Ghiasuddin Sidiqi - 2002
Ghiasuddin Sidiqi - 1969
By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif
Sidiqi, kit no. 964/Qasim House joined Cadet College Petaro in
1967 in 11th Class and left the college in 1969
after completing his Intermediate.
He was born on
16 October 1952 at Karachi, and was married to Mrs. Galina in
Moscow, USSR, on 25 October 1978. They have 2 children.
Ghias was a success story in this world that is rare.
Coming from a humble background,
he built one of the largest business empires after
the defunct USSR.
Petaro, Ghias joined NED Engineering College in
1969. Two years later, he got a scholarship from
the USSR government to study Metallurgical
Engineering at Moscow University under training
for the for the newly established Pakistan Steel
Mills which had been funded by the USSR. Thus, in
1971, he moved to Moscow.
Over the years,
Ghias decided to stay back in Moscow, fell in love
and got married to a Russian lady. During those
years, he worked for the Urdu Service of Radio
Moscow. He also started a modest business in
Moscow to sustain himself.
With the demise of
the USSR in 1988, the world changed for Ghias. He
took advantage of the opportunities opening up in
the new Russia, and acquired ships and properties.
Over the years, he became the owner of nearly
15-20 cargo ships, several hotels and properties
in Europe and Russia. He moved his headquarters
and home to the Netherlands. At the same time, he
established offices in Belgium, Malta and Pakistan
in addition to his offices in Russia. His company
was known as Grid International BV. He also built
a summer home for himself in Malta.
Ghias had great love
for his Petarian friends and for Petaro. When the
Class of 1964-69 gifted an international standard
squash court to Cadet College Petaro in 2001,
Ghias became the biggest donor by giving Rs. 10
lacs as his contribution out of the total cost of
Rs. 37 lacs.
A couple of months
before the completion of the squash court, Ghias
died of a massive heart attack in Moscow on
Saturday, October 11, 2003. His body was
transported to Malta where he is buried.
In memory of Ghias,
the 1964-69 batchmates decided to name the newly
built squash court at Petaro as the Ghias Squash
Petarians are proud to have Ghiasuddin Sidiqi as a colleague of ours.
In Memory of Ghiasuddin Sidiqi
By Prof. Mohammad Nauman Ozair, 556/Ayub
I think it is
never too late to share my feelings about Ghias.
I never realized he was such a close a friend
that his memories will always haunt me.
In Petaro, though his stay was not long but he was
able to be recognized as a friendly personality with literary taste and as
a person who preserved his self respect against all odds. He left marks
of his friendship on so many of us.
At NED engineering college we were together for less than two years when
he left for Soviet Union under Pakistan Steel Mills training program.
Ghias, like me, could never reconcile with the
status quo in the country and the prevailing state of affairs among the fellow
students. So we decided to launch a new organization that later
emerged with the name of Progressive Students' Front (PSF).
The Front was not associated with any political party and it dominated
NED's students Unions and politics for a
decade till the gun culture was introduced by the
rulers. Many students thought I was the
mastermind behind the Students' Front, but
in reality, it was Ghias who had clearer
vision and more input in the embryonic stage of the organization.
Ghias is not a personality who could be contained
under the discipline of
any organization and where he doesn't have a
creative, dynamic and commanding role. In the
Soviet Union, he carried out many adventures, the
greatest being to fall in love with a
Russian girl. That was the time of "Iron Curtain", and
foreigners were not supposed to move
outside some of the limited boundaries or face prison/deportation. KGB
was all the time chasing
Ghias in the "no go areas" and tried to closely
monitor his movement and activities. But finally, they had to concede to
the power of their true and they got married.
Ghias decided to start business (I don't think any
of his close relative
was a businessman), because this was the only
means Ghias could stay in Soviet Union and and visit Pakistan also.
He was able to understand the Russian pshyche and its bureaucracy. He was
a sharp businessman. With no seed money, he competed with other
Pakistani businessmen who were playing in billions. He then expanded his
business to other countries.
I remember, during the peak of Afghan war in the 1980s
when Pakistan was fighting a proxy was for the USA in the name of
Jehad, Ghias came with the proposal to supply electricity to
Pakistan from Central Asian part of Soviet Union, through Afghanistan. It
was in the great interest of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was the
initial phase when Pakistan was facing power shortages. Later Pakistan had
to sign agreements with IPPs that have very adversely affected
Pakistan's economy because of extremely high rate of electricity. The
transmission line could have also supplied electric power to Kabul and
northern parts of Afghanistan. But this required a political will.
Imagine, if the Pakistan's rulers could understand the logic of economic
development and tried to reach some settlement, the history
would have been different for this whole region.
During early 90s, when Soviet Union started
disintegrating, Ghias realised the gravity of crises and developed
Grid's off-shore offices at various places. Knowing my keen interest in
the dynamics of social systems and their transformation, Ghias invited
and ensured my stay at Moscow for nearly a month, in his hotel. I had the
great opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and specially
the academia. The business activities and busy life could never stop
Ghias from intellectual pursuits and love of literature and arts. Ghias
did finance some conference in Holland. In 1995, when I was
technical advisor to the Administrator Karachi Metropolitan Corporation,
Ghias agreed to provide a certain amount as donation for the construction
of City Library of Karachi. But the approved architectural plan
(approved as a result of competition in 1992) is such that the whole
building structure is to be made in one go. It is not modular, and has
no demarcated blocks. Ghias's proposed funding of Rs.80 lacs could not
have completed any part to make it functional. This is the reason that even
today the Library project has not taken-off.
At one time, Ghias was also keenly interested in
developing alternative sources of energy in Pakistan. But the government
polices were not conducive in that direction. Now, when the
Petarian like Brigadier Nasim are at the helm of affairs, Ghias was
caught up in bad health and other business problems. With his untimely death,
I wonder, who else would come in this venture.
Ghias had to actively involve himself in resolving
many problems and issues of his family and relatives, which he did
successfully. It is my personal opinion that Ghias could have done much
more for Pakistan and Petaro, had he not been caught in domestic