Professor of English (1957-1966)
Abdullah Khadim Hussain - 2003
By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif
Prof. Abdullah Khadim
one of the first five teachers of Cadet College
Petaro. He was professor of English Language from
He was born on 17
July, 1931, and got married to Mrs. Iffat Hussain on 17
October 1967. They have
Khadim Sahib is
presently settled in Karachi.
Khadim Sahib obtained his
M.A. degree in English. After leaving Petaro, he went abroad
initially, and then returned to join the civil services in
Islamabad. At the time of his retirement, he was an
Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Education.
He is presently the
President of and NGO called Social Sector Support Service.
he wrote for the DAWN newspaper in October 2001, Khadim
Sahib describes some of his experiences of the early Petaro
days in the following words:
"It was a team of five
inexperienced young teachers who were suddenly called upon to establish Cadet
College. Since there was no building at Petaro at the time, the college classes
were initially arranged in borrowed buildings at Mirpurkhas. The time allowed
for its establishment was a month-and-a-half in which, books, uniforms, crockery
and cutlery had to be bought so that the college starts to function.
Whenever its practicability was
questioned, the simple and firm answer was that Sindh needed a Cadet College.
With this motive a cadet college was established in August 1957. As there was no
building at Petaro the college was started at Mirpurkhas in temporary buildings.
Equipment like furniture, books, stationary, crockery, cutlery, and uniforms
were bought. The staff was hired. The entire operation was undertaken on war
footing. Since no one knew what a cadet college was, the Vice Principal of Cadet
College Hasan Abdal, was flown to Mirpurkhas to supervise operations, as well as
to brief the new staff about the Cadet College objectives.
Days passed in doings things,
modifying and clearing up the premises, buying things etc. At last, 30 students
were selected for the first entry and on August 25,1957 the college started
functioning. It stayed at its Mirpurkhas campus for two years.
May 1958, Col. Coombes, its first Principal, joined. With his small team of
teachers, he visited Petaro, which was an abandoned runway, built during the
Second World War. There was nothing else, except a very small village of Petaro
with 10-15 families located about 6 kilometers from the airstrip.
In August 1959, with the road link between Hyderabad and
Petaro broken because of floods, heavy rains and hurricanes hindering our way,
we did move to the new campus in unfinished buildings, with uncertain water
supply and locally generated electricity.
This was a miracle achieved
because of the devotion, courage and commitment of two individuals, Allah Bux
Nizamani, the Provincial Director of Public Instruction, and
Col. J.H.H Coombes,
the Principal. Miracles happen and Cadet College, Petaro, is a living example of
it. The interesting and perhaps unintended out come of this, with very far-reaching impact, was that with 6 or 7 faculty members and the 60 odd cadets
between the ages of 11 and 13 years who were going through this strange but very
fascinating phenomena, a huge institution of Petaro rose out of the dust. The
real training, besides that which occurred in the class rooms, the playground,
the parade ground, was the adamant “obstinate optimism” to live, survive and
grow in the midst of all these apparently disastrous circumstances. This,
briefly, is the Petaro experience.
In 1959, Petaro was a flat
plateau without any vegetation, not even a blade of grass. The wind, especially
in the evenings, blew very harsh and hard, for there were no trees to obstruct
it. The campus was water-locked because of the floodwater, which had washed away
the road and was threatening to wash away the railway line as well. There was no
transport link with Hyderabad due to non-existence of road facilities. The only
link was a contractor’s “four wheel drive” pick-up which had to go almost
daily to Hyderabad to get food supplies, vegetables, meat, bread etc. The
electricity generators used to be turned off at 9.00pm, after which Petaro
plunged into pitch darkness. It was generally safer to stay in hostel rooms on
these dark nights because the place was rampant with snakes and scorpions.
The food, in spite of all
efforts to maintain quality, was, at best, of “acceptable quality” but
generally very poor and sometime insufficient also. The kitchen staff found it
very difficult to work in these difficult and challenging circumstances.
Therefore, they usually left their jobs and at times one or two cadets were
called in the kitchen to cook and to serve food in the dining hall. Initially,
there was no doctor, so if a cadet was seriously sick he was taken to Hyderabad
in the pick-up which went daily to Hyderabad.
Besides this, there were a few
wonderful things about the place; the beautiful moonlit nights, and the cool,
fresh breeze, but the most wonderful occurrence was the daily routine starting
from the morning parade down to school classes and games.
The first three years were very
difficult, almost impossible. But later things started to settle.
The Petaro experience consists
of four elements. One, the determination, courage and charisma to achieve what
you have set yourself to achieve, however difficult and impossible it may
appear. This was how Petaro came into being. Two, the wonderful experience of
seeing an institution rising out of the dust. Three, to do your duty under all
adversities and against all temptations. Four, the companionship and affinity
that is born out of being together, eating the same food, facing the same
problems, sharing the same pleasures."