had a flat in the F-8 Markaz which
was lying unutilized and he told me to set up my
office there and use it as long as I wanted.
Although I did send him the rent money, but he
never asked me for it. Money never crossed his
mind for a single minute. I can never forget
that act of love, and can never repay him back for
that good deed.
Altaf Shaikh is a famous man. He is a man of
letters and a great traveler. He is famous in
Sindh for his over 67 books that he has written
about his travels. Most of his books are in the
Sindhi language but some are in Urdu and English
as well. He wrote his first book at the age of 18 when
he was in Chittagong. It was titled "Anamika"
(meaning "Unknown" in Bengali language). This was
published in 1966.
During his sailings to different ports of the
world he would observe the culture, traditions,
and different aspects of the various countries and
cities of the world. His series of books are an
encyclopedia for travelers. He has done a great
service to the people of Sindh by writing about
his travels in the Sindhi language and exposing
them to cultures of the world. His first book on travel
was "munjho saagar munjho saahil" which was published
in 1971. The book was acclaimed and won the Pakistan
Writers Guild Award.
Thus, Altaf Shaikh is the modern Ibn Batuta.
Altaf Bhai also honoured me as well in one of his
books by dedicating it to me, even though I never
deserved it. It shows his humbleness where he has
cared for me so much.
Other than his books on his travels, Altaf Shaikh
has been an active member of the Petarian
Association all along, and is known amongst the
Petarians for the series of Directories of Life
Members of Petarian Association that he published
for many years (until 1999). The mantle fell on my
shoulders when I took over this work from him from
the year 2000 onwards and have published the
directories of all Petarians ever since. Altaf
Shaikh's contribution in this regard is extremely
Altaf Shaikh was
given the Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai Award in 2008 by
the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad for his book
"From New Hala to New York". He was also given the coveted
"Life Achievement Award" by the Sindhi Adabi Sangat - the highest literary body of the
Province of Sindh in May 2009. The award was given
by Sassui Palijo, column writer, poet and Sindh
Minister for Culture and Tourism. This is truly a
great honour for him and for all the Petarians.
One of his sons-in-law is a Petarian - namely Dr.
Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, kit no. 7809/Ayub (married to
May Allah grant Altaf Bhai and Mastoora Bhabi a
long life with health and happiness.