Principal's Interview

Q-1. Sir, firstly, would you please tell us about your academic background and your experience as a student?

Ans: To begin with, I was born in a small village, in Gujrat, and I come from a humble background. I began my schooling from a village school, but I had great teachers, who worked hard with me. After my 4th class I moved to a school in Kharian Cantt, from where, I managed to pass the entry test of Cadet College Petaro (CCP) and from then on everything turned around. Since early childhood, I was a precocious child and a studious boy. Initially, I took little interest in extra-curricular activities, but with time I started playing basketball and achieved considerable proficiency in it. However, my real strength as a student lay in academics: I stood first in my Matric Board in Dadu Division for which I received a silver medal. In my F.Sc. Exam, I stood first in the entire Board and received a gold medal for that. When I passed out from Cadet College Petaro, I was awarded stick of honour which is usually awarded to the best all-round cadet of the year.

Q.2. How was Cadet College Petaro, back in your days?

ANS: I joined Cadet College Petaro, in 1966 and spent 5 years over there. Col. Coombe, our founder Principal, had left shortly before and the British traditions were still very strong at Petaro. As far as I remember, the academic competition then was perhaps not as intense as it is today, and we used to have a lot of fun in the form of co-curricular activities. For instance, we had a music club where the cadets were taught how to play different musical instruments. In addition to it, a full-fledged shooting club, a riding club, a wood working club, an adventure/hiking club and a host of other extra-curricular activities awaited us. I can also recall vividly that our teams used to play regular fixtures with other sister institutions like Cadet College Hasan Abdal, MCJ and PAF College Sargodha. All put together, Cadet College Petaro was simply wonderful. I feel indebted to my great teachers, who groomed us very well and were involved with us all the time and supervised almost every activity that we undertook.

Q.3. How will you compare Cadet College Hasan Abdal and Cadet College Petaro?

ANS: I think CCH has very strong academic traditions as compared to the other institutions of its kind. In Petaro, we did not study as hard, however, there was greater emphasis on co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Even during the Board Exams, PT and games were not discontinued. We used to play a lot of sports fixtures with the other top schools of Pakistan like CCH, MCJ, and PAF, Sargodha. These top three premier schools met regularly for the Inter Cadet Colleges Sports Tournaments (ICCST) at one of the participating schools during summer vacation for about ten days. It used to be a very exciting occasion. We would enjoy a lot of interaction with the boys from these institutions and made friends with them. We also used to have more East Pakistanis in Petaro than ethnic Sindhis or Baluchis, because like CCH, Petaro at that time had no regional quotas and admission was granted on open merit. I still sometimes wonder and think about my East Pakistani friends and wish them well.

Q.4. Would you please recount your life as a soldier?

ANS: As I mentioned earlier on, I was a diligent student and believed in hard work. So it was this conviction and faith that translated all my dreams into reality and kept up my trajectory of success throughout my career. After doing my F.SC, I went to PAF College of Aeronautical Engineering and stood second in my course. At that time, the College was located at Korangi Creek in Karachi. It was established by the US Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in 1962 and many of our teachers were still Americans when I joined in 1972; that is why the standard of training and professional grooming was quite high at that time. Graduating from an elite school like CAE and joining army as a common officer was quite hard for me. Hence, my initial period in army was a little disillusionary and difficult; however, I soon got settled and started enjoying my new way of life as a soldier. In army, I got a chance not only to visit every nook and corner of Pakistan, but also travelled across the world. I did Aircraft Maintenance Officers Course and Cobra Test Pilot Course from the United States. Then I did my M.Sc. from ENSICA, a French University. I also served four and half year as Pakistan Army Technical Liaison Officer (PATLO) in London. On the whole, I enjoyed my stay in army tremendously. Nevertheless, I have one regret that I never got an opportunity to take part in a real action.

Q. 5. Would you please tell us about your experience as a pilot?

ANS: I joined Army Aviation as an engineer. However, I also qualified as a Fixed Wing Pilot (Mushak MFI-17), and thereafter served alternatively in EME units as well as in flying squadrons. I think, being a pilot and an engineer at the same time was a big distinction for me as it proved to be very exhilarating as well as rewarding in the end.

Q.6. How do you feel at being appointed as the Principal Cadet College Hasan Abdal?

ANS: I feel greatly honoured and consider it as a great opportunity. I think I can pay back to my country in terms of my experience and services. I have seen great moments and have experienced events of epic proportion. Above all, I feel like coming back to a place similar to the one at which I was once groomed. Joining CCH as Principal is just like coming back to CCP. Now, I want to serve this institution to the best of my experience and take it to even further lofty heights of success.

Q-7.What facilities provided to the cadets need improvement?

ANS: when I was in NUST and heading EME College, I knew a few of Abdalians there. They were quite bright students, but somehow I felt that they lacked exposure to IT in CCH. So this is the field where I would be contributing substantially. Secondly, the concept of boarding schools is to give an enhanced exposure to the boys for multi-faceted co-curricular and extracurricular activities. I would like to revive the hobbies clubs, thereby giving greater exposure to the cadets for activities other than academics.

Q.8. What other major development plans do you have in your mind?

ANS: I would want to update and modernize the existing labs and to provide computers to the cadets even in their wings. I also intend to improve the sports facilities for the cadets. I also wish to see an increased participation of students from backward area of the country such as FATA, Northern Areas and from Balochistan.

Q.9. Do you have any plans to introduce and infuse multimedia into the classrooms to improve teaching/ learning?

ANS: Absolutely! I am a strong proponent of IT; I believe that by using technology, we can do a lot of work with great efficiency and in a short period of time. It is going to give an added advantage to both the teachers and the cadets as well. I want to modernize classroom environment through technology such as video lectures and documentaries. I also want to establish a multimedia teaching lab in Ayub Block.

Q.10. What are your expectations from the cadets/ what standard do you expect from the cadets?

ANS: Besides studies, I expect many activities from the cadets. They should play at least one game, read books regularly and have a hobby. The success triangle of life has three facets: focus on studies, play games and take up a hobby. It is one’s exposure to the host of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that hones and shapes one’s talent, which makes the real difference in the later years, and helps one grows into a distinguished individual.

Q.11. What role do you envisage for Cadet College Hasan Abdal in future?

ANS: As we all know that CCH is the first ever Cadet College of Pakistan. It is the only prestigious institution of the country which enjoys a unique position of maintaining academic record par excellence among all other institutions of the country. It will also be my priority to maintain its leading role in the future as well.

Q-12 .Sir, finally, what is your message to the cadets and anything special you want to share with them?

ANS: I want my cadets to know that the bedrock of their personality should be: their character integrity, their intellectual advancement, their strong sense of discipline, and their ability to work as a team member. Moreover, I believe that the cadets in this College are fortunate for they are studying in one of the best institutions of Pakistan. They must make full use of this opportunity. Above all, I expect them to grow into civilized and enlightened citizens of this great country. Being Abdalians, they must lead by example, and play active role in the progress and prosperity of this country.

Conducted by:

Prof. Shaukat Mahmood, Cadet Hamza Afzal Khattak & Cadet Munim Mateen Afridi