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 (1992-93), he did his MSc in
Maritime Safety Administration from World Maritime
University, Malmo, Sweden.
His first job was with PNSC (Pakistan National
Shipping Corporation) in 1968 as a Junior Engineer
(5th Engineer). Over the years he rose up to
become the Chief Engineer - a great honour. During
those years, he sailed on different types of
Merchant Navy ships around the world, calling at
many of the famous ports of the world. After
nearly 13 years of service, he opted for an
onshore job in 1980 in order to give more
attention to his children's education.
He loved to teach. Therefore at this juncture in
life, he thus chose to become an educator and became a lecturer at the PNSC Marine College.
Within a year, he became the Principal of the same
college for 2 years. In 1983, he was selected to serve
at the Maritime Academy (Akademi Laut), Malacca, Malaysia.
He served as the Head of Marine Engineering
Department there 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 (on deputation from his parent
company PNSC) for 12 years until his retirement in 2004.
He retired that year from PNSC as a General
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 bhai, 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, 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 Bhai is a famous man. He is a man of
letters and a great traveler. He is a famous
travelogue writer of our country and is the author
of over 80 books - mostly about his sea travels.
Most of his books are in the Sindhi language but
some are in Urdu and English as well.
During his sailings to different ports and remote
islands 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.
Thus, Altaf Bhai is the modern Ibn Batuta. His
books have been a
great help in
educating our younger generation. Some of his
books are used by Pakistani universities (Sindh
University, Jamshoro, Karachi University and Shah
Latif University, Khairpur Mirs, Sindh) as a part
of their B.A and M.A curriculum.
As a visiting
professor Altaf Shaikh lectures in different
marine engineering institutions of Singapore,
Malaysia, Pakistan and other countries. He has
lectured on ‘Travelogue Writing’ in Urdu and
Sindhi in different universities of Sindh, Mumbai
University India and Osaka University Japan. It is
interesting to note that Osaka University Japan
has a department of languages where they also
teach Urdu and Sindhi. The Heads of Department at
Osaka are Japanese nationals who have completed
their Ph.D in Urdu and Sindhi languages from
Punjab University, Lahore, and Sindh University,
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.
awards that he was honoured with over the decades,
Altaf Shaikh is recipient of Pakistan Presidential
Award T.I (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz) and PJK (Pingat Jasa
Kebaktian) a Malaysian Government Award. He
received the Best Book of the Year award from
Pakistan Writers Guild Lahore in 1969 and from the
Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad in 2010. I
am proud to mention that he is the first Petarian
to receive ‘The Life Time Achievement Award’ from
our Petarian Association also. This is truly a
great honour for him and for all the Petarians.
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
One of his sons-in-law is a Petarian - namely Dr.
Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, kit no. 7809/Ayub (married to
Mariam). His other son-in-law is Sameer Ahmed
Vistro, son of his Petarian classmate Capt. Bashir
Vistro (kit no.50)
May Allah grant Altaf Bhai and Mastoora Bhabi a
long life with health and happiness.