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August 25, 2014

Unsung heroes

August 25, 2014

Part - VIII
Random thoughts
In my previous columns in this series I mentioned the formidable contributions made by some of my colleagues. As former head of the organisation I feel it is my duty to do so in grateful thanks to their efforts.
When I started the project, Mr Bhutto instructed Gen Tikka Khan, the COAS, to provide all possible assistance. He advised Gen Islamullah Khan, then Brig DG EME to meet my requirements. He also asked Col Arif to see me. I showed him the dilapidated 1946 British Air Force garages near the airport that we were housed in and asked him to repair the leaking tin roofs, fill in the work pits, etc and provide water and electricity. He did an excellent job and within a few days we had a leak proof roof over our heads – a place to sit and plan.
At that time all the staff GHQ officers were brigadiers and Gen Zia soon promoted them to Lt-Gen. Gen Islamullah also delegated three colonels from EME to us – Col Qazi Rashid Ali, Col Abdul Majeed and Col Basheer Khan. Col Bashir could not contribute much because he retired soon after. Col Majeed was put in charge of the Electrical Division, where he made major contributions in forming a team and assisting with all electrical works.
Col Qazi was jolly, humorous, competent and highly experienced. He was put in charge of the Production and Quality Control Division. He took great interest in his work, set up an extremely useful mechanical workshop for which he recruited highly trained and experienced mechanical supervisors (Bashir and Haji Nazeer being real gems) and technicians. He was very popular with his staff. More about Col Qazi’s excellent contributions later.
Col Majeed signed contracts with a firm to provide equipment and help with their installation. Abdul Aziz Khan, my friend from Karachi, a graduate from NED College with a Masters degree from abroad, prepared all the electrical drawings of the plant as consultant without charging a single penny. This would

otherwise have cost millions.
When Col Majeed retired, Brig. S.M. Jaffer of EME took charge. It was during his tenure that all the electrical work of the plant was completed. He was in close contact with the said firm for acquiring the equipment, taking care of the uninterrupted 24-hour power supply and the maintenance and repair of all the equipment. He never failed us. He retired after having seen the project achieve its goal.
Col Qazi was one of the early batches sent by the army to Loughbrough University for Engineering. His colleagues were Gen Saeed Qadir, Gen Ali Nawab, Gen Shabbir H Shah and others. They all rose to eminence due to their competence. Col Qazi, unfortunately, could not join them on medical grounds (damaged eyesight). He got on well with everyone, especially Dr Hashmi and DG Mansoor Ahmad. When he moved to Kahuta in 1978, he went all out to acquire the most sophisticated CNC machines from all over the world.
I provided him assistance knowing full well that these machines were the key to our success. Eng Khokhar would make drawings under my guidance, later used to make the prototypes. These drawings were then sealed (finalised) and passed on to Col Qazi for mass production. Col Qazi also set up an excellent Quality Control Section with Eng. Bokhari (formerly of POF, Wah) in charge. He was a competent, soft-spoken officer who did his job well.
Col Qazi’s department not only produced parts for the centrifuge, but also for the vacuum pumps, vacuum valves, flow meters, pressure gauges, Anza (anti-aircraft), Baktar Shikan (anti-tank) missiles, Ghauri missiles, laser range finders, multi-barrel rocket launchers, etc. He made invaluable contributions to making the extremely sophisticated components of the nuclear weapons and the gadgets and fixtures to produce them. He passed away about two years ago but remains alive in the memories and hearts of his colleagues. May Allah rest his soul in peace – Ameen.
I mentioned my trip to Kuwait and my meeting with a class fellow and dear friend, Eng Badrul Islam. Because of his religious character we dubbed him ‘Qazi’ in our college days and even today I call him by that name. A thorough gentleman, and always with a smile on his face, he is a very competent engineer.
After leaving college I joined the government as Inspector of Weights and Measures while Qazi Sb joined the Karachi Shipyard and became a marine engineer. He passed all the British exams and became a Chartered Marine Engineer.
While I was studying at Delft (Holland) I used to fly to London to meet him whenever he was there. Our long-standing friend of childhood days, Iqbal Khan, an architect, had moved to London about four months after I departed for Berlin. We all used to cook together and then go sightseeing. We had two other friends at DG College, Karachi – Mehdi Hasan and Abdul Rasheed. Rasheed went to Manchester at about the same time. He tried his best to get me to go there. He graduated in civil engineering, married a British girl (a class fellow) and worked there for some years before shifting, first to Canada and later to California, where he passed away a few years ago.
Mehdi, as witty and jolly as Qazi, passed his Masters in Physics with distinction, worked for a while as demonstrator and then joined the PIA Ground Training Institute. After obtaining training in England he became principal of the institute, from where he retired.
A reliable engineer was required for the air conditioning of the whole plant (a gigantic task) and Emergency Power Supply. A marine engineer is a highly versatile person and can handle such problems efficiently. Qazi Sb had worked as Chief Engineer on ‘MV Shams’ and as government surveyor at the Karachi Port for a number of years and had meanwhile become Head of the Marine Institute in Kuwait.
Mr I.A. Bhatti and I made a trip to Kuwait, met Qazi Sb and managed to convince him to join us in the national interest. He agreed and never looked back. All the air conditioning work was done by him and his able assistants, Eng Shamim Ahmad and Eng Tariq. They also installed and commissioned 8MW emergency power without any foreign assistance.
While in Kuwait, Qazi Sb introduced us to a Pakistani, managing director of a large Kuwaiti trading company. Over dinner we discussed the possibility of routing some of our supplies from Europe through Kuwait. The MD discussed the matter with his boss who willingly agreed to help us against a small commission. He was a great friend of Pakistan and his assistance was invaluable to our project. More about the services of Eng Badrul Islam in the next column.
To be continued
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